How to Work a Cash Register: A Complete Guide

A cash register is a simple device that you find at the Point of Sale used to calculate transactions and record the same electronically. Modern-day cash registers are more than just cash drawers. Rather it’s a combination of smart hardware and software that can handle several processes.

But how do you use a cash register? Whether you are using a traditional register or a tablet, knowing how to work with a cash register might be intimidating. However, with a bit of practice, you’ll be ringing up customers like a pro in no time!

Continue reading the post to learn more about how to work with a cash register effectively.

How to set up a cash register

How to setup a cash register

An important process when working with a cash register involves properly setting them up to begin with. When you pay attention to detail and follow the procedures, you can make sure that the cash register is ready to perform a transaction.

Below listed are the steps needed for setting up the register.

Step 1: Find a convenient place for the cash register

When searching for the perfect spot to place the cash register or POS terminal, look at customer traffic, ensure it is easy to locate, and think about adjacent areas, such as lines or items that may be bought simultaneously.

Arrange your register for optimal efficiency and convenience for everyone involved, and use technology to speed up transactions and boost customer satisfaction.

Step 2: Insert the battery (if required)

The battery will provide backup power for traditional cash registers in case of a power failure.

First, you should insert the battery and install it properly before operating the cash register. This also helps ensure your register stays programmed and doesn’t lose settings.

Install the battery by following the instructions from the device manual. Start by removing the receipt cover to get the battery compartment. Use a screwdriver and open the receipt cover.

After that, close the cover of the battery compartment. It is good to replace the battery yearly so the cash register can work continuously and stably.

Step 3: Insert the paper receipt rolls

How to replace receipt paper roll

The next step involves installing the paper receipt rolls. Find the paper feed or receipt printer and open the compartment cover.

Then insert the new paper and unroll enough paper to reach past the tear point. Make sure to insert paper so it goes downwards when it winds around rollers.

To prevent undesirable situations later, test the machine with the installed paper roll using the FEED button or run a test transaction. If everything is working fine, the register will be ready to print receipts.

Step 4: Unlock the cash drawer

Check if it has a key lock to unlock the cash drawer when setting up a cash register. If so, use the appropriate key and insert it into the lock.

Turn the key clockwise until a click indicates the drawer is unlocked. Alternatively, if an opener lever is at the bottom of the notches in front of the cash drawer, press down and pull it open.

Make sure to secure both locks with accompanying keys or latches after unlocking and before closing again. After the cash drawer opens, put the key in a safe place. Don’t lose the key!

Step 5. Turn the register on

Turn on and configure cash register

Locate the On & Off switch at the back or side to turn on a cash register. You may need a key to operate it, depending on the make and model.

If so, you will typically find the key in the front of the register (as mentioned in Step 4). Move the key to the appropriate position for activating the machine.

Sometimes, there may be a “Mode” button instead of an On & Off switch. Press this button and select either Active or Register mode to turn on your cash register.

For modern POS terminals, it will be as simple as turning on the POS device.

Step 6. Configure the cash register

This can be the most time-consuming part of the steps. Configuring a cash register, in a retail store, as an example, requires you to set up certain items such as taxable items, the time and date, and other functions like PST, GST, and VAT.

To do this, use the function buttons on your register. You must read the manual for most cash registers and use the mode button to install different functions.

Finally, ensure that all items in inventory are correctly entered into the system with pricing. Once these settings are complete, your cash register will be fully operational.

Step 7. Attach other POS devices

Enhancing the customer experience of your retail store and staying organized with sales tracking can be easily achieved by attaching other POS devices to a cash register or POS terminal.

Compatible hardware such as barcode scanners, debit and credit card readers, printers, and cash drawers must be acquired to make it happen.

To establish a connection between the device and the register/terminal, one needs to either use a USB cable or employ Bluetooth technology – making sure to read both pieces of equipment’s user manual or work with tech support for proper setup.

Step 8. Close the cash register

After the business day or shift ends, never forget to close the cash drawer, as this reduces the chance of theft.

Also, empty and balance the cash drawers before storing them securely. Doing this helps ensure accuracy and security during all transactions.

We go into more details on closing out the register below!

How to prepare for your shift

Prepare for shift at register

Setting up the cash register is an important step in preparing for a shift at the register. By following the proper procedures and paying attention to detail, you can ensure that the register is ready for business and that your shift runs smoothly.

Here are the steps for preparing for a shift at the cash register:

How to work a cash register
Start the register
Activate the cash register by pressing the power button or by flipping the ON/OFF switch. This will boot up the system, ready to be operated.
Log In
Log in with your employee ID and password to get access to the register and to complete transactions.
Check supplies
Verify that the register tape, printer paper, and cash drawer are correctly loaded and prepared for use. This might include adding extra paper or balancing the register before starting the shift.
Balance register
Balance out any discrepancies between the purchase amount and total revenue collected at the end of each shift.
Closing out – Empty cash register
Empty any excess cash in the drawer at the end of each shift and store it securely until needed again.
Keep secure
Securely lock up the register when not being used. This is an important safety measure to protect the business and customers.

Following these simple steps, you can ensure that the cash register is set up and ready for your shift.

Paying attention to detail and following the proper procedures will help you work more efficiently and effectively and will also help to prevent any mistakes or issues that may arise at your station.

How to handle transactions

By following the proper procedures and paying attention to detail, you can ensure that transactions are completed accurately and efficiently.

Here are some tips and steps for handling transactions at the cash register:

  1. Greet the customer and ask if they are ready to pay.
  2. Start by login into the register by entering the password or security code. Some devices may even need emails or employee IDs to attribute sales.
  3. Scan every item by placing them under the scanner. Or, you can enter the price manually by using a keyboard. While you scan the items and enter the prices, the cash register automatically calculates the total pricing.
  4. After that, accept the payment from the customer when they are ready. Next, give the customers the correct change. Be sure to count the change back and double-check calculations to avoid mistakes.
  5. If the customer is paying with a debit or credit card, swipe the card through the credit card reader or enter the card number manually. Take the customer’s signature whenever necessary.
  6. Still, there might be customers who want to pay with a check. Follow the employer’s procedures to verify the authenticity of the check. Also, checking customer identification is equally necessary.
  7. Thank the customer for their business and bid them farewell.

And that’s it! You’ve just completed a transaction at the cash register. While it will not be the same for every business, this gives you an overview of how to handle transactions at the register.

Now let’s take a look at how to accept different forms of payment.

Related: How to Use a POS System: A Complete Guide

How to accept different forms of payment

Another important part of how to work a cash register involves accepting payments in different forms. There is no denying that customers may want to pay using cash, credit or debit cards, or even checks.

Hence, it is important to know how to handle the different payment options. Take a closer look at these forms of payment.

  • Cash: When it comes to payment at the POS or cash register, cash is the most popular form of payment. Accepting cash from customers is simple. All you need to do is count the right amount of money. Give the customers the chance. However, double-check your calculations and count cash carefully. That way, your register doesn’t come up short.
  • Debit and credit cards: Many customers prefer to pay either with credit cards or debit cards. Payment with cards is a more secure and convenient way other than carrying a large amount of cash. When accepting a credit or debit card for payment, swipe the card via the reader. If needed, enter the information manually. You may even need signatures from the customers.
  • Checks: Although checks aren’t the common way to pay, you may still get them from customers. To accept payment, you have to follow certain procedures by the employer. Start by getting the identification of customers and verifying their checks with the bank. Moreover, you can record the information of the check on the register tape.

It’s important to remember that each form of payment has its own set of rules and procedures, so it’s crucial to follow them carefully to avoid any mistakes or issues. Your merchant service provider can help with the rules and regulations for card payments.

By familiarizing yourself with the different forms of payment and how to accept them, you’ll be well-prepared to handle any transaction that comes your way.

How to print a receipt

How to print a receipt at the register

Your register hardware will include a printer. Printing receipts for your customers is an easy task when working a cash register. Receipts represent a record of the transactions. They help customers to monitor their purchases.

Follow these steps to print a receipt at your cash register.

  • After completing the transaction, check to find out whether or not the customer wants a receipt. Because not every customer may want a receipt, it is good to ask before printing and wasting paper. Note: Some systems may send an email or text receipt.
  • Press the “print receipt” or print option button on the cash register if the customer has requested a receipt. Alternatively, a receipt may print automatically after completing the transaction.
  • The device will print out the receipt, and you have to hand over the same to the customer. Ensure that the customer receives the original receipt and not the copy of the receipt that you should keep for the records.
  • If the register is having trouble printing the receipt, try checking for any paper jams or low ink levels. If the issue persists, you may need to call for technical assistance.

You should understand that some receipts may contain sensitive information, such as the name and addresses of customers. So, handle them with confidentiality and care.

Keep in mind to keep the receipts in a secure place. You can dispose of the receipts when they are no longer needed.

How to void a transaction on a cash register

How to void a transaction on a cash register

There are times when the staff may enter the wrong information or the wrong amount. Sometimes, customers may even want a refund. In that case, you have to credit the refund or cancel to void the transaction. Here is how to work in these scenarios.

1. Cancel the transaction

When a customer doesn’t want to buy an item or two after you entered the price into the system or you have wrongly entered the price of certain items, you have to remove the items from the subtotal or cancel the sale.

To void the transaction on the register, follow these simple steps.

  • Enter the right amount that you entered wrongly earlier.
  • Use the VD or VOID button on the cash register to remove the specific amount from the subtotal.
  • If you want to cancel the total discount on several items, you have to go through every item to cancel every item separately.

2. Refund transaction

When there comes a situation where you need to refund the customer, you can do that with ease by following these steps.

  • Get to the refund function by pressing the related button.
  • Insert the quantity of the items along with the price information. Press the corresponding key to follow next.
  • Go to the subtotal button to press the AMT TND or CASH button. As such, the cash drawer opens. Refund the exact amount to the customer.
  • If they use a credit/debit card, you can issue a full or partial refund by entering their information into the system and following your store’s refund policies.

An important thing to remember is that only the manager or specific employees can access this functionality. Before processing refunds and returns, the cash register may also ask the user for the password.

How to close out the register

Close out cash register

Closing the cash register at the end of the day or a session is an important step. That way, it ensures that the POS terminal or cash register is ready for another shift and that all the previous transactions have been accounted for.

Here are the steps for closing out the register:

  1. Reconcile the register tape with the cash in the drawer. This means comparing the total amount of cash that should be in the drawer based on the register tape with the actual amount of cash in the drawer. You’ll need to make the necessary adjustments if there are any discrepancies.
  2. Complete any necessary paperwork or reports. This may include filling out a shift report or completing any end-of-day reports required by the business.
  3. Lock the register and secure it for the night. This is a crucial safety precaution to protect your business from theft.

By following these steps, you can ensure that the cash register is properly closed out at the end of your shift. Paying attention to detail and following the proper procedures will help prevent any mistakes or issues that may arise and help ensure that the register is ready for the next day.

Keep practicing!

Congratulations, you’re now a cash register pro! But don’t stop there – the more you practice, the better you’ll get. So keep ringing up those customers, and you’ll be a cash register master in no time!

If you want to migrate from a traditional cash register or need a POS upgrade, check out our list of the top small business POS systems.


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