Guest Column | August 15, 2013

Frankensteining POS Can Create A Monster

By Kris Harris, POS Nation,

Most of us are familiar with the story of Dr. Frankenstein. The 1931 film captured the famous quote, “It’s alive!” while displaying a depraved lunatic bringing a monster to life. Some may come across the original Mary Shelley story about a heartbroken scientist who tried to recreate life and ends up unleashing a depraved killer on his loved ones. In either case, one thing rings true: Dr. Frankenstein had the best intentions when crafting his creation, but unfortunately, in the end, it caused his demise.

In the point of sale (POS) industry, there is often jargon used such as “Frankensteining” a computer, or the acronym BYOC (bring your own computer).  In both of these cases, customers try to recreate a POS system — perhaps by purchasing a touch screen computer on eBay, a receipt printer on Amazon, and a cash drawer from a yard sale — in hopes of saving a few hundred dollars. While this may save some green on the front end, most of the time these customers end up creating a POS monster.

As a reseller, you have probably encountered some of these monster systems, either to repair or replace. It’s important that you explain the importance of having a POS technician create and maintain these systems. They make sure that the specific thermal receipt printer will interface correctly with the POS software, the receipt information and business logos print correctly, and the receipt printer will trigger the cash drawer. Also, POS experts determine that the drivers will be recognized by the POS, and that the software will activate each driver without error messages. 

There are tech savvy customers that love this challenge —computers and technology may be their hobby, IT might have been a past career, or computer programming might have been a talent in a past life.  Approximately 90 percent of our support calls are issues with customers trying to Frankenstein a computer. There are countless times when I hear, “I’m having this issue with my receipt printer, and I’m at my wits end!  I’m usually pretty good with computers.”

Encourage your customers not to cut corners and to understand the importance of properly integrating POS with other components (such as an integrated scale, thermal receipt printer, cash drawer, or bar code scanner). A POS system should be designed by someone familiar with the technology’s functionality, but also with how each of the components work and fit together. And customers should never have the potential headache of configuring the system on their own. The last thing any business owner wants to do is Google the model of a cash drawer during a busy Friday night rush to figure out what’s wrong. Sometimes up-front cost savings can ultimately hurt a business. If the POS goes down during a busy rush due to a cobbled together system, your customer could lose sales.

Ultimately, you should stress putting trust in a POS provider.