How to Use a POS System: A Complete Guide

This guide offers a comprehensive overview of how to set up and use a POS system, as well as introducing advanced features that can benefit businesses.

Whether you’re considering implementing a POS system or already have one, this article will provide you with the knowledge and confidence to use it to its full potential. So, if you want to optimize your business operations and streamline your checkout process, read on!


A POS system is a computerized system that allows businesses to process transactions, track inventory, and manage customer data. It consists of hardware, such as a computer, printer, scanner, cash drawer, and software installed on the computer to manage these tasks.

The main purpose of a POS system is to streamline and simplify the process of conducting transactions, making it easier for businesses to track sales, manage inventory, and provide excellent customer service.

These systems can also run comprehensive reports and analyze sales data, helping you identify trends, boost your revenue, and effectively scale your business by making informed decisions.

There are many benefits to using a POS system, including the following:

  • Improved efficiency: With a POS system, transactions can be processed quickly and accurately, reducing the risk of errors and saving time.
  • Accurate tracking: A POS system allows businesses to accurately track sales, inventory, and customer data, providing valuable insights into the performance of the business.
  • Increased security: POS systems can securely process payments and store customer data, reducing the risk of fraud and identity theft.
  • Enhanced customer experience: With a POS system, businesses can quickly and easily process transactions, helping to create a more seamless and enjoyable shopping experience for customers.
  • Increased sales: A POS system can help businesses increase sales by streamlining the checkout process and providing real-time insights into their customer behavior.  
  • Enhanced employee productivity: A POS system can also help improve employee productivity by automating many tasks involved in running a business. For example, this software has features that can automatically calculate taxes, generate receipts, and track employee hours. All these things can free their employees to focus on other essential tasks to grow their businesses. 

Overall, a POS system can be helpful to businesses of all sizes. There are even industry-specific solutions designed to cater to the needs of companies in unique niches, including POS systems for gyms, hospitality businesses, retailers and so forth. This can empower any type of organization, regardless of the market it targets.Considering these benefits, this technology is indeed a worthwhile investment.

How to Set Up Your POS System (Step-by-Step)

Setting up and launching your POS system is much easier than it sounds.

Once you’ve obtained your POS software and hardware, you’ll have to set permissions and connect your systems.

Follow the steps below to establish your POS system and start making transactions more efficiently today.

1. Get the Right POS Equipment

Before setting up a POS system you will need to choose the right hardware and software that are compatible with each other. For instance, if you’re using Windows-based POS software, you must use hardware that’s compatible with Windows.

Most POS companies will provide the hardware you need to get started; however, here are some things to consider when selecting hardware:

  • Computer: You will need a computer or tablet to run the POS software, so be sure to choose one that is powerful enough to handle the tasks you need.
  • Mobile tablets: If you plan on taking orders table-side or on the go, you’ll want to consider a mobile POS in advance. Most modern restaurant pos systems and retail POS solutions have mobile capability.
  • Printer: A printer is necessary for printing receipts or kitchen chits, so choose one that is reliable and can handle the volume of printing you expect.
  • Scanner: A scanner is useful for quickly scanning barcodes on products, allowing you to quickly add items to an order.
  • Cash drawer: A cash drawer is used to store and organize cash and other forms of payment, so be sure to choose one that is secure and able to handle the volume of transactions you expect.

Once you have selected your hardware, you must install the POS App or POS software and any necessary drivers. This typically involves downloading the software and following the instructions to install it on your POS terminal or tablet device.

2. Install Your Software and Launch It 

There are two main types of POS software.

On-premises POS system software (usually Windows based) is niche-specific software that businesses can use to facilitate transactions. This software syncs with the POS equipment to facilitate point-of-sale transactions. Because on-premises software is only accessible from the terminal where it’s installed, it’s ideal for small, brick-and-mortar operations.

Cloud-based POS system software leverages the power of cloud-based systems to collect information from multiple terminals. These systems are ideal for larger businesses or entirely virtual since they allow various access points.

If your POS system leverages on-premises capabilities, it should already be installed on your server or terminal; however, if you are using cloud-based systems, you’ll need to download the app and connect to wifi.

Both options require you to make an account and enter your business information once you launch your software.

3. Sync Software and Hardware

Connect your POS equipment to the computer or tablet you’ll use as your POS system. Make sure that you connect the hardware correctly, and test each device to ensure that it’s functioning correctly.

Once you’ve connected your hardware, configure your POS software settings to ensure that the system recognizes the hardware. This step involves mapping hardware components like the barcode scanner, cash drawer, and receipt printer to specific functions in your POS software.

Testing POS Equipment

After setting up your POS software and hardware, test your system to ensure that it’s functioning correctly. Try processing a few transactions and printing receipts to make sure that everything is working as expected.

Watching instructional videos or having support walk you through the setup process to get the most out of the POS software capabilities and features is always a great idea.

4. Establish Inventory and Menu Items

Next, you must set up your inventory, menus, and employee accounts. This involves adding all of your products to the POS system, creating a menu of items for sale, and setting up employee accounts so that they can access the system and process transactions.

For example, setting up a menu for a restaurant POS system involves adding all the items you will be offering for sale, including item names, descriptions, prices, and relevant details. You may also need to create categories for your menu items and customize the settings and preferences of your POS system to reflect your business’s specific needs.

Most businesses will likely need to download and upload their inventories in bulk since manual entry can take time. You can typically upload a CSV file, importing your products simultaneously. 

If you own a simple one-stop shop, you can enter your product details manually using the instructions provided with the device.

5. Create Your Accounts and Set Settings 

You’ll be prompted to set up accounts when you download your software. These user accounts will allow employees and partners to access and use the POS system appropriately.

Remember to create accounts and set permissions for each user. Your employees, for example, should have different access than you do.

User logging to POS system

Enter the first and last name of the person and assign them to a group based on the permissions provided. You may also need to create a pin code for users to login to the POS.

Once everything is set up, you will need to customize your POS system’s settings and preferences to meet your business’s needs. This may include setting tax rates, adding payment methods, and customizing receipts.

Then, configure your settings to adjust to your preferences using the instructions. 

6. Select Payment Methods

The point of a POS system is to accept payments for transactions.

You’ll need to link your payment processors with your other devices. 

Go into your settings on your POS software and edit and remove payment methods according to your preferences. 

Most POS systems accept cards from all major banks, so you shouldn’t have a problem unless you plan to accept alternative credit card types. 

Be sure to research POS systems and which payment types they accept beforehand. If you plan to use unique payment platforms like PayPal, Apple Pay, or cryptocurrency, you’ll need to ensure that your POS system is compatible. 

7. Integrate Your Operations

The time has finally come to integrate your operations. 

You’ll need to connect your software to ensure smooth functioning. Most POS systems come with instructions on how to integrate with any number of the following systems:

  • Accounting
  • Payroll
  • Customer Service Management
  • Analytics
  • And reporting

Indeed, integrating your operations with your POS system can simplify business processes. For example, a POS system with payroll functionalities can help reduce manual data entry. With the integration, employee hours, sales, and other relevant information are automatically recorded in the POS system, eliminating the need for manual input. This can save your business a significant amount of time and money.  

Moreover, integrated POS and payroll software for devices like Mac and other popular electronics can help your business minimize the risk of errors in payroll processing. Once the data is entered, you can eliminate the possibility of human error. Lastly, incorporating POS and payroll software can ensure compliance with labor laws and tax regulations since it can track employee hours, wages, and deductions and generate reports which can be used to verify compliance with pertinent laws. 

But aside from payroll, it’s essential to know that your POS systems can be integrated with other business operations. Determine which integrations your business needs before deciding to improve efficiency.

8. Troubleshooting

If you run into any issues, identify the customer service contact information for your POS system’s software company or POS provider.

Sometimes, POS companies will send someone to help you manage troubleshooting issues.

Consider calling them if you have issues with any of the following capabilities.

  • Setup and onboarding
  • Configuring settings
  • Migrating data
  • Uploading inventory and contacts
  • Managing integrations
Store Clerk using POS software and taking an order

How to Use POS Software 

Using a POS system is relatively straightforward, but there are a few key tasks that you will need to perform regularly:

Placing Orders

POS software allows you to log your orders to track your transactions. 

To add items to an order in a POS system, the product’s barcode needs to be scanned, or the product’s information needs to be manually entered into the system. If it’s a restaurant POS, simply select the menu items to create a ticket.

To submit an order, select the items from the menu, adjust prices if necessary, and save the customized settings to log the order into the system.

Modifying an Order

You may need to modify an order by adding or removing items, applying discounts or promotions, or making other changes.

Modifying orders typically require manager approval.

Processing Payments

Although you’ll take payments using your POS terminal or credit card teminal, you can manage payments on your software system.

POS systems can process a variety of payment methods, including cash, credit cards, and gift cards. You’ll need an account with a merchant services provider to process payments.

To adjust payment methods, go to your settings and customize the credit card and payment types you wish to accept.

Printing Receipts

Most POS systems allow you to print receipts. A receipt will usually print after a transaction has been completed. However, you may also need to print your receipt manually by selecting the ‘print receipt” button on your system.

Receipts typically include information about the items purchased, the total cost, and the payment method used.

End of the Day

It is crucial to complete end-of-day procedures to ensure that all sales and transactions are accurately recorded and the cash drawer is correctly reconciled. This may involve closing the cash drawer, reconciling sales, and generating reports on the day’s activity.

Server Using POS Hardware

How to Use POS Hardware

POS hardware includes the physical components of a POS system. Suppose you have a restaurant business with multiple locations and need to take orders table-side.

In that case, you might not require traditional POS equipment but opt for a cloud-based solution like Toast’s restaurant POS system, as one example. Choosing the right software and hardware upfront to manage and process transactions is crucial.

If you work in person, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the many different types of POS hardware, including:

  • Cash drawers
  • Credit and debit card readers
  • Registers
  • Receipt printers
  • Tablets or touchscreen monitors
  • Barcode scanners
  • Scales
  • Automated kiosks
  • Label printers
  • And more 

The central POS hardware types and how to use them are as follows.

Touch Screen Monitors 

Most POS systems require a touchscreen monitor. You can use a designated terminal or a tablet—or even your phone—to launch your software.

Card Readers 

You’ll need a card reader to process your transactions. Enter the amount into the terminal, press Enter, and receive the payment. You can then provide a receipt. Some card readers are integrated into the POS terminal and some are stand alone units.

Related: 5 Proven Tips for Choosing the Right Credit Card Processor.

Barcode Scanners 

Many businesses require barcode scanners. The process of using a scanner is easy. You’ll use the wand to scan the barcode, ensuring it aligns with the red LED light. Then, you will enter your product into your inventory.

Receipt Printers

Your receipt printer will need a roll of paper, and you’ll have to integrate it with your other hardware systems. When you’re ready to print a receipt, run the transaction, hit “print receipt,” and hand it to the customer.

Printing a receipt on a restaurant POS

Proper Training and Support

Proper training and support are essential for ensuring that your employees can effectively use your POS system and provide excellent customer service. This can include training on how to process transactions, manage inventory, and handle customer inquiries.

It is vital to ensure that all employees are comfortable and confident using the system, as it will be a key part of their daily tasks. In addition to training, it is also essential to have access to support when issues or questions arise.

This can include technical support for hardware or software problems and support for handling specific tasks or questions about the system. Having a reliable support team can help ensure that your POS system is running smoothly and that your employees have the resources they need to succeed.

Related: 23 Restaurant Positions and How to Find the Right Staff

Benefits of POS Systems in Business 

There are numerous benefits to using a POS system in your business operations.

First, your system will empower you to conduct transactions more efficiently, improving customer service and giving your customers the confidence they need to become loyal patrons.

Additionally, a POS system allows you to track your inventory, monitor your revenue, and even keep a close eye on employee behaviors, making it easier to identify inefficiencies and prevent potential theft. By streamlining your management processes, you can ensure that your business is functioning optimally as planned and enjoy significantly greater operational efficiency.

Lastly, a high-functioning POS system will save you time, thus maximizing your revenue and improving your workflow significantly. 

Modern POS systems undoubtedly improve your operations, so consider using one for your business.

Advanced Features of a POS System to Know About

In addition to the basic tasks described above, many POS systems offer advanced features that can further streamline and improve the operations of your business. These features can include:

  • Inventory management: A POS system can help you track and manage your inventory, allowing you to easily add new products, track stock levels, and generate purchase orders when you need to restock.
  • Customer loyalty programs: Modern POS systems allow you to create and track customer loyalty programs, allowing you to issue loyalty points, rewards, and other perks to your best customers.
  • Customer relationship management: CRM-enabled POS system helps businesses to track customer behavior, preferences, and contact information to personalize marketing efforts and promotions, leading to increased customer loyalty, higher customer lifetime value, and greater business success.
  • Employee management: A POS system can also be used to manage employee schedules, track employee performance, and even handle tasks like clocking in and out.
  • Reporting and analytics: A POS system can generate various reports and analytics, allowing you to track sales, employee performance, and other vital metrics.


In conclusion, a POS system can significantly improve the efficiency and accuracy of your small business’s operations. By carefully selecting the proper hardware and small business point-of-sale software, setting up your system, and regularly using and maintaining it, you can make the most of the advanced features and benefits a POS system offers.

Regular updates and maintenance are key to ensuring that your system remains smooth and reliable and that you have accurate data to make informed business decisions.

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