Number nine of our series is "Do I need a commercial grade cash register or a consumer grade register?"
First lets look at this question in more detail. Two of the three major cash register companies in the US sell both commercial grade and consumer grade registers. Commercial grade machines are found only through cash register dealers and never through big box stores. Consumer grade registers are sold through big box stores however you will find the rare dealer that sells a few as well.
The biggest problem with a consumer grade cash register is lack of support. If support is not that important to you than maybe that is not an issue. What you should know is every day my office gets calls from people who own consumer grade cash registers looking for support or more importantly looking for free support. When I say every day I literally mean every day without fail we will receive numerous calls from people looking for support for consumer grade registers. The consumer grade registers are most often very inexpensive and some have some great features you may not even find in a commercial grade register. If you are a high volume retail outlet or restaurant it is unlikely a consumer grade machine will hold up to the stress or you will be replacing them every 12 to 24 months. A good commercial grade register in our experience have a work life of 5 to 7 years and often much longer. Sure some don't last that long and the care and environment make a huge difference in lifespan.
Were we see a tremendous amount of frustration is the owner of a consumer grade register that needs to change the sales tax rate on their register. Before you call us you should also know that the commercial grade dealer like we are does not receive factory support from the manufactures of the consumer grade registers which is one reason we elect not to even attempt to support them any longer. Another huge sticking point is replacement parts. In most cases we are unable to get parts for the consumer grade registers and when we do they are outrageously over priced and I mean BAD! This just leads to very angry people yelling at our staff over pricing for a part for a machine that we had nothing to do with so of course we no longer even attempt to look up a part.
Where does a consumer grade register work? Well if you store/restaurant is owner operated, lower volume, not as much security requirements, no need to integrate with options like scanning, software, credit card etc! But most important they are for the person that will be a "Do it yourselfer"
A commercial grade register is for the person that does a little more business, needs interfaces to credit card, gift card, DVR etc. These registers are for people that need more security, or help with understanding the security features built into a machine. They are for people that when the tax changes want to be able to reach out to someone and get support. Commercial registers in most cases are scalable meaning they can grow and adapt with your business.
So really weigh the differences before you buy any register. If you are looking cheap cheap cheap than consumer grade is for you. If you need stability and support than maybe you should look at commercial grade. And please don't get me wrong there are some very successful stores and restaurants operating on consumer grade registers but there are far more using commercial grade.
Remember all of your return on investment from you business is coming back to you via the register or POS system. If used properly a commercial grade or consumer grade register can help you maximise the return!