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POS Buyer's Guide - Other Periphials

POS Buyer's Guide - Other Periphials

Published: 04/17/2011

» Business Equipment
» Merchant Services
»» POS Systems


POS Hardware – Other Peripherals



Every POS system needs a printer to create credit card slips and receipts for customers. Many restaurants also use printers to send orders to kitchen and bar staff. There are two main types of receipt printers: dot matrix and thermal.




Dot matrix printers, also known as impact printers, use pins and an ink ribbon to print on regular paper. Dot matrix printers are fairly inexpensive, usually $200 ‐ $400. They are better suited for use in kitchens, where the ambient temperature can be enough to prevent thermal printers from working effectively.



Thermal printers use heat and special heat‐sensitive paper to generate receipts. They are slightly more expensive, ranging from $300 to $500, but they are faster, quieter, and generally more reliable because they have fewer moving parts.



Over several years of use, the higher costs for thermal paper are just about balanced out by the need to buy both paper and ribbons for dot matrix printers.





Cash drawers



Cash drawers are… well, drawers you keep cash in, along with credit card slips, gift certificates, exchange receipts, and any other important paperwork. The most important thing to look for in a cash drawer is the sturdiness of its construction. They take a lot of abuse from constant opening and closing, and they also frequently serve as a shelf for a display or other heavy pieces of equipment. Look for eighteen gauge steel as a good benchmark minimum.



In most cash drawers, the signal to open the drawer comes from the receipt printer. If you purchase your entire system from one dealer, you will not have to worry about compatibility, but this can be a concern if you are purchasing components separately.



Some cash drawers are more easily serviceable than others. Although the life expectancy of a cash drawer is measured in the millions of cycles, make sure you can replace the rollers, bearings, and other parts if they do wear out before then. Cash drawer prices range from $150 to over $300.





Customer displays


Also known as pole displays, these accessories show item and price information to the customer. Some can show advertising as well. There is not much you need to know about displays – take a look to compare size and how the display looks. You do need to make sure that your software is compatible with the display’s emulation, but again, if you buy an entire system from one dealer, this will not be a problem. Average pricing is around $200.





Magnetic stripe readers


Credit card processing is handled by the POS software so you do not need a separate credit card terminal. However, you do need a magnetic stripe reader to read the card itself. Often, keyboards and touch screens have readers built in; if your input device does not, you will need to purchase a standalone reader, which will set you back $75 ‐ $150.





Check readers


Using magnetic ink character recognition (MICR), automatic check readers can quickly help you prevent fraud by verifying essential account information. Since personal checks are becoming a less and less popular method of payment, few retailers purchase them these days. However, if you see a significant volume of checks, a reader can be a real time saver. Make sure that your software supports check verification before purchasing one.





Fingerprint IDs


Security to limit employee access to POS terminals is critical. The two most common methods are simple PIN codes and magnetic swipe cards, but these are both subject to abuses: PIN codes can be read over someone’s shoulder, and swipe cards can be forgotten by employees, stolen, or lost. A new add‐on many POS systems now offer is a tiny fingerprint ID box – just big enough for a thumb, the pad ensures that the right employee is able to log on – and no one else will.