Use This Trick To Shave 30 Seconds Off Every POS Transaction

bar codes at the point of sale

Bar codes make life at the point of sale much easier – no doubt about it – the customer brings items to the counter and the cashier scans them.   Is there more to life than having bar codes on products though?    We think so, and here’s how you can benefit from using bar codes in other ways.     And it won’t cost you a dime!

First – let’s examine the physics of time and movement at the retail counter.   Typically a sales clerk has a bar code reader in one hand while holding tags or products with bar codes in the other.   After scanning those bar codes, the clerk puts the scanner down and then starts by putting her hands on the keyboard or sometimes a mouse.  She then starts a series of other movements.  There’s time wasted in between putting down the scanner and focusing on the keyboard and screen.   Often, the clerk just closes the sale with a few keys – but the wait for customer can be interminable, particularly with slow sales clerks.   Personally I find those twenty or thirty wasted seconds very annoying .   And, if you multiply those 30 seconds by 100 customers a day, it becomes 3,000 seconds – or a full 50 minutes of wasted time.   Over the course of a year, that can be 15,000 minutes, or 250 hours, or thirty one man-days.   Per cashier!  Think about it.  A wasted month of time every full year, just because the process flow at the point of sale is poorly engineered.

Why not create some bar codes to by-pass the last few keystrokes?

Huh?  Yes.  Instead of pressing the F9 button, or whatever few keys it takes to bring the sale to the payment section – where you enter cash, credit card, etc,  why not have  bar codes that can replicate that F9 key.

It’s actually easy to do.   You can create bar codes with the key stroke codes in them, and then just scan that code.

There is a free tool to create bar codes here. It just takes a minute.  If you don’t know what the right characters are to embed in the bar code, then you can either call the Point of sale software company for help, or contact a local Point of sale reseller for assistance.

Look Ma, no hands!

When I ran my own business, I always made sure that an entire sale could be completed without touching the keyboard. We used to attach a few specially made bar codes on the keyboard or counter for the client and teach them how to finalize the sale with just a scanner.  

Other short cuts

How about frequently sold services, such as alterations, or common add-ons?  Some stores will create a sheet of a dozen or so bar codes and then laminate that sheet and tape it to the counter.  Cashiers can then scan those bar codes to add assorted services to the invoice.  It’s  soooo fast!    Or, common zip codes?  Is your business one of those that always asks what zip code the customer is from? (Grrr!)   How about making bar codes for the most popular two or three and then letting your cashiers scan them?

I’d encourage all store owners and managers to spend a few minutes watching your cashiers ring sales, and see where you can improve the point of sale process.

Readers – I’ll bet some of you have already done this.  Can you give us some examples below, in the comment section, of how you’ve created bar codes for this kind of use?   By the way – readers are welcome to become members of this site, and gain full access to all content for free, just by Registering here.  Thanks!


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About the Author

Editorial Team is a leading industry news site for the point of sale and payments industry. We are also the go-to resource for small business owners that want expert tips and inspiration on how to run a successful business. Collectively, our team of experts has decades of POS, payments, and small business experience.