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What are POS systems?
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What are POS systems?

5 min read

We’re no longer living in a cash-first world, so if your business involves selling to people face-to-face you may need a ‘point of sale’, or POS system, to allow customers to tap, insert or swipe their cards or phones. POS terminals can also be used for ‘card not present’ (CNP) transactions too, meaning many different types of business can use them.

POS systems are made up of hardware with software applications that vary according to your business needs, so we’ll run you through the basics to help you choose which system will work best for you.

What is a POS system?

Not long ago, cash registers and manual imprinters were the only point of sale systems around to take money for the sale of goods and services. With the adoption of computerised systems, we’ve come a long way from cash-only till transactions. A modern POS till system can now support many key business functions, from bookkeeping to taking email receipts, and help you make decisions – for example, about your pricing strategy, marketing or brand loyalty programmes – based on real information about your customers.

POS systems can be hosted at your premises, or they can be run as a cloud-based system that can be accessed from anywhere. The latest systems are run behind the scenes by EPOS, or electronic point of sale, which give you access to a whole world of modern tech to support your business.

What does a POS system do?

A good POS system may help you to run your day to day business more effectively by cutting down on admin and paperwork. It may be able to automate some of the more straightforward tasks, such as reconciling your reported transactions with the Tyl Portal (fees and eligibility criteria apply), potentially leading to fewer human errors and freeing your time up to focus on what really matters for your business. And with a better understanding of sales patterns (which you may be able to understand from your POS system), you may be able to make decisions based on what your customers really want.

POS systems may help you to:

  • Manage inventory: a simple way to monitor stock and get real-time information on availability, keeping customers happy by providing what they want, when and where they want it.
  • Improve sales: when a POS system records transactions, it creates a detailed record of what you’re selling. You can use this to track popular products, successful members of the sales team and cycles of demand. Having easy access to this level of information could help you make better decisions about the next week, months and years for your business.
  • Manage customer data: your POS system could help you understand what customers really want and help inform you on how to reward your most loyal customers. Order histories, customer profiles and loyalty programs – see Tyl Rewards for inspiration – can help you get to know your customers and can be a powerful tool for business growth.
  • Adapt to business needs: as your business grows and your needs change, your POS system should be able to adapt and grow with you.

Types of POS hardware

Along with the software that you use to manage your POS, retail till systems may be made up of some or all of the following hardware. While needs for a small restaurant or a chain of retail stores may be very different in the detail, these basic components could make up the system that is right for your business:

  • POS terminal: This is the heart of the POS system. On your POS terminal you can take debit or credit card payments from customers. You can use Tyl’s virtual terminal on devices such as your tablet, phone or laptop.
  • Cash drawer: If you’re still in the business of taking cash payments, a cash drawer lets you collect cash and give change. The Clover Flex has accessories available on the market to connect your cash drawer with your POS terminal.
  • Receipt printer: With some POS terminals – such as the Clover Flex – a receipt printer can sometimes be connected wirelessly or via USB to the terminal. Alternatively, your credit card terminal might have the ability to print its own. In a restaurant you might use a receipt printer to send orders through to the kitchen.
  • Barcode scanner: A handheld barcode scanner will scan items so they can be entered into the system – such as a Clover Flex – keeping tabs on your inventory either wirelessly or via USB.

Other types of POS hardware available include label printers and scales if you sell products by weight. You might need some or all of these when you are getting started or when you start to grow, so a flexible and scalable approach to hardware choice may be invaluable.

How Tyl’s POS system helps manage your business

It can be tricky to get your head around all the different aspects of how a POS system works. Our guide to EPOS systems may help shed some light on how Tyl devices can (and can’t) link with your existing payment systems.

Perhaps the closest Tyl machine to an all-singing, all-dancing EPOS system is the Clover Flex. It’s a flexible all-in-one POS system that offers the big-player functionality of POS in a perfect package designed with you in mind. The compact and mobile Clover Flex pulls everything you need into a central hub, from payments to inventory and customer management through the Tyl Portal. Supported by handy apps, such as ‘sale’, ‘refund’ and ‘reporting’, and useful tools in the Clover App marketplace, it could be the perfect payment partner to help you manage and grow your business.


This has been prepared by Tyl by NatWest for informational purposes only and should not be treated as advice or a recommendation. There may be other considerations relevant to you and your business so you should undertake your own independent research.

Tyl by NatWest makes no representation, warranty, undertaking or assurance (express or implied) with respect to the adequacy, accuracy, completeness, or reasonableness of the information provided.

Tyl by NatWest accepts no liability for any direct, indirect, or consequential losses (in contract, tort or otherwise) arising from the use of the information contained herein. However, this shall not restrict, exclude, or limit any duty or liability to any person under any applicable laws or regulations of any jurisdiction which may not be lawfully disclaimed.

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