Today’s methods of managing point of sale (POS) customer interactions is far different from only a few years ago. Many retail establishments have implemented hand-held devices that a customer service employee can use to check a customer out on the spot. This can be seen now in many, if not most, restaurants. Wait staff can take a customer’s credit card and take payment and provide a receipt at the table using point of sales printers.
These receipt printers are lightweight and very portable. There are several types of these portable printers available, including ink jet, thermal, and dot matrix printers.
Ink jet printers are normally used only when very high-quality printing is needed. Thius isn’t usually a requirement for receipts, but some upmarket establishments sometimes want their coloured logo or an eye-catching advertisement printed on the receipt. The ink is shot onto the paper through tiny heads, and for colour printing multiple heads are needed. The coloured inks can make replacement of the cartridges rather costly.
Thermal printers work by applying a heated element to paper that is sensitive to heat. The heat darkens the paper where it makes contact. As the element moves across that paper, it can make the shape of letters, numbers and even black and white images. That said, there are newer technologies available that can produce coloured prints with thermal printers.
The fact that a portable thermal printer has no need for toners or ink makes their running costs lower than for ink jet printers. Some print quality is sacrificed, though. Another drawback to the use of this technology is the life expectancy of the printed receipt. The treated paper will darken with time and can eventually make it unreadable. For most receipt, purposes, though, that slow degradation won’t matter. One thing to consider is that if these printers will spend significant time in a hot kitchen environment, the thermal paper can degrade much more quickly!
Dot Matrix printers are the least costly of these three options. They are hardy, and very reliable. They print by having an inked ribbon impacted by a printer head that produces dots on the paper that conform to the shapes of letters and numbers. They are capable of printing graphics, as well. Normally, these devices print in red and black, but other coloured ribbons can be found.
These portable printers are generally the lowest cost, and the running costs are low, with only ribbons and normal paper to be replaced. As it is normal paper, these devices are more popular when they’ll spend time in kitchens.
When looking into what types and brands of point of sale printers you wish to use in your establishment, a consideration will be how it connects with your other systems. There are now devices that can use a phone or a tablet (both iOS and Android) to place orders. These will interface with the systems to place order with a kitchen or a stockroom, manage inventories, and compile the order documents. The same units can them process the payment and communicate with the financial management software for the business. This allows for much greater efficiencies in the day-to-day running of the business.
The various types of printers have pluses and minuses. While dot matrix is solid, dependable, low cost initially and has low running costs, it is the slowest of the types, and is a bit noisy when printing. This can have a minor negative impact on a business’s “atmosphere”. Both Thermal and Ink Jet are faster and quieter than Dot Matrix, and have better quality pint output. They are also most costly to run. The choice come down to how high a quality output is desired, and how flexible the colour choices have to be.
Lastly, the hardware and software used should be supported by the equipment supplier. Here at Bixolon we have our customer service staff on hand to handle any problems or queries, along with our online resources, and downloads areas. We are proud of our products and support our customers.