How to Buy Point of Sale Terminals

Find the best point of sale equipment

Written by Eric Fleming


POS System Equipment

You hear the term “point of sale” thrown around a lot in retail circles and any business that needs to streamline in-person customer transactions. Usually the term refers to an electronic means of processing customer sales at checkout or even simpler, a replacement to old-style cash registers. But what exactly is
point of sale equipment?

What is point of sale equipment?

There are a few items you’ll find in almost any point of sale system: a computer, monitor, an input device or two, and a cash drawer. You may also find a receipt printer, a card swipe device, or a display for customers to review while you’re ringing them up.

  • Computer. This is the central piece of point of sale equipment, although it’s often out of sight. It contains the software that actually runs the checkout process. Depending on whether you purchased your POS equipment as a bundle or piece by piece, the computer may be any off-the-shelf unit, or a self-contained point of sale system built for a specific industry.
  • Monitor. This, too, can be part of a self-contained unit or an off-the-shelf display. However, more common is the use of touch screens. These allow the display to not only show the checkout process, but also double as an input device.
  • Input device. This point of sale equipment enables the clerk to interact with the software. Typically this is via a keyboard, but an input device can also take the form of a scanner, touchscreen display, credit card reader, or check reader.
Do-it-yourself vs. vendor purchased packages

You have a few options when purchasing your point of sale equipment, but one of the most important is whether you decide to purchase it piece by piece, by the bundle, or as a specialized all-in-one unit.

With off-the-shelf purchases, you can hold out until you find exactly the equipment you want. However, you run the risk of purchasing everything at a slightly higher price than if you purchased a ready-made bundle. On the other hand, a bundle purchased from a dealer should already be set up, and you should be guaranteed that everything will work well together. That isn’t always certain when you buy your computer and peripherals separately.

Finally, a specialized, all-in-one unit often provides the most industry-targeted features. While you’ll find that they can be easier to operate, they’re so specialized that they could never second as a dedicated office computer.

How much does point of sale equipment cost?

With such a wide range of equipment available, you can only estimate a general price range before you meet with POS vendors. If you’re looking to purchase an all-in-one unit, they can be had for $1,500 to $3,000 depending on which options you want. Meanwhile, straight-up computer hardware can be found anywhere for $300 to $3,000.

Similarly, computer screens can be either cheap or expensive. A used CRT monitor can be found for less than $50, while a large touch-screen monitor will run you $500 or more. No matter which peripherals you’re looking for, it all comes down to the features you want, the price you’re willing to pay, and the service you expect to get in the end. Make sure to carefully compare your options before you agree to spend any money.

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