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Build Your Own Point Of Sale System

Build Your Own Point Of Sale System

You do not have to spend $5,000 to $10,000 on a POS system. It is easy to do it yourself and you will save a bundle!

Retail Plus is often sold as a “do it yourself” system. Putting together a point of sale package is much easier than you may think and can save you a small fortune. We routinely get calls from retailers who have been quoted between $5,000 and $10,000 dollars for one standalone package, yet the hardware components are all commodities which you can buy at wholesale prices if you shop on the web. Most people who own a home computer already have the skills needed to set up a system or have a friend who can help.

A POS system is basically a Windows computer with some simple devices connected to it like a slip printer, bar code scanner, cash drawer etc. These devices all connect to a plain, off-the-shelf PC. The manner in which they are connected is not any more complicated than other PC hardware. The classic starter kit looks like this:

Any Windows computer ($600 to $1000). If possible avoid machines that only have USB connectors – they are not good candidates for POS applications because they limit the devices you can connect. Look for at least one serial port. If your existing computer doesn’t have one they are available on inexpensive plug & play adapters.

A Star SP300 or Epson TM-U200 sales slip printer ($200 to $250). This is not necessary if you only want to print invoices and statements – those will print on an ordinary printer (see next item). Avoid USB connections for receipt printers – stick to serial and parallel type connections for simplicity. If you must connect a USB receipt printer there is a technical workaround on our support page that might work on your Windows installation.

Any inkjet or laser printer to print invoices, statements, reports, price tags and bar code labels ($100 to $300).

An automatic cash drawer ($100 to $150).

A keyboard bar code scanner ($150 for a basic CCD model, up to $250 for a laser). This patches into the keyboard port with no other system setups required.
When you are ready for some more advanced functions you can add:

A Logic Controls PD3000 pole display ($250).

Mercury Payment Systems, X-Charge or ICVerify credit card processing system( ICVerify costs $299 to $549 extra).

A portable stock counter or data terminal ($500). This makes stock taking faster and easier, especially if it is all bar coded. It also makes it fast and easy to reconcile the stock counts with the inventory records.

QuickBooks Pro or Premier accounting software to manage the bank deposits.

As you can see it is possible to create a professional POS system for as little as $1500 including the software! All you really need is some information about what to buy and where to find it. The following list will give you an idea of how easy that is:

The Minimum System Requirements

Any computer that can run Windows (including Vista) will run Retail Plus. If you have more than 5000 SKUs in your inventory then you will want a faster computer i.e. anything built within the last 2 years with 500 megabytes of RAM.

Optional Add-Ons

POS Receipt Printer – this is a must in stores where customers expect a standard 3 inch sales receipt. Good choices are the Star Micronics SP300 or TSP lines, or the Epson TM-U220. Most slip printers have a cash drawer connector on the back. Other popular brands are Samsung and Ithica.

The main choice is not really between brands but between printing mechanism (dot matrix with ribbon, inkjet or heat transfer). Dot matrix printers can use two-part tape so you get two copies in one pass which saves time at a busy sales counter. Some dot matrix printers can also use two colors. Inkjet and heat transfer printers are faster and quieter but can be more expensive. The nice thing about heat transfer printers is that there is no ribbon or ink cartridge to replace – just pop in the heat sensitive tape and go.

Whichever slip printer you choose ask for a serial or parallel connector. If you must connect a USB receipt printer see our support page for a technical workaround that might work on your Windows installation.

Automatic Cash Drawer – any type will work but the simpler the better. We recommend one with an RJ12 plug so that it can connect to the back of a receipt printer. How do you recognize an RJ12 plug? It looks like a telephone plug but twice as big. If you need a source for cash drawers try MS Cashdrawer Corp. at 800-544-1749.
Barcode Scanner – Retail Plus will let you scan at any point where a stock code is wanted. Once again, any type of scanner will work but the simpler the better. Ask your computer dealer for a “keyboard wedge” or USB scanner.
Hardware Bundles – Some POS hardware vendors offer bundled packages usually consisting of the above three items. An example can be found at Extreme Barcode. Their phone number is 1-866-398-7227.
Barcode Printer – With Retail Plus you can use any printer to print barcodes on standard Avery label sizes. For those who need to print large numbers of barcode labels every day we support the Barcode Blaster and Advantage LX made by Cognitive Solutions.
QuickBooks Accounting Software – Retail Plus includes links to this popular accounting package (Pro or Premier version) using Intuit’s new QB-XML data sharing standard. It allows you to transfer open invoices from Retail Plus to QuickBooks and make payments on them from the POS screen. You can post your POS revenues directly to your accounts and share both client and inventory info as well.
Mercury Payment Systems – Retail Plus supports this popular payment gateway for those with access to an internet connection. It processes credit card transactions very quickly and at less cost than the merchant banks charge. It also offers the retailer an easy way to implement a gift card program. There is a charge for the custom made gift cards but no transaction fees when your customers use them. Learn more at www.mercurypay.com or call 800 846-4472.
X-Charge Credit Card Processing – For those with access only to a dial-up connection X-Charge is a complete credit card processing solution with good per-transaction fees (click for more info).
ICVerify – of the three credit card processing solutions available through Retail Plus this is a the most expensive and complicated. Use it only if you need your merchant bank do the card processing. They are in Oakland, California and their number is 1-800-666-5777.
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Internet Hookup – If you have more than one store and the office is located across town (or across the ocean) you can use the internet to make stock levels, sales reports and inventory changes available to your organization. The internet is also a great way to do credit card approvals.

Pole Display – This device will show your customers what item is being checked out, the total due and the change owing. Between sales it will display a scrolling sales or greeting message of your own design. Retail Plus supports the Logic Controls PD-3000 serial port pole display. It is a good choice for attractive price and high reliability. Logic Controls, of New Hyde Park New York, can be reached at (516)248-0400. To see the PD3000 visit their web site.
Direct Connect Scales – If your weighing is done at the checkout counter you will want one of these. The Mettler-Toledo Viva is a good choice for quality and affordability. It handles up to 30 pounds or 14 kilos. The model number is XRV-3211. If you buy this or any other scale be sure to order the serial cable that goes with it. It uses a DB9 “null modem” serial cable and these are hard to find in regular computer shops.
Barcode Scales – If your weighing is done away from the checkout counter then you can use any scale that prints standard Random Weight Barcode labels. The label tells Retail Plus what it is and how much there is. The systems then adjusts inventory and calculates the price.
Credit Card Reader – This is a must for credit card and gift card processing. These can be connected to the same keyboard wedge as the barcode reader mentioned above or you can get USB models (make sure you get the type that does not require drivers).
Portable Stock Counter – You will want one of these if you have a large amount of barcoded stock that needs frequent counting. To do a fast inventory just walk along the shelves reading a barcode from each item and punch in the shelf count. When you are done transfer the information to your computer where Retail Plus can read it. You can now view a table that shows where the shelf count does not agree with the computer data. A good choice is the Mertrologic ScanPal available from Extreme Barcode. Their phone number is 1-866-398-7227.
POS Integrated Computers – Retail Plus will run on any Windows-based POS integrated hardware, sometimes called a POS deck. It takes a little more technical knowhow to configure it but this is a great way for computer shops to expand into the EPOS market!