Point of Sale Hardware

This article outlines the hardware and stationery you might need to setup a Point of Sale or barcode system.

Label Printers

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Label printers allow you to print out labels to attach to your product. To speed up processing at the point of sale it is suggested that a barcode is printed on the label. It is also suggested that barcode labels are printed to a label printer rather than a laser printer. The main reason for this is that labels for laser printers come in sheets of a certain number of labels. If the user only wanted ten labels and the sheet of labels had twenty one labels then eleven labels would be wasted as the laser printer starts the next job from the first label again. Label printers allow you to print out single width labels for as many labels as you require. Being non-impact means that they are also very quiet and quick.

Label printers are broken down into two types

  • Thermal Transfer. Thermal transfer requires that a ribbon be present in the printer to transfer the barcode image onto the paper.
  • Thermal Direct. Thermal direct does not require a ribbon but instead uses special paper and heat to produce the barcode image.

The decision on the type of printer you will select will generally be made based on the characteristics of the labels you want to print to.

Some label printers can print to both Thermal Transfer and Thermal Direct labels, while other label printers can only print to Thermal Direct labels.

Labels

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Labels come in different sizes and types. Consideration needs to be given to

  • The size and availability of that size of label. There are standard sizes that can be purchased off the shelf, but specific sizes generally require a special order of a minimum number of labels and being special order are generally more expensive.
  • The adhesive of the label. There are two types of adhesive, permanent and removable. Almost all off the shelf labels are permanent adhesive so if you are looking for removable labels then expect them to be special order labels.
  • The paper type of the label. As stated in ?Label Printers? there are two types of paper that can be used. Thermal Transfer paper is not specially treated as all it needs to do is have an image imprinted using a ribbon. Thermal Direct paper is specially treated to be affected by heat (and hence by light). If you rub a Thermal Direct label with your fingernail then the heat from friction will leave a black mark on the paper. You cannot use Thermal Transfer labels in a Thermal Direct printer as those labels are not treated to react to heat.

Barcode Scanners

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A barcode scanner can be likened to an additional keyboard. A barcode scanner reads a barcode and converts that barcode into a series of letters and numbers. It then enters those letters and numbers into the field that your cursor is currently resting on in your application.

It also then allows for the configuration of "delimiters" to speed up processing. A delimiter is a keyboard command that is passed from the scanner to tell the application what to do once the letters and numbers from the barcode are entered. As an example it may automatically send a tab keyboard command to the application so that the cursor tabs into the next field to speed up data entry.

There are different types of Barcode scanners. Consideration needs to be given to

  • The mobility of the scanner ie whether it is corded or wireless. You will not be moving too far away from your keyboard and screen, but you may need to reach further than a corded unit is able to move to scan an item (one that is resting on the floor as an example).
  • The type of scanner. There are two types of scanner, directional and omni-directional. Directional barcode scanners need to be lined up with the barcode to read it correctly. Omni-directional barcode scanners can read the barcode on an item upside down or even sideways. This allows for faster processing of barcoded items. Generally omni-directional scanners are desk based and corded.
  • The types of barcodes the scanner can read. Certain scanners (particularly older ones) can only read certain types of barcodes. Check that the barcode type you are planning on using in Vision can be read by your scanner.

A special note relating to barcodes. Some types of barcodes can only be created using numbers and some can use a combination of numbers and letters. Consider carefully before selecting a barcode type to use.

Receipt Printers

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Receipt printers are much like Thermal Direct label printers in that they use heat to transfer an image to the specially made receipt paper.

Receipt printers are used within the Point of Sale system to produce a tax invoice for your customers. This allows for a quick and quiet print out of the tax invoice with relevant data on an industry accepted receipt format.

Receipt printers can be setup to open the cash drawer or Point of Sale can be configured to open the cash drawer separately.

Again note with this type of receipt paper that it can fade over time in heat and light.

Cash Drawers

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Cash drawers hold the cash and other documentation from sales through the Point of Sale system. Point of Sale can be configured to open the drawer by sending a command to the cash drawer or the printer can be configured to open the cash drawer.