Electronic Point of Sale (ePOS) is efficient, forward thinking technology that enables payment for goods and services, as well as generating a whole host of useful data insights. It’s relatively new technology but represents an evolution of payment in retail and services. So, where did it come from and how did we get from bartering to here?
Late 1800s - The first tills
Tills (or cash registers) made their first appearance at the end of the 1800s and are the earliest ancestors of ePOS. They were developed primarily to combat the problem of dishonest employees helping themselves to takings, of which there was often no reliable record. The first tills would add up the sale, open the cash drawer and also ring a bell so that a manager was alerted that a sale had taken place and the cash drawer was being opened.
Late 1900s - The first networked tills
It wasn’t until the 1970s that the next step in ePOS progress was really made. Computer giant IBM created two systems in the early 1970s that could control up to 128 cash registers. These were bought by two big American department stores and were a landmark moment in making point of sale electronic. McDonalds was the first to benefit from a microprocessor controlled network of tills. In 1974 its servers had networked tills that showed the entire menu, with a button for each option, and which also calculated the total including sales tax for the server. This was also the same year in which barcode scanners were used for the first time, which would prove to be an essential component in later ePOS systems.
The 1980s – The arrival of touchscreen
Although not that widely used at the time, it was in the 1980s that the first touchscreen tills made an appearance. In 1986, ViewTouch was released across restaurants in American and Canada, with a customisable graphical interface and touchscreen functions.
The 1990s – The first ePOS systems
1992 was a landmark year for ePOS. It was in this year that a supermarket retailer from California decided to design ePOS to run on a Microsoft Windows platform, as existing options were not flexible enough for his needs. The first full ePOS solution was also sold in 1992 by Nisyst, which integrated head and back office functions. The 1990s saw great strides in computing generally and advantages, such as increased processing power, were also applied to make ePOS systems more efficient and effective. Standardisation of interfaces used by point of sale extras, such as printers and scanners, was embryonic but under way.
The 2000s – The advance of ePOS systems
In the Noughties, ePOS took to the cloud and suddenly could be more available and more efficient for a much wider range of businesses. Ease of installation, availability across multiple locations and the benefits of data collection all combined to make modern ePOS technology much more beneficial and of wider use.