The right tool for easier transactions By E.M. Robinson
The size of your business and its potential growth will be determining factors in choosing the cash register that will best meet your needs. With so many features available in today’s cash registers, you will want to consider the cost, ease of use and components. At a minimum, you will need your business cash register to:
Make return transactions
Provide compartments for denominations of currency
Add or subtract items on your customer’s bill
Provide price look-ups (PLUs)
Calculate correct change to customers
Have tax tables
Print receipts from a built-in printer
Run reports, track inventory or integrate your data into QuickBooks or another financial record program.
Have a locking cash drawer.
Additional Cash Register Features
You may also need to consider advanced features such as a register that connects to multiple registers and printers prints graphic logos on receipts, provides better reporting capabilities or provides an LCD display. Additional features that may be needed for your business might include:
Bar code scanner
Touch screens as an alternative to keys for inputting information
Software that downloads your end-of-day report totals directly to your QuickBooks Pro
Capability to program your register from your PC
Ability to identify sales by department or employee
Cash Register Manufacturers
There are cash registers by different manufacturers, and each of these companies offers different models to best meet your business needs. In addition to purchasing a new cash register, you might consider buying a refurbished one. You should also ask about trade-in value of your existing cash register(s), if you have any. Top brand names of cash registers include Royal, Sharp, Sanyo and Casio.
Restaurant Cash Registers
Your specific business needs will determine the features you want to have in a cash register. If you operate a restaurant, however, you will be sure to want to look at brands and models designed for restaurants. Restaurant-specific cash registers include such features as:
Capabilities to be programmed for menu items
Best of all, some restaurant-specific cash registers also offer the ability to connect to printers so cooks receive orders automatically in the kitchen.
Just like when purchasing any type of equipment with specialized features, you will want to ask about warranties, technical support and repairs.
Your business needs will help you zero in on the type of cash register you need. You will want to have the equipment features that help you operate your business efficiently without bogging you down with complicated accessories you don’t need.
What are Cash Registers?
Cash registers are portable machines that keep track of daily income, distribute change, and temporarily store currency. Product pre-sets and other quick-key functions make transactions fast and efficient. All registers come with a removable, locking cash drawer, memory back-up protection, and the ability of automatic tax computation. They are excellent machines for both stationary and traveling businesses (craft shows, conventions, etc.) that involve the sale of merchandise.
Choosing the Right Cash Register
The amount of merchandise, number of clerks, and rate of inflows/outflows will determine which cash register is most suitable for a particular operation. You can expect to spend anywhere between $150 and $500 on a cash register. The higher-end models have more programmable functions, as well as more sophisticated printing and display capabilities.
To choose the right cash register, you will want to consider the following features:
Most cash registers have a front display for the clerk and a rear display for the customer. Some rear displays can be adjusted and rotated for convenient customer viewing. Higher-end models may have an alphanumeric front display, where the top line is alphanumeric and the bottom line is numeric only. The alphanumeric display shows item descriptions during sales registration and alphanumeric prompts during the program mode to assist the user with set-up.
Commonly referred to as PLU's, these are numbers that can be programmed to represent merchandise or inventory. They are used for quick and accurate entry and tracking of frequently sold items. Once programmed, the user punches in the PLU code (e.g. 299) on the keypad and then presses the "PLU" button. The product's price and any other programmable information will immediately appear on the display. The number of PLU's can range from 12 to 1,600 depending on the model. Certain models also allow the user to assign an alphanumeric description or name to each PLU number so that each selected item has a name, price, and description all at the touch of one button. This is a valuable feature for items with quick turnover.
Printers come in single, two, or alphanumeric stations and are connected to the register. Single-station printers only print out one paper tape that can be used either as a journal record or a customer receipt. However, some single-station printers print on two-ply paper providing both a receipt for the customer and a merchant copy (journal tape) for record keeping. Two-station printers can be found in more expensive models, where they provide a separate customer receipt and journal tape. Higher-end models may also offer alphanumeric printers capable of printing PLU descriptions on the receipt and/or journal, as well as separate alphanumeric store logo and/or commercial messages.
Departments are numbered keys on the keyboard that represent a grouping or category of products. They can be used for quick and accurate entries of items sold, but are usually used for tracking and reporting of items sold. The number of departments ranges from 8 to 40. Higher-end models allow the user to assign an alphanumeric description or name to each department number.
Clerk Identification System
Most models have a clerk ID security system that gives clerks an individual ID number allowing them to sign in and use the register. The number of ID numbers ranges from 6 to 18. This system serves as a tracking and reporting feature for individual clerk sales. Certain models allow the clerk to assign an alphanumeric description or name to each clerk ID number.
All models come with at least 4 slots for coins and 4 slots for bills in the cash drawer. Higher-end models come with a few extra slot trays or an accessory drawer for additional storage of currency.
Alphanumeric: Used in both displays and printers; it allows both numbers and letters to be shown or printed. Automatic Tax Computation: Allows the programming of (usually 4) different tax rates. Clerk Identification: Assigns each user an ID number for security and monitoring of individual sales. Departments: Numbered keys representing categories of products. Display: Shows the clerk and/or the customer the amount, and often the type of purchase. Journal Tape: A copy of the receipt for the merchant. Management Report Printing: Provides periodic sales analysis by mid-day, end-of-day, week, and/or month. Price Look-Ups (PLU'S): Numbers representing products used for entry and tracking. Secondary Charge Keys: Allows the user to separate multiple credit cards