Retail POS Hardware 101


There are several hardware components for a complete POS, some are personal preference and some are required by law. Many can be found with several of the features/capabilities combined into one piece of hardware.

We have taken a moment to break down the varied components; this is not based by brand and is not product specific.  Check out the infographic to see all of the POS hardware components and then find notes and tips on each component below.

– Standard monitors will look and feel more like a traditional computer with a keyboard.
– Touch screens are easier to clean, take up less space and can be easier to use.
– Mobile devices are handheld and predominately touch screen, keeping your sales team out on the floor and reducing back and forth to assist customers.

Mobile, handheld tablet or device
Mobile POS will scan barcodes, swipe cards, have a screen to enter a pin, have a signature capture screen and many are set up to include a graphic customer display.
– Great for line busting, heavy traffic stores or businesses that need to be themselves mobile.

Pole Displays
– Required by law in some states.
– Shows the cost of the product, change due and increases customer’s feeling of security and trust.

Back Office
– Server (high performance computer) that runs your retail, accounting software, security and other needed applications. Typically scheduled to conduct frequent backups.

Barcode Scanners
– Scans barcoded information and is the standard method of identifying inventory items for both input (into your POS system) and upon purchase.

Graphic Customer Displays
– A screen that faces the customer that can have customized information on it.
– Displays the items being purchased with running tally of charges, tax and total.
– A video, image or logo to promote products or special offers can be included to increase sales.
– Additional profits can be made by selling the ad space to vendors.
– Signature capture is sometimes also on this display.

Physical Inventory Scanner or PDTs (Portable Data Terminals)
– A portable data collection device.
– Saves time in doing a physical inventory count or receiving

MSR (Magnetic Stripe Reader)
– Reads payment cards, gift cards, loyalty cards and even employee cards.
– Check into the speed of authorization to increase customer service.

Pin Pads for Debit card processing
– Ensure pad meets up to encryption standards.

Tag Printer
– Print the variety of labels needed: Hand tags, item labels, shipping labels, etc.
– Commonly a thermal printer is used to produce fade resistant labels.

Receipt Printer
– Prints a varied quality receipts and sizes.
– Many retailers are offering emailed receipts as opposed to a printed receipt.

Signature Capture
– Capture the customer’s signature for credit card transactions and others that require signature verification.

Cash Drawer
– Connected to your POS system.
– Research compulsory close to reduce theft, cash drawer must be closed between each transaction.

Check Reader
– Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR) scan the encoded identification numbers that appear on a check.
– If your company does not accept checks, disregard.

Security cameras
– Even just the presence of a camera can reduce theft.
– Many retail software systems will sync with the video recording so that you can pull up the feed from a specific purchase.

Alternatively you can select a bundle.

All-in-One or Bundle Workstation
– Increasing compatibility
– Designed to meet all of your needs
– Typically retail hardened
– Uses less valuable store real estate

While there are several parts and components, brands and capabilities, this list should offer a launching pad to understand the world of retail technology hardware. You will need to see that each of these functions is covered by any POS system to ensure the smooth operation of your retail store. It is highly recommended that a trained professional oversees the selection of these pieces to avoid compatibility issues.

About One Step Retail Solutions

One Step Retail Solutions is a leading retail service provider in the U.S., servicing the technology needs of the small to mid-size retailer since 1985.

Technology changes rapidly, and we make sure that whatever system you choose will keep up with your changing needs. One Step Retail Solutions has teamed with the best POS software developers in the industry to provide you with easy to use, retail point of sale solutions designed to help you be in total control.


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