Point of Sale
POS is by far the most common use for bar coding and one of the oldest. Bar code systems have now been installed throughout retailing, from small gift shops to the largest discount chains. Even small stores find that bar coding is practical because it speeds up checkout, tracks stock, and assures pricing accuracy. With the advent of wedge decoders, bar coding can now be applied to most host systems and terminals at a relatively low cost.
Some stores place fixed mount scanners on the counter tops, while others find it more practical to use hand held scanners to read bar codes such as the UPC code in the supermarket industry. If most purchases consist of several items that are purchased on a single order, such as in a grocery store, then an in-counter scanner might be more appropriate. In either case, the scanner is directly connected to a PC or cash register.
The terminal or register is directly connected to a network or indirectly connected to a central database using a store controller. The central database is usually maintained on-line so the inventory levels can be adjusted automatically. The POS system itself should minimally support various payment methods (cash, credit card, etc.), perform price look ups, calculate tax and tabulate total sales. A receipt printer must be used to print the sales ticket. Thermal, dot matrix or sprocket printers are available.
If labels need to be created in-house, the retailer has many options to choose from. The label can practically be any material including paper, vinyl, polypropylene, or polyester. These are the most common facestocks available (for additional information, see the Ribbons and Labels section). Paper is the most common facestock and the least expensive. If the label must be smudge or smear resistant and/or hundreds or thousands of labels will be created daily, it is probably best to use a thermal transfer or direct thermal printer. Otherwise, a common office dot matrix or laser printer might be sufficient to produce labels. Many retailers use hang tags or self adhesive labels or even a combination of these two types of labels in store. If necessary, labels can also be printed off-site.