In retail businesses, the point of sale refers to the place and time that a sale transaction occurs. It is the fundamental element in any retailer's business. Employees who work at the point of sale interact with customers and are responsible for securing payment and delivering merchandise. This requires skills at a number of tasks to provide an efficient sale that complies with store policies.
Any point-of-sale procedures involve using equipment -- varied by store -- but often includes a cash register or computer, bar code scanner and credit card machine. Retail employees who have access to cash registers at the point of sale must follow procedures for safeguarding and accounting for cash, credit receipts and personal checks. This includes following the proper opening and closing procedures each day or shift. A great deal of point-of-sale procedural training focuses on operating the equipment properly.
Transaction procedures at a point of sale finalize customers' purchases. Beyond understanding how to operate the equipment, an employee must know what type of transaction to process. Credit card procedures include chargebacks, which refund a customer's purchase and credit the account for the purchase price. Merchandise returns that receive a cash refund or store credit are also among common point-of-sale procedures.
Some point-of-sale procedures relate to general customer service instead of a final transaction. For example, customers may have questions about particular products. This means that point-of-sale employees need product familiarity training if they are to give accurate answers. Point-of-sale customer service may also include performing price checks, referencing inventory and explaining special promotions or discounts that do or do not apply to a transaction. In stores that offer credit accounts, frequent buyer programs and mailing lists, point-of-sale procedures also include administering these programs.
The point of sale is also where delivery of merchandise takes place. This procedure can vary widely based on what a retailer sells. In many stores, it simply involves bagging the merchandise for customers. In other cases, employees may wrap merchandise for storage, shipping or gifting at the point of sale. When customers pay for merchandise using a voucher or order number, point-of-sale employees must retrieve the merchandise from a stock area or direct customers to the pick-up location.
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