A Point of Sale should have easy to use,
data driven reports. These reports should be able to report to you on
screen, printed printout or to a ASCII file for importing into other
software such as a spreadsheet. Reports should allow you to analyze any
and all data held with-in the Point of Sale system. Your POS should
allow you to enter parameters such as date ranges, time of day, category
types, etc. to filter your reports in any method you desire.
To the right is a sample of a report that is generated from
parameters entered by the end-user.
A good Point of Sale should have a parameters screen for most
reports. POS systems generate a large amount of data. The only way to
filter through all of this data is to filer it out with limits on the
amount of data shown to you in a report format.
Are you interested in creating or maintaining an inventory system in
a quick and efficient way? Purchase
barcode scanners and
Barcodes are an integral part of any POS system. Some Point of Sale
systems may print barcodes for you or you may have to purchase separate
software for the printing of barcodes. Many items come with barcodes on
A barcode (also bar code) is a machine-readable representation of
information in a visual format on a surface. Originally barcodes stored
data in the widths and spacing's of printed parallel lines, but today
they also come in patterns of dots, concentric circles, and hidden in
images. Barcodes can be read by optical scanners called barcode readers
or scanned from an image by special software. Barcodes are widely used
to implement Auto ID Data Capture (AIDC) systems that improve the speed
and accuracy of computer data entry.
While traditionally barcode encoding schemes represented only numbers,
newer symbologies add new characters such as the uppercase alphabet to
the complete ASCII character set and beyond. The drive to encode more
information in combination with the space requirements of simple
barcodes led to the development of matrix codes (a type of 2D barcode),
which do not consist of bars but rather a grid of square cells. Stacked
barcodes are a compromise between true 2D barcodes and linear codes, and
are formed by taking a traditional linear symbology and placing it in an
envelope that allows multiple rows.
Since their invention in the 20th century, barcodes -- especially the
UPC code -- have slowly become an essential part of modern civilization.
Their use is widespread, and the technology behind barcodes is
constantly improving. Some modern applications of barcodes include:
Practically every item purchased from a grocery store, department store,
and mass merchandiser has a barcode on it. This greatly helps in keeping
track of the large number of items in a store and also reduces instances
of shoplifting (since shoplifters could no longer easily switch price
tags from a lower-cost item to a higher-priced one). Since the adoption
of barcodes, both consumers and retailers have profited from the savings
Rental car companies keep track of their cars by means of barcodes on
the car bumper.
Airlines track passenger luggage with barcodes, reducing the chance of
Recently, researchers have placed tiny barcodes on individual bees to
track the insects' mating habits.
The movement of nuclear waste can be tracked easily with a bar-code
More recently, barcodes have even started appearing on humans. Fashion
designers stamp barcodes on their models to help coordinate fashion
shows. The codes store information about what outfits each model should
be wearing and when they are due on the runway. In the late 1990s
in Tokyo, there was a fad for temporary barcode shaped tattoos among
high school girls.
Bar codes have been used to produce portraits.
Technology of barcodes
A linear barcode is a binary code (1s and 0s). The lines and spaces are
of varying thicknesses and printed in different combinations. To be
scanned, there must be accurate printing and adequate contrast between
the bars and spaces. Scanners employ various technologies to "read"
codes. The two most common are lasers and cameras. Scanners may be fixed
position, like most supermarket checkout scanners, or hand-held devices,
often used for the taking of inventories.
Notwithstanding its inauspicious beginning, the barcode has become a
remarkable success, a workhorse in many and varied applications. One of
the first successful barcodes, Code 39 developed by Dr. David Allais, is
widely used in logistical and defense applications. Code 39 is still in
use today, although it is less sophisticated than some of the newer
barcodes. Code 128 and Interleaved 2 Million other codes that attained
some success in niche markets.
The Universal Product Code
The best-known and most widespread use of barcodes has been on consumer
products. The Universal Product Code, or U.P.C., is unique because it
was developed by the user community. Most technological innovations are
first invented and then a need is found for the invention. The U.P.C. is
a response to a business need first identified by the US grocery
industry in the early 1970s.
Believing that automating the grocery checkout process could reduce
labor costs, improve inventory control, speed up the process, and
improve customer service, six industry associations, representing both
product manufacturers and supermarkets, created an industry wide
committee of industry leaders. Their two-year effort resulted in the
announcement of the Universal Product Code and the U.P.C. barcode symbol
on April 1, 1973. The U.P.C. made its first commercial appearance on a
package of Wrigley's gum sold in Marsh's Supermarket in Troy, Ohio in
Economic studies conducted for the grocery industry committee projected
over $40 million in savings to the industry from scanning by the
mid-1970s. Those numbers were not achieved in that time frame and there
were those who predicted the demise of barcode scanning. The usefulness
of the barcode required the adoption of expensive scanners by a critical
mass of retailers while manufacturers simultaneously adopted barcode
labels. Neither wanted to move first and results looked unpromising for
the first couple of years, with Business Week eulogizing The Supermarket
Scanner That Failed.'
The mapping between messages and barcodes is called a symbology.
The specification of a symbology includes the encoding of the single
digits/characters of the message as well as the start and stop markers
into bars and space, the size of the quiet zone required to be before
and after the barcode as well as the computation of a checksum.
Linear symbologies can be classified mainly by two properties:
Continuous vs. discrete: Characters in continuous symbologies abut, with
one character ending with a space and the next beginning with a bar, or
vice versa. Characters in discrete symbologies begin and end with bars;
the intercharacter space is ignored, as long as it is not wide enough to
look like the code ends.
Two-width vs. many-width: Bars and spaces in two-width symbologies are
wide or narrow; how wide a wide bar is exactly has no significance as
long as the symbology requirements for wide bars are adhered to (usually
two to three times more wide than a narrow bar). Bars and spaces in
many-width symbologies are all multiples of a basic width called the
module; most such codes use four widths of 1, 2, 3 and 4 modules.
Stacked symbologies consist of a given linear symbology repeated
vertically in multiple.
There are a large variety of 2-D symbologies. The most common are matrix
codes, which feature square or dot-shaped modules arranged on a grid
pattern. 2-D symbologies also come in a variety of other visual formats.
Aside from circular patterns, there are several 2-D symbologies which
employ steganography by hiding an array of different-sized or -shaped
modules within a user-specified image (for example, DataGlyph).
Linear symbologies are optimized to be read by a laser scanner,
which sweeps a beam of light across the barcode in a straight line,
reading a slice of the barcode light-dark patterns.
Stacked symbologies are also optimized for laser scanning, with the
laser making multiple passes across the barcode.
2-D symbologies cannot be read by a laser as there is typically no sweep
pattern that can encompass the entire symbol. They must be scanned by a
camera capture device.
Scanners (barcode readers)
The earliest, and still the cheapest, barcode scanners are built
from a fixed light and a single photosensor that is manually "scrubbed"
across the barcode.
A later design, the "laser scanner," uses a polygonal mirror or
galvanometer-mounted mirror to scan a laser across the barcode --
initially only in a straight line, but eventually in complicated
patterns so the reader could read barcodes at any angle.
In the 1990s some barcode reader manufacturers began working with
digital cameras to capture barcodes, both linear and 2D. That technology
has since been perfected and now often surpasses laser scanners in
performance and reliability.
More recently, off-the-shelf digital cameras now have enough resolution
to capture both 1D and 2D barcodes. Increasingly companies are looking
to incorporate barcode scanning software into cameraphones. However, the
camera phone optics are not well suited for standard codes that were
designed for industrial dedicated scanners. As a result, new codes are
being designed for mobile use such as color code and mCode.
Benefits of using barcodes
In point-of-sale management, the use of barcodes can provide very
detailed up-to-date information on key aspects of the business, enabling
decisions to be made much quicker and with more confidence. For example:
Fast-selling items can be identified quickly and automatically reordered
to meet consumer demand,
Slow-selling items can be identified, preventing a build-up of unwanted
The effects of repositioning a given product within a store can be
monitored, allowing fast-moving more profitable items to occupy the best
Historical data can be used to predict seasonal fluctuations very
Bar code scanners are also relatively low costing and extremely accurate
– only about 1/100000 entries will be wrong.