What Is a Touch Screen Cash Register? And How To Use One

Illustration of someone using a touch-screen cash terminal, from their own point-of-view.

Whether you’re new to retail and have never used a cash register before, or have been ringing up sales since you were in high school, transitioning from a traditional cash register to a touch screen cash register can seem complicated.

But it’s worth the learning curve. If you take the time now to understand what a touch screen cash register is and how it works in tandem with point-of-sale (POS) software, you’ll be ready in no time to speed up the checkout process at your retail store, streamline inventory management, and get insights into sales and the overall performance of your retail business. 

In this guide, you’ll learn what a touch screen cash register is, how it differs from a point-of-sale system, how to use a touch screen cash register, the benefits for your retail business, and more. 

Let’s get started.

What is a touch screen cash register? 

A touch screen cash register is a device, like an iPad, that has a touch screen and easily connects to your cash register POS system. Unlike a mechanical cash register that doesn’t have any functionalities aside from adding up purchase amounts and calculating change, touch screen cash registers involve software and hardware and come with many features, including accepting more payment methods, but also synchronizing omnichannel inventory, creating customer profiles, setting up order fulfillment options like buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS), and more.

You can connect a touch screen device with your POS terminal or card reader, bar code scanner, cash drawer, and receipt printer to streamline in-store payment processing. You can also make your checkout more sustainable by emailing receipts instead of printing them, something you can’t do with a traditional cash register.

And a cash drawer, receipt printer, and bar code scanner aren’t mandatory when you use a touch screen cash register. So if your business is mobile or if you have portable checkout stations throughout your retail store, a touch screen cash register is a great option. All you really need is an iPad, a POS app, and a card reader.

A customer paying at a cash register by tapping their phone.

Touch screen cash register vs. point-of-sale system

Point-of-sale systems have two parts: hardware (like a touch screen device, cash drawer, barcode scanner, etc.) and software (the technology that connects everything). A touch screen cash register is one hardware type that is powered by POS software. So when you combine the touch screen device with the POS software and sometimes other POS hardware (depending on your needs), it’s considered a POS system.

The touch screen cash register, like an iPad or an iPhone, is the physical part that you can touch and use to complete payments and enter information. The POS system is like the operating system (iOS) that makes the Apple device work. 

Touch screen cash registers need POS software to run. And without the touch screen device you wouldn’t be able to collect payments or use the other functionalities that the POS software offers. You need them both.

How to use a touch screen cash register

You have your iPad, retail stand, and card reader, now it’s time to get your touch screen cash register up and running.

Set up

Most POS software runs on a subscription. Choose the option that’s best for your business right now, while keeping in mind that the ability to upgrade as your business grows will make things easier in the future.

Once you’ve downloaded the POS app onto your touch screen device, you can change and update the point-of-sale app settings. With Shopify POS, you can also install embedded apps to add features like buy one, get one free (BOGO), loyalty programs, wholesale pricing, and more to customize your in-store checkout.

The last part of the initial setup process is adding payment methods. With Shopify Payments, you can activate cash payments, cards, mobile wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay, gift cards, and custom payments like checks or store credit. 

Add products

Now it’s time to add products to your POS system. Depending on your point-of-sale software provider, the number of products you can add may be limited. But with Shopify POS, you can add as many products as you need. You can also categorize them by collection, set inventory status, manage omnichannel inventory, create barcodes, and more.

💡 PRO TIP: When you use different platforms to run your online and retail stores, inventory discrepancies are more likely to happen. This can lead to more frequent inventory counts to reconcile differences and ensure stock levels are accurate.

Create staff accounts and update permissions 

Not all of your staff need to access the same information in your POS system. For example, you may want your store manager to update products or inventory and see sales performance per staff member, but you may want to limit store staff to processing transactions, issuing discounts, and looking up inventory. 

That’s why it’s important to create staff roles and permissions, something Shopify POS makes easy. You can give each staff member a unique PIN to log in to the POS system.

Run a test transaction 

Before you start accepting customer payments in your store, it’s important to make sure your touch screen cash register and POS system are integrated and working correctly. Run a test transaction to avoid friction later. 

Integrate apps

Do you want to let customers choose between local pickup or home delivery? Do you want to collect customer reviews on your website? Do you have a handful of loyal, repeat customers that you want to reward? Adding third-party embedded apps to your touch screen cash register is a great way to add these features and more to your POS system.

💡 PRO TIP: With Shopify, it’s easy to customize your POS system and extend its capabilities. Find apps built by our trusted partners the Shopify App Store to help you do anything–from counting foot traffic, appointment booking, and more.

Start accepting payments in your store

Now that you’ve set up your POS app, added products, set staff permissions, and integrated all the apps you need, it’s time to start selling. And you can do it all from your touch screen cash register. You don’t even need additional hardware like a barcode scanner (unless you prefer it). 

All you have to do is open up the Shopify POS app on your iPad, select the products your customer is purchasing, add them to the cart, apply a discount if necessary, and process the sale by having them tap their card or mobile wallet app (via their smartphone or wearable device) on the card reader. 

Analyze sales and reports 

Knowing how your store is performing is crucial to growing and planning for the future. With the Shopify POS app, you can run daily sales reports to get insight into your average order value (AOV), net sales, and average number of items per order. You can use this feature to compare your sales today to the sales you made on the same day one week prior. 

Additionally, you can get a view of your bestselling products, top-performing store staff, and most used payment methods. 

If you also have an online store, Shopify's analytics and reports let you see who’s visiting your website, review your online store’s recent activity, analyze sales across channels, track inventory, generate order and profit reports, and more.

📚Further reading: How La Portegna Grew Average Order Value by 20% and Scaled Internationally

Benefits of using a touch screen cash register with your retail POS

Using a POS system already has its own set of advantages, like centralizing inventory management, streamlining omnichannel sales, and generating real-time sales reports, to name a few. Choosing a touch screen cash register to connect with your POS system has added benefits. Let’s review them now:

Offer a faster and more convenient checkout experience

A shopper pulls a bunch of products off your racks and shelves, tries them on, loves a few, and proceeds to the checkout counter to find a queue of other customers waiting to pay. Long waiting times can cause potential or existing customers to leave your store, leading to lost sales and a poor in-store experience. 

With a touch screen cash register and the right POS software, you can speed up the checkout process. You and your staff won’t have to manually enter products or sales amounts, making the process faster and less prone to human error. 

You can also create checkout stations throughout your brick-and-mortar locations (rather than having a fixed checkout counter) and equip staff with an iPad to help customers complete their purchases anywhere in the store. 

And since everything is connected, at the end of the day, you won’t have to reconcile inventory or accounting, which is more convenient and saves time for you and your staff. 

Customize your POS

With traditional cash registers, there’s not much room to customize it or add functionalities. You have the keys to enter prices and a small screen that shows the total purchase amount. But by connecting a touch screen device with your POS system, you can customize it and add features to help streamline your operations and increase sales. 

For example, if a customer is shopping in-store but wants to complete the purchase later and have the products shipped to their house, you can create the order and use email carts to send a payment link.

You can also use your POS app to set up and run loyalty programs to incentivize repeat customers to increase their order value or shop from you more frequently.

And if you have multiple locations or also sell online, a good POS system will help you manage inventory and avoid stockouts across channels—if you make a sale in-store it will also update your online inventory.

Reduce staff training time

Running POS software on a touch screen device is user-friendly and intuitive. You and your staff are likely already very comfortable using an iPad or tablet, so there’s not a huge learning curve. You can cut down on staff training time and start selling right away.

Modernize the appearance of your retail checkout 

When was the last time you went to a store and saw a mechanical cash register fixed to a counter? You likely can’t remember. The design of your retail store is equally as important as the products you sell. If you’re selling products to younger, more technologically advanced customers, they’ll likely expect your store to be modern and aesthetically pleasing. Your store design should match your branding and a touch screen cash register is a great way to create a modern feel.

Get powerful analytics and reporting 

A POS system combined with a touch screen cash register helps you get a single view of all your sales data, inventory, customer profiles, staff sales, and more (regardless of the sales channel) to help you make the right decisions for your business. 

Reviewing data and trends, whether it be your bestselling products, most-used payment methods, or top-performing staff members is crucial in helping you grow your retail business.

💡 PRO TIP: Analyze your POS data in tandem with your ecommerce data to be more cost effective with your inventory, measure your store’s impact on online sales, repeat purchases, lifetime value, and more.

How to choose the best touch screen cash register and POS system combination

Whether you sell at weekend markets, have multiple brick-and-mortar locations, or are dissatisfied with your current POS system and want to switch, it’s important to choose a touch screen cash register with POS software that supports your current and future needs as you scale your retail business.

Using POS software for the first time or switching to a new POS system can feel impossible. It can feel like the options are endless and the specs and features widely vary. Researching each one and comparing providers via review sites is time-consuming and overwhelming.

Finding the right POS software for your touch screen cash register requires a lot of upfront research and consideration—but it’s well worth the investment. First, determine your current needs, then consider what you might need in the future. Do you have goals to open more brick-and-mortar locations? Are you planning to sell in-store and online? 

To set up your retail business for success, your POS software should help you:

  • Take payments and process sales with affordable transaction fees 
  • Offer flexible order fulfillment and return/exchange options (e.g., buy online, pickup in-store or buy online, return in-store)
  • Accept more payment methods, split payments, create partially paid orders
  • Speed up the and streamline the checkout process 
  • Manage inventory across all sales channels 
  • Take payments and sell everywhere your customers are 
  • Keep an eye on the health of your business with easy-to-digest analytics and reports 
  • Create customer profiles, review order history, and set up loyalty programs
  • Connect with third-party apps to extend your touch screen cash register’s capabilities
  • Seamlessly integrate with your other business apps like accounting and marketing software 

Buying a POS system doesn’t have to be daunting. As long as the touch screen cash register and POS software combined can help you with the points listed above, you’ll be in good hands. 

Get the best touch screen cash register for retail

Your retail business has its own set of needs. It’s essential to choose a touch screen cash register and POS software that matches those needs. 

We’re biased, of course, but Shopify POS is by far the best solution for merchants of all sizes. Whether you’re only selling in-person or are also selling online, everything’s combined into one easy-to-use back office. 

If you want to sell everywhere your customers are, Shopify POS is the best POS system. Buy hardware for your touch screen cash register including a retail stand, card reader, barcode reader, and receipt printer, and use software that helps you manage your omnichannel inventory, analyze sales, and unify customer and store data. 

You can also create unlimited staff accounts, set up staff roles and permission, and activate omnichannel selling features out of the box—something no other POS software offers. 

And if you have plans to set up an online store in the future, Shopify POS easily integrates with your Shopify online store. Use Shopify to reach your omnichannel retail goals without multiple third-party integrations.