How to Turn Your Computer Into a Cash Register
By Lauren Miller
If you are just starting a business that requires processing point-of-sale transactions, you can save money by using a computer you already own as a cash register. With POS programs for computers, you can also complete other tasks such as voids, no sales and refunds. Some programs are free, while others charge fees for usage.
Download compatible POS software for your computer. For example, Cash Register is a free and easy-to-use program for PCs. If you're an Intuit QuickBooks user, install the QuickBooks Point of Sale plugin. Lightspeed Retail Point of Sale is suitable for Mac desktops and iOS devices, while Square Register offers a free app for Macs and iPads (links in Resources).
Purchase peripherals for your software, including cash drawers, card readers, barcode scanners and receipt printers. Intuit and Lightspeed offer hardware including a barcode scanner, cash drawer and receipt printer for sale or lease. Online retailers also sell compatible peripherals for computer cash registers.
Install the POS software on your computer. Connect the peripherals to your computer when prompted by the software installation wizard. You may also be able to use a regular printer for receipts instead of purchasing a cash register printer.
Open your newly installed software. Follow the instructions in the software's manual or help section for entering your company’s details into the program, such as state sales tax information.
Enter or import your product inventory details -- such as product names and UPC codes -- into the software. With QuickBooks Point of Sale, you can use your inventory data from QuickBooks.
Conduct a test of the system by scanning a few items and running transactions. Print out a receipt and check to see if the software recorded the transaction.
Cash Register is a small, free program that can track up to 26,000 items in 256 categories for POS transactions.
The basic version of QuickBooks Point of Sale costs about $1,100 as of December 2012. The multistore version is about $1,800.
The base price Lightspeed is around $1,100 for one user license as of December 2012. The company offers monthly financing plans, and their iOS app also runs on iPhones and iPod Touch devices.
The Square Register apps are free, but the company charges 2.75 percent per transaction for all major credit cards or a fee of $275 per month, as of December 2012.
You must sign up with a credit card processing service in order to complete credit card transactions with Cash Register.
- Cash Register: User’s Guide for POS/Cash Register
- Intuit Point of Sale: Point of Sale Products
- QuickBooks Support: Import QuickBooks Data Into QuickBooks Point of Sale
- LightSpeed: Overview
- Apple: LightSpeed for iPad
- Square: Managing Items
- Square Register: Pricing
- PCMag.com: New Square App Turns iPad Into Cash Register
- Entrepreneur: For Some Businesses, Square Register Can Replace Traditional Point-of-Sales Tools
- Macworld: Square Register
Lauren Miller has more than 10 years of experience as a writer and editor. Her articles on technology, small business and legal topics have appeared in magazines, newspapers and trade journals. She has a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and is an avid gardener and sports fan.