Setting up any kind of small business that involves selling goods to the public means you’ll need some sort of till system so you can take payments. This has been the case since the first cash register was invented in the USA in the 19th century. For a long time tills remained essentially the same, as simple in their operation as the toy ones children still play with today.

However, in the 21st century, till systems have become much more sophisticated, integrating with other systems to create a cohesive and holistic ePOS (electronic point of sale) function. So, whether you’re setting up a new business or looking to improve your existing processes, here is a guide for everything you need to know about till systems for small businesses.

What is a till system?

Put simply, a till system is a device for registering and calculating transactions at a point of sale. This can be in a restaurant, a bar, a pub, a shop or any other establishment where money is handed over for goods or services. The first system was set up in a saloon in Ohio in 1879 with the aim of preventing staff from stealing the takings.

It was called Ritty’s Incorruptible Cashier, which would have been a much better name going forwards than ‘till system’, and introduced aspects that would remain key for these systems for more than 100 years, including the opening drawer for cash and the ringing of a bell to signify a transaction taking place.

Over time the till system was copied and tweaked. Other crucial functions were introduced like the production of a receipt that customers could take away with them and the addition of a barcode scanner connected to a database of products. Till systems today also have access to information informing them of any relevant deductions for sales of special offers.

Another recent addition is the invention of self-service checkouts at supermarkets, which have ePOS till systems that customers can use themselves without the need for staff members to operate them. These are mostly found in larger businesses, but as they continue to grow in popularity, have the potential to be used in smaller businesses too.

Retail Till System

The kind of till system most of us encounter most often is the retail till system, which we find in shops of all sizes. Generally, the till system is in a fixed location in small businesses, with a member of staff operating it. It’ll be attached to a card machine for taking payments and using systems like Dojo - it can be connected seamlessly, enabling smoother, faster transactions to help keep queues down.

Integrating a till system with Dojo only takes minutes and helps to save time at the end of every day too, because transaction amounts are securely passed between devices to ensure everything adds up the way it should.

Retail till systems themselves have come a long way since the days of the Incorruptible Cashier, with numbered buttons replaced by sophisticated touch screens that make every transaction simple, as well as connecting storefront, back office and even e-commerce activity all in one place.

Till system for restaurants

There have been plenty of changes to the till system for restaurants across the years too. Not all that long ago, paying for your meal involved trying to catch the eye of a staff member, waiting for the bill and finally being taken over to the till to pay by card. This is what would now be classed as a more inconvenient and lengthy customer experience.

However, modern technology like the Dojo Go has made it quick and simple for restaurants to take their tills to the customer with a mobile card machine. Not only can it quickly and securely take payments while staying integrated with your till system, cutting down keying-in time. Of course, there’s also the flexibility to take payments at the counter too.

Most importantly, the Dojo Go allows customers the ability to add tips or even split the bill while paying at their own table. Complicated payments sorted, without ever leaving their seats.

This kind of integrated till system has plenty of benefits including speeding up sales because you only need to key in the transaction once, and processing payments twice as fast and more accurately. 

Speedy payments of course also benefit customers too - let’s face it nobody likes to be kept waiting after they’re finished eating. Streamlined, flexible payments are more likely to enhance their experience, encouraging customer retention and loyalty. The machine can even print the bill at the table, without needing to be done from the ePOS, ideal for the customers that ask for a receipt.

Till system for bars

An advantage of mostly using the till system at the counter is also that card machines stay in place instead of being carried across busy bars where there is the potential for them to get damaged. It also reduces the time taken to complete a transaction, which is essential when there’s a long queue for drinks.

Speed is of the essence at bars where no-one likes to queue, so the embracing of ePOS and card machines has gone a long way to cut down on waiting times. Using a modern till system also means being better able to keep track of stock levels with the right software included, ensuring that you don’t unexpectedly run out of a popular drink at the wrong time.

However, a bar till system also needs flexibility. While most transactions might naturally take place at the counter as customers come to buy drinks, there also needs to be the ability to take orders at tables when required.

Are you ready to take flexible payments and help simplify your cash flow? Find out more about Dojo card machines today.