We have all at least seen a cash register if not used one.  Cash registers are an integral part of retail businesses and most cannot operate without one.  Invented by James Ritty after the Civil War out of necessity for the running of his saloon.  His main goal was to stop employees from skimming money and he got the idea after seeing a tool that counted the revolutions of propellers for steamships.  Patented in 1883, the cash register soon took on a life of its own and after being sold a few times, finally settled into what it is today.

Today the cash register does not require you to break a nail while pushing down huge buttons that were known for sticking down and causing all sorts of problems.  There are no longer number tabs that pop up to show you the amount being rung up, but rather most registers are computerized.  Computer cash registers are available in many forms today and may consist of just a simple program that you run on your desktop computer that uses an interface just like a regular cash register to entire pos systems that come complete with bar code scanners, a till drawer and receipt printer.  Pos cash registers are what most of us are familiar with today as all the large retailers use them.

Computer cash registers or pos cash registers are highly advanced and will do everything from ringing up the customer’s purchases to doing your taxes.  Many of the systems will come with a program that keeps track of your inventory which will save you time and money by streamlining the process and not having to do physical inventory.  Don’t forget the options like bar code scanners and laser receipt printers that will help keep your business running smoothly.

Touch screen cash registers are the first choice among restaurants and grocery stores.  These registers will display menu choices and options that will make ordering quicker by just pressing the screen.  Restaurant cash registers are designed so that the kitchen will receive the order when the wait staff enters it into the computer so they can begin preparing immediately.  This makes for a much more efficient restaurant.  Many of these pos systems also come with age verification software which is handy for those in the bar business.  These registers also allow for unique user id’s that keep track of each person who uses the register, their orders and their sales.  Most are able to download your business for that day or week into tax programs such as Quick-books.

The importance of cash register tape might seem little, but this is an important addition to any system and should be allowed some consideration before purchase.  Today, most register systems and credit card machines use thermal paper for receipts.  This paper requires special thermal printers that burn the image into the paper.  Laser printers are also used and they have their own special type of receipt paper as well.  These types of printers do not require ink, which is one less expense because in the long run ink will cost you a fortune, but they are much pricier up front than your regular paper receipt printers.

Below is a list of registers and prices that you can expect to pay:

  • 8 Department Standard Electronic Cash Register (recommended for small businesses) starting at around $100 – These registers are very basic, but for the small retailer they are perfect – They use standard paper for their receipt printing
  • 40 to 99 Department Standard Electronic Cash Register (recommended for small to midsized businesses) from $200-$350 – Same considerations as register above
  • Touch Screen Cash Register (varies depending on size and bundles/options, recommended for restaurants and bars) $500-$2500 – These registers will almost always be used with thermal or laser receipt printers
  • POS Systems (varies depending on size and options) $1500-$3200 – Used almost always with laser or thermal printers.