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Can You Access Your Own Cash Register Data?

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the don't-bogart-them-totals dept.

Hardware Hacking 178

jeronimo989 writes "A customer of mine has a small shop and asked me to look for an electronic cash register. One of the requirements is to retrieve the sales data from the cash register in some accessible format so he can import it in the software of his choice (which happens to be OpenOffice), either by downloading the data on a Flash card, connecting a laptop via USB, or even via a direct modem connection. As far as the cash register itself is concerned, he doesn't need anything too fancy; any 'entry level' machine for small businesses is probably OK (as long as it keeps an electronic journal, of course). Which options do we have? Are there cash register manufacturers out there that allow accessing the sales data directly in an open format? Does anyone here have experience with setting up a link between a cash register and PC, preferably using free/open source solutions?"

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Lame (-1)

it0 (567968) | more than 6 years ago | (#23060870)

Just google for it?

http://www.google.com/search?q=pos+linux [google.com]

First hit seems nice

http://www.bananahead.com/pos/home.html [bananahead.com]

You know it doesn't hurt to do some research.

Re:Lame (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23060894)

Did you even look at the page you're hawking? The features tab has only a place holder, the forum tab is utterly blank, and the manual is V 0.1.0, last updated 2004.

Re:Lame (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061228)

"last updated 2004"

So your saying the term "functionally stable" is a bad thing?

Re:Lame (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23061352)

It is when the "b" is a typo.

Re:Lame (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23060896)

I for one (not native English) didn't know the term POS [wikipedia.org] .


Now that you pointed jeronimo989 in the right direction, all other replies seem futile

Re:Lame (3, Funny)

ATMD (986401) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061108)

And I (native to England) would half expect to see a lot of Microsoft-funded pages when Googling for "linux pos".

Re:Lame (1)

Atti K. (1169503) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061162)

I for one (not native English either) did know the term POS [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Lame (1)

lukas84 (912874) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061862)

Here in Switzerland, the term POS is standard for cash registers.

So it doesn't seem specific to the US market or the UK market - but i wouldn't have assumed that everyone knew it either.

Re:Lame (3, Insightful)

The Ancients (626689) | more than 6 years ago | (#23060908)

You know it doesn't hurt to do some research.

This IS slashdot. It doesn't hurt to RTFA either (when they're there) but there's still a large number of readers here that don't want to risk it .

But yes - a simple google search did turn up a number of solutions. My guess is that the submitter wants to short circuit the process of working his/her way through them, and tap into the collective knowledge of /.ers.

Re:Lame (0, Offtopic)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 6 years ago | (#23060962)

This IS slashdot. It doesn't hurt to RTFA either (when they're there) but there's still a large number of readers here that don't want to risk it .


LOL. Just what it is the risk again?

My guess is that the submitter wants to short circuit the process of working his/her way through them, and tap into the collective knowledge of /.ers

Exactly. This is ./ but it also like a tech forum too. The signal to noise ratio might be a little different, but there are some pretty informative posts from time to time.

Re:Lame (0, Offtopic)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061238)

LOL. Just what it is the risk again [of following an article link]?
Tracking cookies. Pop-ups. SWF advertisements. A single article strewn across a dozen ad-laden pages. Or even drive-by downloads of malware. Not to mention losing track of time while reading things on the site with the article, so that you don't have a chance to make Slashdot comments early enough for them to get moderated up.

Re:Lame (1)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062138)

But yes - a simple google search did turn up a number of solutions. My guess is that the submitter wants to short circuit the process of working his/her way through them, and tap into the collective knowledge of /.ers.
And that's exactly the point. /. is a community. Why not take advantage of the community to make a purchasing decision?

Lame-we can do worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23060966)

"You know it doesn't hurt to do some research."

Well that would certainly explain all of the consistent slashposts on law, economics, Microsoft, politics, and women. We're gluttons for punishment.

Re:Lame (2, Funny)

wfWebber (715881) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061004)

Well, the software you found is a real POS alright. Seems Google still does an intelligent search match :)

Re:Lame (0, Redundant)

pbhj (607776) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061034)

He didn't ask for a new POS though ... oh wait this is the internet and we have to ignore the question and just try and sound intelligent.

How am I doing?

If he'd said which cash register they have and what budget that might have helped, but I guess that those questions don't get in because they aren't controversial or open-ended enough to spin enough page-views / ad-dollars.

Cynical? Maybe a touch.

Re:Lame (5, Informative)

xtracto (837672) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061070)

Everytime someone posts some question on slashdot there is inevitably some idiot who will answer to "goolge it" or "source forge it" or whatever similar.

I am sure the original poster did know about goolge and maybe he even did look in there before posting here but the idea of asking in slashdot is to see what the opinions of other people with *knowledge* (supposedly) are. For me as a slashdot reader is quite interesting, because the discussion usually brings several alternatives and answers which are up to date (instead of web pages that someties are outdated) and even some comments which are worthy.

Plenty of times I have recurred to an ask slashdot that I had seen before to look at what people *in the know* are using, instead of just looking at the advertisements thrown by each of the avaialble products (either Free or non Free).

So if the only advise you are going to give is to "google it", just shut up and go to troll to the next slashdot story. You are only polluting an otherwise interesting conversation.

Re:Lame (0, Redundant)

Proud_to_be_Pinoy (826330) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061206)

well said!

Re:Lame (2, Funny)

Bastard of Subhumani (827601) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061410)

Everytime someone posts some question on slashdot there is inevitably some idiot who will answer to "goolge it"
Indeed, anyone who can't spell 'google' is a total fucking imbecile.

Re:Lame (1)

English French Man (1220122) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061634)

Or you could have tried http://www.goolge.com/ [goolge.com] and see for yourself that this typo is completely irrelevant.

Re:Lame (2, Funny)

SlashWombat (1227578) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061428)

TLA's are just a PITA!

It really doesn't work this way... (5, Informative)

mridoni (228377) | more than 6 years ago | (#23060904)

... modern cash registers simply output on a serial or USB port all the transaction data entered, and receive informations on goods for PLUs (Price Look-Ups): when a barcode on a product is scanned, the cash register "asks" to a server the corresponding price and description to be printed on your receipt, etc. Most cash registers are actually (at least here in Italy, and in a reasonably sized shop) just a specialized keyboard/screen/cash drawer connected to a PC, which in turn sits on a network: it's all part of a turn-key system, maintenance included. It's not like you go and read the data *from* the cash register: while you can query it for some daily report, you usually just store the data on a server and use some custom app or a DB frontend to read it.

Re:It really doesn't work this way... (0, Flamebait)

pipatron (966506) | more than 6 years ago | (#23060916)

Yes, thank you, know we know how it works in your big store where you have more than one cash register. Now back up and read what he wanted.

Re:It really doesn't work this way... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23061058)

Cut him some slack, he's only a dago.

Re:It really doesn't work this way... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23061068)

Sure a big store uses a network and for a small company that isn't needed but the point that most POS kit these days are just a PC with some specialised input devices is still a valid one.

This means the obvious solution is to find some POS hardware and software, bolt it to a standard PC and you'll have no problem exporting the data because it will be on a standard PC system. So the question is now what is the best OS/software/hardware combo for a build your own POS system.

Re:It really doesn't work this way... (0)

mridoni (228377) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061098)

The real problem is that there is no small-size or really hackish solution for this kind of requirements: you need a PC semi-permanently connected to your cash register, a programming manual - this stuff uses proprietary protocols - and from there on it just depends on what you want to do: but you DO need something to log the transactions and parse/query your data (which might well be a Perl script or something somebody else slapped together). Daily reports *on the cash register* are only available on high-end models anyway, which you probably don't have in a very small shop, so your distinction between small and big shops is moot.

Put it on the Internet (4, Funny)

PartPricer (975066) | more than 6 years ago | (#23060906)

Please tell him to make it accessible via the Internet and to not encrypt his credit card data. It would make life so much easier for my Russian friends.

Ever heard of PCI-DSS [pcisecuritystandards.org] ?

A suggestion (1, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#23060914)

If you are looking for all this, it would be nice to have register where the customer can plug in a USB drive and then have the register load the "receipt" on it. I am always amazed that none of the stores have this. I know that it would be useful to buy food from King Soopers and then take the info home and plug it into various applications including a kitchen app and a budget app.

Re:A suggestion (0, Offtopic)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 6 years ago | (#23060992)

Are you FUCKING NUTS!?

All it takes is one sociopathic asshole, or even one unwitting accomplice to install a trojan/malware/virus/worm into the cash register.

I know some people are thinking, "wow. they might be able to steal money by funneling it somewhere". I'm thinking, "If that asshole stops me from being able to buy my Chunky Monkey, I'm going postal up in this *$#*&$#%".

Re:A suggestion (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23061176)

hmmm. So you think that plugging in USB card in a system that OWNS the driver, that it will cross-infect the register? ha ha ha Start using Linux or something that is secure. You window nuts ARE sociopaths.

Re:A suggestion (3, Insightful)

Kijori (897770) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061278)

hmmm. So you think that plugging in USB card in a system that OWNS the driver, that it will cross-infect the register? ha ha ha Start using Linux or something that is secure. You window nuts ARE sociopaths.
An excellent point, since Linux can never have any vulnerabilites [securityfocus.com] or bugs [securityfocus.com] ever.

Security requires more than just choosing the more secure operating system, you have to protect your system - for example by not letting strangers plug in devices.

Re:A suggestion (2, Insightful)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061320)

LOL. I was just going for a +5 Funny mod.

I did not mean to start a flame war with an AC over Linux/Microsoft. "Securing the system" would preclude any activities like this. I can see a targeted attack by individuals to first infect a cash register, and then later on grab lists of credit card numbers, pin codes, etc. and transfer them to USB sticks covertly. It would not even matter if these covert files were placed on innocent customers sticks. All it would take is for one of the attackers to grab it at some point.

That is the thing about a targeted attack. It does not matter if the target is Linux or Microsoft. That is just the details. Your right that anyone would be naive to think that an operating system choice ALONE provides you security.

Re:A suggestion (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061008)

Think about it from the point of view of the guys supporting such a setup. Think about the kinds of problem customers who would get involved and the people you have working the floor. Can you still guarantee security?

An alternative I could see working is for them to email a copy of the receipt, but it would probably only work if you had one of their loyalty cards or whatever. (I'm just as happy giving a random shop my email as I would be having random USB devices plugged into my financial systems.)

Re:A suggestion (0, Flamebait)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061196)

fairly trivial to make secure. At the register, Only allow the usb plug to be treated as a drive and more important, do not allow anything to moved from the plug to the register. Then when receipt is written, it is written as simple text file (perhaps XML with no binary data allowed) that receiver should have checked over by a program on their home system. A simple program can check these and then read them in.

Re:A suggestion (2, Informative)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061308)

> fairly trivial to make secure. ... do not allow anything to moved from the plug to the register

All I can say is, I hope you don't work in the computer security field.

How is the driver going to access the USB drive without transferring data from the plug? You do realize that the driver is going to need to read a lot of data about the state of the filesystem, right? System drivers, especially third-party ones, are well known to be weak points in the security of a lot of systems.

E.g., A Linux kernel vulnerability somewhat connected to this discussion [securityfocus.com] .

Re:A suggestion (4, Informative)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061340)

Now that I think about it, maybe that link isn't as connected as I thought... :(

I was looking more for something like this [secunia.com] .

Too bad I can't make that post disappear by moderating the thread. :)

Re:A suggestion (2, Insightful)

God'sDuck (837829) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061324)

Why does it need to be super secure? Credit card transactions are done using a separate "turnkey" machine. A small-store register receipt is nothing but a list of items with no name attached. If someone p0wned your machine the worst they could do that takes hacking knowledge (breaking the machine can be done with a hammer) is change some item to ring up at the wrong value -- or learn that people who by baby wipes also buy baby diapers. Whoopty do. So a basic firewall on an updated OS should be plenty.

Re:A suggestion (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061702)

Well, the fear is that the cash register Driver is not secured. But the USB-HDD does not have to be complicated and can be written secured for special cases like this. In this particular case, it can be secured, because if one item is out of whack, you simply deny it. Th reason why other drivers are insecure is because of the under lying thought that we have to try every thing. Instead, if we limit what we are willing to take in, it becomes much easier to write this securely). But with that said, I do like the idea of a separate device to handle this and perhaps the printer.

Re:A suggestion (1)

Kijori (897770) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061268)

If you are looking for all this, it would be nice to have register where the customer can plug in a USB drive and then have the register load the "receipt" on it. I am always amazed that none of the stores have this. I know that it would be useful to buy food from King Soopers and then take the info home and plug it into various applications including a kitchen app and a budget app.
I'm not convinced. Sounds like it'll take longer, create problems when USB devices don't work, create problems when someone's stick uses a different file system, open a new vector for attack, increase maintenance costs and have no real advantage over an easy, secure paper receipt which most people will choose anyway. If you want to put your food into a budget/kitchen app you already can - you have the receipt and, failing that, the food itself.

Re:A suggestion (1)

radagenais (1261374) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061460)

That is really silly. Nobody in their right mind is going to want to be having customers plugging USB drives into their POS.

BUT, if you want the data.... it would be fairly trivial to have the receipt emailed to you as part of the transaction. Reasonable opt-in feature...

"Honey, get of the computer and come help me cook!"

Quickbooks Terminal (4, Interesting)

Taelron (1046946) | more than 6 years ago | (#23060926)

For a couple of hundred bucks he can get a Quickbooks terminal running on embeded Xp. Then all he has to do is export the quickbooks data or just access the pc for the info. The terminals are fully functional PC's, Registers, and loaded with Quickbooks.

http://shop2.outpost.com/%7Byf7-gwJCCQm5GvlczRQ4zQ**.node3%7D/product/5380498;jsessionid=yf7-gwJCCQm5GvlczRQ4zQ**.node3?site=sr:SEARCH:MAIN_RSLT_PG [outpost.com]
QUICKBOOKS 2008 POS BASIC W/HARDWARE

INTUIT:
For Windows
FRYS.com #: 5380498
QuickBooks Point of Sale Basic is a complete retail management solution that tracks inventory, sales and customer information to help you save time and serve your customers better. Includes easy-to-use software and retail hardware including a bar code scanner, cash drawer, receipt printer and credit card swipe* guaranteed to work together.**

Re:Quickbooks Terminal (4, Informative)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#23060970)

ever used quickbooks? no? that's why you think it's a good idea.

Re:Quickbooks Terminal (4, Insightful)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061064)

Since when has $1,300 been a couple of hundred?

Re:Quickbooks Terminal (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23061318)

Since before the US completly fucked their dollar. I think they're in competition with Zimbabwe.

Re:Quickbooks Terminal (1)

melstav (174456) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061746)

I want to know what you do for a living that $1300 is "a couple of hundred bucks".

"a couple" is generally accepted to be some number approximating two.

Why get complicated? (0)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#23060934)

Why won't using a PC directly work?

Re:Why get complicated? (1)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 6 years ago | (#23060982)

Because software costs more than a bog-standard cash register.

Re:Why get complicated? (1)

pegdhcp (1158827) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061214)

Because depending on the jurisdiction, the cash register must be a hardware that is certified to be a cash register, even if it was a PC in another lifetime... In answer to FA poster; In my time as a software developer -when steam powered computers was just phasing out-, most register producers was willing to provide you with an API and some decent documentation about their data format. Try IBM, for example...

Check out Circuit City (2, Interesting)

londonit (1193627) | more than 6 years ago | (#23060940)

I worked in a rollout project with Circuit City whenthey replaced some of their POS systems. The new boxes were some IBM POS solutions with linux on them - I dont know from the top of my head but they seemd out of the box solutions - They pulled OS and all from BOOTP server, but I suppose you could get them preinstalled and all. Maybe IBM has more suggestions.

Re:Check out Circuit City (0, Redundant)

doctor_nation (924358) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061422)

Note that POS in this context means "Point of Sale", not "Piece of Sh*t".

Re:Check out Circuit City (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23061584)

The same thing at Krogers. All the IBM registers have a network boot. While I can appreciate the ability to manipulate data, they were never truly stable, and crashed weekly.

Checkout (POS) for mac (5, Informative)

kalleh (678159) | more than 6 years ago | (#23060960)

http://www.checkoutapp.com/ [checkoutapp.com]

FYI (4, Funny)

WK2 (1072560) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061010)

Just so everyone knows:

POS = Point of Sale
POS = Piece of Shit

For the most part, the POS's in this thread are the first choice.

Re:FYI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23061060)

OMG PONIES! Pimp Our Slashdot!

Re:FYI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23061466)

Ponies On Slashdot

Re:FYI (4, Funny)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061130)

Just so everyone knows:

POS = Point of Sale
POS = Piece of Shit

For the most part, the POS's in this thread are the first choice.
The actual posts in this thread, on the other hand....

Re:FYI (1)

dattaway (3088) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061218)

I thought it was management that referred to the *employee* operating the unit as a POS.

Re:FYI (5, Funny)

87C751 (205250) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061262)

POS = Point of Sale
POS = Piece of Shit

For the most part, the POS's in this thread are the first choice.
Not after that second assignment.

Re:FYI (1)

quonsar (61695) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061502)

point of sale is where you pay for the piece of shit.

It works for both (2, Insightful)

DragonHawk (21256) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061554)

For the most part, the POS's in this thread are the first choice.
Actually, in my experience as an IT consultant and admin, most POS systems are also a POS.

Like a lot of vertical markets, this one seems to be infested with companies producing poorly engineered products with no mind for security, usability, interoperability, or ease of IT management. They're usually highly proprietary and overpriced, to boot.

Re:It works for both (2, Informative)

AaronLawrence (600990) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061738)

It's true. Basically it's a niche, and driven more by accounting and marketing than practicality and security. No vendor can afford to meet all the requirements including security, a nice easy user interface, rigorous testing, all the promotions ideas marketing can think of, the interface-du-jour to head office systems etc. So everybody just makes do with (barely) adequate systems.

I should know, I work on one ;)

Also, even now there are benefits to using hardware designed for the job rather than PC model #9276. It will generally last a lot longer and be more fit to the purpose (cashiers banging on keys at high speed). The flexibility of PCs is somewhat irrelevant day-to-day, indeed you don't want people installing Office and SolitairePlus2000 (now with extra malware).

Re:FYI (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061582)

POS = Point of Sale
POS = Piece of Shit

And remember, when you are supporting the software that runs the former, don't accidentally say the latter instead. And don't agree with your customers when they intentionally say the latter instead of the former!

Easy Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23061044)

Unless you require something a little more fancy, one of the easiest solutions is to just hook a cash-drawer and receipt printer to a standard computer and use an off-the-shelf cashiering software from somewhere to tie the parts together.

The product that we use is part of a larger ERP, and so is not suitable to you needs, but it works this way and we have had no major issues for years.

Cash Register vs. computer (1)

neurosine (549673) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061088)

It's not difficult to find POS software that will turn even a very old workstation into a cash register. Quite often for free. Once you're there, backing up, analyzing, and sharing the data becomes very easy. Most entry level cash registers don't keep a record of transactions. They leave that to other entities. If you register has an RS-232 (9 or 25 pin serial port) or other IO port, you can probably give out the model number and find more bickering, though eventually usually help here.

Maybe Stoq? (4, Informative)

GauteL (29207) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061090)

I haven't tried it, since I'm not in the retail business, but Stoq [stoq.com.br] is an open source Point of Sale system supported by a brazilian company called Async [async.com.br] .

It is GTK based and uses PostgreSQL for database storage (so extracting data should be a breeze). It also comes with a LiveCD so you can try it out yourself.

Re:Maybe Stoq? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23061472)

Mod this up, this product looks great!

Re:Maybe Stoq? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23061772)

Mod this down. Async is a competitor of mine.

Sharp (5, Informative)

N3Roaster (888781) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061122)

I see a lot of comments already jumping on fancy POS systems, but if a basic cash register is really all that is needed, get to your local office store and take a look at what's there. A basic Sharp cash register (and probably registers from other makers as well) will store this data on a SD card or allow a USB connection to a computer. The software they (Sharp, don't know about others) provide is crap, but the data you get back is CSV which can be imported into any spreadsheet program. It's basic, but if that's all you need it does the trick.

Re:Sharp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23061362)

Seriously, it didn't take long at all to find a few solutions that will work. It's almost as if the poster is too lazy to even do a few minutes research on his own. I'm sure he'll do an amazing job getting this set up for his client!

Re:Sharp (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23061796)

The Sharp XE-A505 Electronic Cash Register is apparently what he's talking about. Runs about $320 - less than an embedded Quickbooks box or a dedicated PC of any sort, after factoring in the display (unless you have boxen to burn).
http://www.amazon.com/Sharp-XE-A505-Electronic-Cash-Register/dp/B000I974O8

DataSym (4, Interesting)

shyster (245228) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061138)

Since nobody else seems to understand the difference between an electronic cash register and a PC based point of sale system - I'll throw in what little I know of ECRs.

DataSym makes a software product called Comm2000 that communicates with their ECRs. It can poll nightly to retrieve sales information, or you can have the register output the data on each sale. You can also maintain SKU lists, etc.

We have a few DataSym and older Sharp registers on the network (with a serial-TCP/IP device server), and the sales are captured in real time without going through Comm2000. Formats are a little obtuse, but reverse engineerable without documentation if you needed to.

Nightly, there's a fairly old version of Comm2000 that sends out SKU lists, register layouts, etc. The processing is held together with shell scripts and some custom C code, but I think Comm2000 is the standard EXE. This is all on a UNIX box, designed circa 1993, so YMMV.

Fortunately for me, but unfortunate for you, I have very little to do with the ECR side of things. But, I'd imagine most ECRs these days offer something similar, and I see DataSym still has Comm2000 [datasym.com] . Since ECRs don't really seem to be in the /. sweet spot, I'd suggest giving your local distributor a call.

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Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23061154)

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Why use a register in the first place? (1)

j35ter (895427) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061184)

IMHO a POS system has a superior flexibility for small shops; especially if the developer is willing to alter the software to fit specific needs.

Been selling these little buggers for way under 1k$ and most complaints have been met with some coding, which helped me keep the whole matter modularized.

POS - register (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23061190)

I think you're confusing POS software with the cash register. The cash register by itself has no way of knowing what it sells (save perhaps the totals for the end-of-day procedure). What you need is software linked to a cash register. You can then track inventory, customers, sales agents, connect it to a server blah blah blah... all depending on how much you want to spend.
As mentioned in some posts above, there are packaged systems with all h/ware and sw bundled, or you could buy them separately if you feel you're up to setting it all up. From memory you'll need the cash draw connected to the printer, the printer to the PC, the PC to the card-swiper and a net or phone line to the bank. Also you'll need to make sure the bank card software can talk to the
POS application and vice versa.
  This is assuming you are talking about a fairly organised store with a biggish inventory. Sounds a bit complicated for one terminal, but he'll then be able to extract meaningful data from the system to use more or less "as is" with his accounting processes (bank rec, end of months, statements invoicing etc..). He'll also need to input all his inventory (including barcodes and such if he's going to use them).
It sounds more complicated than it is, but in my opinion you shouldn't buy the cheapest piece of crap that you find. Find out what he needs (including what data he's after), and get a system which most suits his particular needs/business processes. It's better to spend more on the system now, and know it will serve him well for many years (i've seen POS systems on unix boxes that are 15+ years old and still running :) ) rather than the cheapest shit out there....

been their done that (1)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061198)

A few year ago I had to write an application that linked up sales data to data from beer line flow monitors, all of the registers we had to operate with could provide sales information. Most often it was from a database that the till connected to, but sometimes it was directly from the till itself. To get good data (or any data) we usually had to contact the till manufacturers and ask them for details of how to access the data etc... they usually provided us with documentation we could work to, or sometimes there was some consultancy time where they showed us what to do as they didn't have any documentation.

I say contact a few till manufacturers and see what they can provide and what the costs are going to be.

Do not use PC based registers (3, Insightful)

OzTech (524154) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061200)

If you use any x86 based registers with a custom (or shelf) application which "mimics" a real cash-register, you will immediately be caught in vendor lock-in.

My suggestion is to look at what is available from real cash-register manufacturers. Most if not all of these vendors will have a serial (or other) interface which will upload/download data using standard ASCII, comma-delimited files.

This should reduce your task to a simple import/export routine with perhaps a little data massaging to get it into/out-of whatever back end system you want to use/develop.

I successfully used Sharp cash registers for this over 15 years ago. All of the PLU (Price-Look-Up) codes and pricing (stock levels, re-order etc) was stored on a DEC-VAX, basic reporting data was stored on a PC based SQL and generated using Crystal, Access or whatever. A single PC application spoke to the VAX every night, then contacted every register, downloaded sales data and uploaded new/changed PLU data, then massaged the data from the registers and sent it back to the VAX and also dumped what stuff into the SQL database.

With ASCII PLU/pricing/sales data coming from the registers it was a snack and allowed the company to move from a mini-computer architecture to a PC/LAN/SQL environment seamlessly. I'd be surprised if the current offerings from register manufacturers was much different today than it was back then as there really is no reason for it to be any different.

Open database (2, Interesting)

Tumbarumba (74816) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061248)

I had the same problem a few months ago. I really wanted an open POS system for the children's shoe shop [lillifoot.co.uk] my wife opened last year. We wanted a better system of managing inventory than the manual spreadsheet we were using.

I wasn't really that happy with any of the open source solutions I looked at (mainly LanePos and BananaPOS), mainly because I don't really have time to maintain these systems myself, and I wasn't convinced the support operations would work for us. We eventually did find a commercial provider based upon a recommendation from a friend with a small shop nearby. One of the things I really liked about this system was the fact that the vendor was completely happy for me to be able to access the database used by the POS software without any restrictions. I wasn't that happy with a number aspects of the system, but being able to access my own data was critical for me.

Re:Open database (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062136)

could you post the one software you are talking about and using,
not leaving anything to the imagination...

for a few hundred quid (3, Informative)

greebowarrior (961561) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061306)

he could get a cheap mac off ebay, or a mac mini, and use Checkout [checkoutapp.com]

A PC does it all (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23061400)

There are enough pc-based solutions. You can buy cash drawers that open on a COM port signal, you can buy slip printers (Epson) if you don't want a full-size invoice, you can buy extra customer displays that connect to a serial or parallel port or to the slip printer, there are barcode scanners for USB or keyboard wedge. Everything else is software then.

For the hardware look at http://pos.epson.com/products/.

The Answer to your question is: (1)

derrickh (157646) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061406)

The Sharp XE-A203

D

Try this one (3, Informative)

mopwr (512795) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061418)

Give this one a try.

http://www.openbravo.com/product/pos/ [openbravo.com]

Its simple and has export options.

I've used it since it was tinaPOS and it has worked good for me.

Worst title ever (2, Insightful)

noidentity (188756) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061420)

This is an awful article title. "Can You Access Your Own Cash Register Data?" First I read that as some silly desire to be able to access your own data in all the stores you visit, out of some sense of entitlement. Then I read the summary, and see that's not the case. In that context, it could be read as asking store owners if they can access their cash register data, a yes/no question. But no, that's not what's about either; it's someone seeking a recommendation for a freaking cash register, as if this is Yahoo Answers or something...

Horse first, cart second.... (3, Interesting)

Ollabelle (980205) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061436)

This is not a case of hardware hacking, folks.

These electronic cash registers are designed to have their collected data extracted from them in some fashion, so the logical place to start is the cash register vendors themselves to find out how it can be retrieved and the software systems that can use it. Something integrated with the accounting system/bank reconciliation would be nice. If it's a hard process, then that's likely the machine to avoid.

The second question, in fact should probably be the first, is to decide exactly what kind of data is to be collected: bar-code data, department codes, and the number of different sales taxes applicable to the site. These kind of questions will dictate the complexity of the machine to be purchased. All cash registers will do the normal daily control functions, running and daily totals. What you're looking for a machine that will deliver higher-level data to support the management of the business, so you need to start with those management objectives, then see how the extraction process fits into the accounting system, and only then decide on a machine to support those systems.

PC settup (1)

Jarik C-Bol (894741) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061462)

a huge number of people around here have gone to PC's for there registers. apparently, you can get barcode scanners, receipt printers, and card swipe whatsits, all for the PC. true, this is not the cheapest route, but it does solve the problem of converting data or even being able to access the data in the first place. 'course, a few stores around here where still using a archaic inventory software written by a local madman in DOS a few thousand years ago, so they had a lot of trouble with some networked inventory management, but from what i've seen, most of these have finally replaced said software. (mind you, these are small business owners, not chains, so there is no corporate backing to buy this equipment). I would say look into PC point of sale systems, and see where that takes you.

Open POS (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23061494)

From Wikipedia:
Vendors and retailers are working to standardize development of computerized POS systems and simplify interconnecting POS devices. Two such initiatives are OPOS and JavaPOS, both of which conform to the UnifiedPOS standard led by The National Retail Foundation.>

You have two choices; however, I think the Open POS solution might be a better option since it is cross platform.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Point_of_sale [wikipedia.org]

Re:Open POS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23061560)

I am the original AC poster on this thread:

From Wikipedia:
Vendors and retailers are working to standardize development of computerized POS systems and simplify interconnecting POS devices. Two such initiatives are OPOS and JavaPOS, both of which conform to the UnifiedPOS standard led by The National Retail Foundation.>

You have two choices; however, I think the Open POS solution might be a better option since it is cross platform.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Point_of_sale [wikipedia.org]


Three Open Source POS'; links to these projects can be found on sourceforge.
TinaPOS/Openbravo.
L'ânePOS
LemonPOS

Re:Open POS (1)

AaronLawrence (600990) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061784)

These standards are mostly about POS peripherals. Useful, but hardly a working solution.

Are you kidding? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23061520)

Where do people get the idea that slashdot is some sort of help forum? This site is for news, not for handouts.

What is cash? (1)

Big Smirk (692056) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061564)

Is that another name for VISA? or MasterCard?

http://www.linuxcanada.com/ (1)

chris_sawtell (10326) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061586)

It's Here [linuxcanada.com]

A Software Solution Is Available. (2, Informative)

AndGodSed (968378) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061654)

Disclaimer - I do not work for this company, but I have used this software package(s) extensively.

Softline Pastel.

It is an accounting software, so he will be able to do accounting of everything that has gone through the books, includes a payroll package, tax package and among even more other things: support for P.O.S (Point Of Sale)

What Pastel allows you to do wit P.O.S is:

Every Transaction gets recorded real time.
Operates P.O.S drawer.
Your Accountant can access what sales are in your P.O.S remotely (via lan, or with an add on via web - IIRC on that last one)
Supports "cash up" end of day to a removable drive.

It runs on Windows unfortunately - if you are inclined to run other OS's. Has a server module and can run the server/client on the same machine - ideal for small business.

www.pastel.co.za

Apologies for the spammy post everybody - like I said I am not employed by them, but it is a good piece of software with support for international currencies/tax etc.

YUO FAIL IT.. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23061712)

If *BSD is to 3learly. There or chair, return

Royal 600sc (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23061808)

Royal 600SC is a good simple choice.

Can You Access Your Own Cash Register Data? (1)

eltonito (910528) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061826)

Yes I can, thanks for asking!

What, you want more than that? Nevermind then, I use an abacus and carve my sales figures into stone tablets at the end of the day.

We use Retalix Storeline at my work. (1)

y86 (111726) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061894)

It uses a SQL SB to store sales. Really any POS solution that uses a SQL capable DB allows for easy extraction of data.

Using the mouse ? (1)

Daas (620469) | more than 6 years ago | (#23061968)

Could anybody tell me why most modern PC or MAC POS uses the mouse as an input method ? It's probably the worst way of doing things...

Ever seen someone use a mouse at any big company ??? There is a reason for that...

Go SaaS (1)

tafknab (1272788) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062108)

My advice would be to go as a Service. Cheap and convenient. most Saas providers will give you access to your data in downloadable formats. For example paygo: http://www.christianjames.net/ [christianjames.net]

Roll Your Own with Perl/TK (1)

Dr. Zowie (109983) | more than 6 years ago | (#23062114)

There are a squillion register-like accessories on the market, from USB-controlled cash drawers and receipt printers to price scanners that operate like keyboard devices and even little scrolling LED signs to show off the purchase. It is the work of less than a man-month to put together a simple register application that dumps its output to a file.

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