Did You Know A Traditional POS System Can Lose You Money?

Elly Team
April 7, 2022

The first form of trading goods was bartering. This was simply a processing of swapping goods with someone for other goods perceived to be of fair value. Various types of tools were exchanged in the beginning and then livestock became a popular payment form. As agriculture became established, grains and other foods were routinely traded.  

The concept of money, essentially a type of token with only a deemed value, dates back to around 1200 BC in China. Cowrie shells were adopted as currency and remained a form of payment in some parts of the world for many centuries. 

China again led the charge with the first metal coins. These were miniature tokens representing the various tradable assets of the time. Coins as we now know them, however, were first manufactured in the kingdom of Lydia, now western Turkey, in around 600 BC. The portability of these coins opened trading across a wider area and the concept was rapidly adopted in many other regions. 

The 9th century saw the emergence of paper money. Again, China was the innovator. Over the next several centuries coins and notes remained the most common payment medium. Interestingly, overproduction of paper money spiked inflation in China and they discontinued its use in 1455 for several centuries. 

Credit cards began to emerge around the middle of the 20th century. The holder of a credit card was able to pay for their purchases with the card and no longer needed to carry so much cash. Although supplemental to the traditional POS systems in use at the time, the credit card brought a significant change to the way we paid for things.

Although credit cards were revolutionary, the payment process was still manual until the late 1990s. The advent of the internet was the catalyst for the next major transformation. The internet enabled digital transactions which made the payment process significantly faster and greatly reduced the amount of cash changing hands. It also reduced the number of checks and credit card vouchers that banks had to process manually every day.

The POS machine evolution

Surprisingly, the first traditional pos system was invented way back in 1879. Shopkeeper James Ritty suspected that employees may have been siphoning off part of the cash sales proceeds. To allay his fear, he created a mechanical cashier machine which he dubbed Ritty's Incorruptible Cashier. 

Some subsequent enhancements to Ritty's device yielded what became known as the cash register. Little else happened, though, for almost a century. Then, in 1973, IBM launched the first computerized POS system. This was a sizable network of cash registers linked to each other through a Local Area Network and recording all sales and statistics in a central database. 

When credit cards started appearing from the 1950s onwards, the traditional pos system had to be adapted to accept the cards as a means of payment. Payments were initially processed by imprinting the card details on a paper voucher, a sometimes slow and tedious exercise. POS systems evolved rapidly, though. Touch screen technology, the magnetic strip on credit cards and digital data transmission heralded the age of fully electronic POS processing.

Further innovation, such as the embedded chip, wireless and near field communication and blockchain technology have brought us to the current state. The POS terminals of today are compact handheld devices that provide all the functionality needed to process a sales transaction and accept payment on the move. Some terminals can accommodate integrated reports that facilitate a comprehensive statistical analysis of sales and payment data as well as inventory control.   

How do traditional POS systems work?

A complete POS solution is usually made up of at least a cash register and a card payment device that are connected through a network to a single software application or suite of separate applications. Separate applications required manual processing to synchronize all the data and this compromised the security benefits of traditional POS systems. Integrated software applications became the norm.  

Some POS setups also include barcode or RFID scanners. This functionality automated the entry of items in the customer's cart. Not only was it so much quicker to get everything “rung up”, but it also improved data accuracy because it eliminated the errors of manual product code input by the cashier.   

The traditional pos system was a game changer for the retail industry. Linking a cash register and a payment processing device to the same data repository brought about a whole new level of controls and analytics. Controls over sales and inventory for loss prevention and analysis of data to better understand customer habits and preferences. Both retailers and customers benefited greatly.

Cash registers began as manually operated mechanical machines. Over time, they evolved into sophisticated computers with formidable processing power and advanced features. High resolution touch screens and fast transaction processing speed made these devices very efficient.    

How are traditional POS systems responsible for losing you money?

The benefits brought about by this technology didn’t come for nothing though.  Switching to a fully integrated and automated system often required a quite substantial hardware and network installation. The cost was often quite significant.

Card payment devices are linked to a card network such as Visa, Mastercard or American Express. All transactions are subject to a variety of fees and commissions that could amount to a substantial chunk of the transaction value.  

Slow processing speed and static terminals detract from a good customer experience. At busy times, with long slow-moving queues, the risk of a customer abandoning a purchase is high. Although this is not an actual cost, the lost profit erodes overall margins. Added to this, traditional POS systems may not have sufficient data security and coupled with slow communications, the fraud risk increases.  

EllyPos is changing the traditional POS industry

The Elly POS terminal is a sure way to address all of these possible risks and to minimize losses and the unnecessary costs of a POS system. Elly offers among the best fee structures in the POS industry. With highly secure dynamic data encryption, fraud risk is as low as is currently possible. Fully mobile terminals with high-speed wireless data transfer enhance the customer experience and mitigates customer churn.

All-in-all, the Elly POS terminal is the way of the future.

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