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Computers in the retail Industry

ICT APPLICATION: Computers in the retail Industry

What is a Point-of-Sale?

The Point-of-Sale (POS) in a store is the place that you pay for your purchases. It is usually where the till (cash register) is located.

A typical POS will have…

A method of inputting the codes of goods purchased – usually a bar-code scanner. The codes are then used to find more information about the goods, such as price, from a database

A system to accept electronic payments – EFTPOS

A system to update the stock-level of goods whenever they are sold, and possibly to automatically re-order goods that have low stock-levels

A method of producing a receipt for purchases – usually a small dot-matrix printer

Supermarket Stock Control

Supermarkets use a number of general purpose ICT systems for a range of applications. They use stock control systems and point of sale (POS) terminals also known as checkouts.

The POS and stock control systems are connected to the supermarkets main computer.

What input and output devices are found at POS terminals?

Input devices

  • Barcode reader – to scan item bar codes
  • Keyboard – to type barcode number in case barcode doesn’t scan correctly
  • Chip and PIN reader – used by customers to enter PIN number for electronic fund transfer (EFT) payments
  • Magnetic Stripe Reader – used scan customer loyal cards (Tesco club card, etc.)

Output devices

  • Monitor – to view scanned items
  • Speaker – to output sound that item has been scanned properly
  • Printer – to print the customer receipt

Computers in the retail Industry

How do bar code readers work?

Bar code reader scans the bar code, which contains the product code. The product is then sent to the main computer to find the record of the product information file that contains information about each product such as:

  • Product name
  • Product price
  • Quantity in stock
  • Reorder level

When a product is scanned the name and price of the product are sent to the POS terminal where the item information is printed on a receipt.

How does the stock system work?

Sales made at each check out are recorded in the product information file as the goods are sold and stock levels down.
If the stock levels get to the reorder level the supplier is automatically contacted and requested to send more items.

What happens when the stock arrives?

When the new stock arrives the stock quantity is entered into the product information file.

What else can the stock control system be used for?

As the system is a computerized system it is possible to also measure other jobs such as:

  • Performance of staff at the check outs (how quick they scan)
  • Rate of sales can be used to increase stock of popular goods
  • Patterns of sales can show what needs to be stocked at certain times of the year
  • Extent of theft from the supermarket can be calculated

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