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#1
Old 12-02-2011, 09:21 PM
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How to marry a credit card machine to a cash register?

Why can't I find a cheap solution on the internet? Our merchant service provider offers us a $4000 POS system, far beyond what we need. We just want one cash register with a way to integrate a credit card machine that doesn't require us to input credit card sales information twice (once in the cash register, once on a separate credit card machine). The credit card network has to be Nashville or Cardnet. Anyone know a better place to ask this question?
#2
Old 12-02-2011, 09:41 PM
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Does it need to be linked to a physical cash register? There are online vendors you can subscribe to that will process the credit transaction through the internet. So you can use any hooked up computer, and the vendor will have a record of all the transactions. I'm sure you can find other software to emulate a cash register for cash and checks as well, and then you can keep the actual cash and checks in a box. It might be impractical for a retail store with a lot of transactions, though for some business with larger, less frequent transactions, I would think it would be fine.

I haven't been using a system like this for a couple of years now, so the services are probably considerably expanded.
#3
Old 12-02-2011, 10:04 PM
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When you say they offered you a $4000 POS system are you saying they offered you a $4000 POS system for free or that they want you to purchase it? Assuming they want you to purchase it how about going back to them and asking for a cheaper one?
Have you checked with some of your local POS supply stores? They may have some machines there better suited for your needs. You might also want to look into used machines (which they will likely have). Don't forget to check into Craigslist as well. After you have some options then it's a matter of making sure it'll work with your processor and having it reprogrammed which you may be able to do yourself or you may have to send it somewhere to have it done.

Who's your credit card processor?

Do you have a local rep you can talk to in person rather then dealing with some random person at a call center thousands of miles away that's just reading from a script?

Stay away from Intuit/Quickbooks as a processor. I use their accounting software and a few times a year I can't email invoices and get a pop up box saying the system is down and to check facebook/twitter for updates. It's not a big deal for me since it's just a few invoices I need to email, but I feel bad for all the people complaining that they can't process credit cards during the all to often outages.

How much do you want to spend to take one small step out of com completing a sale? We've have a standalone credit card machine and I can't imagine spending all that much money just to integrate it into out registers. We'll probably be buying new registers in the next year or two and we still likely won't have them integrated. For us it's just not worth the extra cost.

Finally, how happy are you with your current processor? If you switch to a new processor, you might be able to get them to give you a POS as part of becoming a new customer or at least one at a reduced priced.

Oh, one more thing. You could also look into leasing them. With credit card machines it's typically a terrible deal to lease them, but it's an option.
#4
Old 12-02-2011, 10:10 PM
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And I was thinking POS stood for "piece of shit" but I just realized you probably intended it to mean "point of sale".
#5
Old 12-02-2011, 10:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boyo Jim View Post
And I was thinking POS stood for "piece of shit" but I just realized you probably intended it to mean "point of sale".
Throughout my years in retail or experience with retail, I have always valued the coincidence of those two abbreviations.
#6
Old 12-03-2011, 12:31 AM
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Processor is a major bank. We don't want to switch. They use the two cc "networks" I cited above. I can look for a used system once I know what systems allow the credit cards to be recorded on the cash register tape. Finding that system is difficult!

Entering the amounts twice in two different systems leads to operator error and accounting headaches. We are required to have the register tape at the end of the day reflect credit card sales accurately.
#7
Old 12-03-2011, 02:37 AM
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There are cash register apps for PC's that you can get for a modest amount. You just install it on your PC, and it's a cash register. Well, it helps if you buy a little additional specialized hardware... Like a cash drawer, a bar code scanner, a scale (if you are selling weighed items), a receipt printer, and perhaps a POS keyboard, and maybe a customer pole display. Since you specifically want to do credit cards, of course you would need a PIN-pad, like a Veriphone or some such. These devices can all connect to standard PC ports (usually COM ports, but lately more and more via USB ports).

The PIN-pad should integrate directly with your POS app, which in turn should know how to go directly on-line and talk to your credit card processor.

There are also additional useful products that can integrate with all this. For example, there are hand-held scanners that you can walk around the store with, scanning the items on your shelves, and it will collect that information, upload it wirelessly to your PC app, to take a census of your inventory. (You see these in use in supermarkets all the time.) You can get label printers that can integrate with your app, to print price tags (including bar codes) using data directly from your app's PLU/SKU file.

Some systems do all their own internal data file management. Others rely on a back-end database manager like Microsoft SQL Server or Oracle or MySQL or whatever.

As you shop around, ask specifically for these sorts of features. There are software firms out there offering products like these. Be sure to ask for references, so you can check it out with other happy end-user merchants before you buy. Be sure to ask the references how happy they are with the software vendor's after-sale technical support.

ETA: There are low-end systems out there that might be just what your are looking for. There are mid-size systems, and big high-end systems. One company that I have often heard of is called Aloha, but I know very little about them.

Last edited by Senegoid; 12-03-2011 at 02:38 AM.
#8
Old 12-03-2011, 02:46 AM
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(Missed edit window for above post)

With a little googling, I see that Aloha is mainly into POS for restaurant and hospitality applications.

If you google for Pos Systems, you can find plenty of on-line re-sellers, so there's plenty of shopping-around to be done. Here's just one example: POSGuys.com

I'm sure you can find a decent low-end system out there.

(ETA: No, that isn't the POS software company I used to work for, so I'm not shilling for them.)

Last edited by Senegoid; 12-03-2011 at 02:47 AM.
#9
Old 12-03-2011, 08:19 PM
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Most mid to high end cash registers have some way to connect to a credit card terminal. Try calling some shops in your area that sell them, you should be able to get a setup for less than $4000.
#10
Old 12-03-2011, 10:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rusalka View Post
Why can't I find a cheap solution on the internet? Our merchant service provider offers us a $4000 POS system, far beyond what we need. We just want one cash register with a way to integrate a credit card machine that doesn't require us to input credit card sales information twice (once in the cash register, once on a separate credit card machine). The credit card network has to be Nashville or Cardnet. Anyone know a better place to ask this question?
<Veteran quickbooks POS system installer and PcAmerica POS Authorized reseller hat on>

What is your current cash register solution?

By the time you buy all the pieces and have it professionally set up, you are looking at $3-4K per station no matter what. You either end up buying PITA to setup stuff piecemeal or you buy an integrated package like QBPOS, Aloha, PcAmerica, etc. Many of these system have limited cross sections of peripherals that they work with and a lay user has about zero chance of "building thier own package for less" and still having hair, or a fully functional system after the fact. Especially if you are looking at an environment with multiple registers or especially multiple stores, this is not a job for for DIY types.

Quickbooks POS can be done by a lay user and some patience but doing the initial accounting side and inventory input needs to be done properly or you will screw your books indefinitely. I have a quickbooks pro advisor I work with who helps the store with the accounting side after I do the hardware/base software install.

Biggest words of advise... POS equipment is famous for having no 64 bit driver support, none, nada. Some also have issues with non pro versions of win7, especially if it is hosting for multiple registers. So running out and buying any ol PC off the shelf is also often unadvisable.
#11
Old 12-03-2011, 10:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Senegoid View Post
(Missed edit window for above post)
If you google for Pos Systems, you can find plenty of on-line re-sellers, so there's plenty of shopping-around to be done. Here's just one example: POSGuys.com
My only issue with these kinds of systems is they are small form factor cases. Any mission critical system should use easily aquired parts or plan on having good backups and a spare system to swap out. Its not a bad idea anyway. Large POS installs like a walmart or large restaraunts like cheescake factory are often driven by server clusters (about $20K in hardware, software, and setup alone), not because of the workload, but because they do not want to lose tens of thousands of dollars an hour because a power supply or hard drive took a crap.
#12
Old 12-04-2011, 02:50 AM
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Just wanted to point out that QuickBooks POS does not require that Intuit be the merchant service provider.

In any event, there are few cheap POS solutions. They're targeted at businesses that do hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in transactions, so even something in the tens of thousands is not that expensive. More importantly, a good POS that suits your needs is worth every penny. The time lost in added training manager overrides, inventory corrections, etc. means a good system pays for itself.

My recommendation is to find a local consultant, preferably one who knows your industry, can provide multiple product lines and will help setup and support the final solution.
#13
Old 12-04-2011, 05:26 AM
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Is this legal whilst Prop. 8 stands?
#14
Old 12-04-2011, 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by njtt View Post
Is this legal whilst Prop. 8 stands?
I think its buried somewhere in the Obamacare legislation.
#15
Old 12-05-2011, 04:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dracoi View Post
Just wanted to point out that QuickBooks POS does not require that Intuit be the merchant service provider.

In any event, there are few cheap POS solutions. They're targeted at businesses that do hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in transactions, so even something in the tens of thousands is not that expensive. More importantly, a good POS that suits your needs is worth every penny. The time lost in added training manager overrides, inventory corrections, etc. means a good system pays for itself.

My recommendation is to find a local consultant, preferably one who knows your industry, can provide multiple product lines and will help setup and support the final solution.
Our current solution is a cash register, and a credit card machine. That's it. That's all we need. We don't carry an inventory. I can't even figure out how to find a "local pos store". Most of the people I talk to, including our bank, say we need an internet connection. Right now we're using a phone line and I fail to see why we need to pay for anything more. I'm not transmitting images along with my credit card transaction! I just want a cash register or POS system that communicates with the credit card machine so that I can input sales info on the cash register instead of the cc machine keyboard.

I called a POS place on the internet which sells used systems and they told me we would have to pay $20 a month for the "Gateway" access. I'm not clear what that is. I need to learn more about how these credit card services work, and what pieces need to connect with what so I don't buy the wrong kind of system.
#16
Old 12-05-2011, 06:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rusalka View Post
Our current solution is a cash register, and a credit card machine. That'Right now we're using a phone line and I fail to see why we need to pay for anything more. I'm not transmitting images along with my credit card transaction! I just want a cash register or POS system that communicates with the credit card machine so that I can input sales info on the cash register instead of the cc machine keyboard.
s it. That's all we need. We don't carry an inventory. I can't even figure out how to find a "local pos store". Most of the people I talk to, including our bank, say we need an internet connection.
I called a POS place on the internet which sells used systems and they told me we would have to pay $20 a month for the "Gateway" access. I'm not clear what that is. I need to learn more about how these credit card services work, and what pieces need to connect with what so I don't buy the wrong kind of system.
I will respond to this in detail a little later, in a nutshell what you want to happen is not something your average cash register is capable of. POS systems that can marry cc transactions to proper sales tracking involve software, what kind of business is this? I can far more accurately answer the question if I know a little more about it. feel free to PM me if its not something you want to discuss openly.
#17
Old 12-05-2011, 08:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rusalka View Post
Our current solution is a cash register, and a credit card machine. That's it. That's all we need. We don't carry an inventory. I can't even figure out how to find a "local pos store".
You won't find a local POS store as most of the time this is all custom setup to order. Any decent computer place locally probably has some experience with it, just a matter of calling around

Quote:
Most of the people I talk to, including our bank, say we need an internet connection. Right now we're using a phone line and I fail to see why we need to pay for anything more. I'm not transmitting images along with my credit card transaction! I just want a cash register or POS system that communicates with the credit card machine so that I can input sales info on the cash register instead of the cc machine keyboard.
All POS solutions will have live communications with CC/debit card readers, some of them can still use a dial up line but most these days are designed with routers and high speed internet in mind. This allows for dozens of POS terminals to run credit cards without worrying about who is using the line at that moment.

It basically works as follows,
Transaction generated by POS system
Transaction amount dumps to CC/debit terminal for customer to swipe/key in pin.
Transaction is handed off to POS to relay to merchant service gateway
Merchant service gateway replies with authorizations
POS shows card approved and saves payment data
Receipt generated

Quote:
I called a POS place on the internet which sells used systems and they told me we would have to pay $20 a month for the "Gateway" access. I'm not clear what that is. I need to learn more about how these credit card services work, and what pieces need to connect with what so I don't buy the wrong kind of system.
They probably have a merchant service brokerage as part of their business or someone they work with. They are wanting you to change to their CC processing. I have actually heard that some of these places make more money on CC processing than they do on the systems.
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