A Simple Cash Register Implementation

In addition to my technology work, I am an owner and operator of a food business, Lucienne’s Fine Foods. Lucienne’s currently sells primarily through other retailers, and through web sales. It is now starting retail sales. This presents a challenge to incorporate the retail counter sales into our transaction system, which has previously been designed primarily for web sales.

Lucienne’s web store is based on an integrated e-commerce system from Volusion. The Volusion system provides the full back-end order and payment system. It also provides a page for “Point of Sale”.

This feature is intended to be used by merchants who operate both an online store as well as a traditional, brick-and-mortar retail establishment. Customers can go to the merchant’s store online and place an order, or simply walk in and purchase products in person.

Retail vs. On-line products

At Lucienne’s, the point of sale operation required that several products be added that are not available at the on-line store. Cups of coffee don’t ship very well. With Volusion, I added an additional product category called “Retail Products” which are not displayed on the web site. This is done by checking the “hidden” box in the category’s “Basic Category Info” field.

Now products are added that are included in the “Retail Products” are somewhat available, but the operator has no direct method to find them on the POS page. Volusion does provide a secondary method for product selection on the POS screen, using UPC labels.

Using the UPC Code Field

To allow use of UPC codes, one simply adds a numeric code to the UPC Code field on the Product entry, in the Vendor Information section. Now the operator can simply type in the UPC code on the POS screen to select the product.

Of course, typing 12 digit numeric fields is not as easy as you might like. Certainly not as easy as I might like. The better method is to use a bar code scanner to read in the bar code directly. This leads to the next challenge; printing the bar code.

Bar Code Generation

The Volusion Product page has a link to “Generate Barcode” next to the UPC Code field. This brings up a window that will display a barcode from a numeric entry. Unfortunately, the displayed barcode is an amalgam of images for the thick and thin white and black bars. The image cannot be saved as a single image. A snapshot from the window will likely yield a fuzzy image that is not readable. Which leads me to wonder what the value of this tool is.

The Volusion information for the UP Code indicates:

Enter a numeric value into this field to assign a UPC or I25 code to a product in your Volusion store.

Note that UPC codes configured for your Volusion store’s products must have 13 digits. For UPC codes with less than 13 digits, precede the UPC number with one or more zeros until your UPC code meets the 13 digit requirement.

I25 codes must contain an even number of digits.

To generate a scanable bar code for a product’s UPC or I25 code, click on the Generate Barcode next to this field, enter your UPC or I25 code and click the available Generate button.

However, in reality there appears to be no checking on the data entered. I have tried using alpha characters and this field and the Volusion system accepted the data. This could allow simpler manual entry in the POS page. A downside to using alpha coding is that the bar code scanner might not be able to read it. In my case, the Code 39 ASCII barcode format is not readable. This leads me to a choice of easier manual entry, or ability to scan. I have chosen use of a scanner.

Generating Scannable Barcodes

As mentioned above, the Volusion Barcode Generator is no help in creating an actual scannable barcode. I was able to find several free on-line barcode generators:

There are others as well.

Printing a UPC Scan Sheet

Once the UPC Code entries have been created in the Volusion system and the barcodes have been generated, a Scan Sheet may be created to ease the data entry. Using Microsoft Word, I used a simple table to list the various products that we sell over the counter. One column of the table contains the product description and another column contains the barcode image. The sales person now can use the POS screen to create a shopping cart by scanning the appropriate entries.

To allow flexibility, I added a “Misc Sale” product definition, which has a price of $0.01. If any sales are made which do not directly correspond to a defined product, then the Misc Sale entry is chosen, and the sales person can enter the price manually. POS allows the operator to override the price on any items.

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22 thoughts on “A Simple Cash Register Implementation

  1. Do you have a Volusion design and development portfolio? I run a Volusion development shop called http://www.visagemarketinggroup.com and I’m always looking for new talent!
    We do Volusion template design, Volusion development,Volusion SEO, Volusion API development, product upload, Volusion business services and Volusion customization. Looking forward to hearing from you if you are looking for contract work!

  2. Terry,

    Thanks for this post. I am currently attempting to set up Volusion’s POS system to run a non-profit coffeeshop/artisan boutique in Fayetteville, AR. I’ve also wondered about the functionality of their built-in barcode generator, good to hear I’m not the only one. I did have some luck just copying and pasting the generated barcodes into a Word template, although I did not try a scanner with them (I just thought from looking that they had maintained their fidelity well). I’ve been debating using I25 over UPC because since it has no algorithmic checksum, I can easily formulate codes for each product via importable .csv file. (also because the codes can be much shorter than 12 digits). We’ll be ordering a scanner within the next week to fiddle around with it. Thanks for the list of code generators, and I hope your endeavors fare well!

    Adam

    • You’re welcome.

      I would suggest testing the chosen bar code format with your scanner before committing too much effort to the bar code creation, just to be certain that it will read the format you choose. My scanner seems to be a little limited in its formats.

      In the final implementation, I have used a combination of UPC and Code 39. I use UPC for those products that have valid UPC codes on the labels and Code 39 for any internally generated numbers.

      Terry

  3. Would you mind me asking about some other details that you could provide about using the Volusion POS? We’re about to launch a pretty big operation and I want to be sure that their system can handle it. For instance, how do you manage when a customer pays in cash? Do you use a USB cash drawer, and how do you quickly and accurately determine change? (it looks to me like the POS doesn’t report change due)

    Also, what program do you use for bookkeeping?

    Thank you very much,

    Adam

    • We have an “open” cash drawer; not integrated to the computer.

      POS does report change due. You enter the cash tendered in the “Cash Payments” field on the POS screen and press the “Pay” button. This will take you to an Order Summary. Press the “Place Order” button and you are taken to a receipt print page, with the change shown.

      For Credit Card purchases, we use a bar code scanner. You enter the CVV2 code in the “Credit Card Payments” screen and then place the cursor in the “Credit / Debit Card” field. Then swipe the card. Do not select the “Scan” button; I have no idea what it is supposed to do. After swiping the card you are again taken to the Order Summary page. Press the “Place Order” button to complete the sale and go to the print receipt screen.

      One annoyance I have found is that orders placed in this method are in “Processing” status. You need to set the status to “Order Shipped” to complete the order and enable capture of the credit card sales. This can be done from the “Orders->Overview” list. Enable editing on the “Order Status” column to allow changing the state on several sales at once. Volusion had said that a change could be requested to automatically move POS sales to “Order Shipped”, but they would want a development fee. As my order load is somewhat low, I have tolerated this extra manual step.

      Regarding bookkeeping, we use QuickBooks. This is also not integrated. We manually enter daily sales and sales tax into QuickBooks. I use the reports screen to pull up daily totals. Another problem is that the daily total includes both POS sales and Web sales. Of course, a Custom report could be used to show sales by customer, but I have not done this. If the sales load is high, I export the daily report to a .csv file and use Excel to sort the sales based on shipping charges. POS sales have no charge for shipping while Web orders have shipping charges.

      Terry

    • The POS system will go to a print receipt screen at the completion of each sale. You can send it to any attached printer.

      Since we seldom need to print a receipt (customers usually say they don’t need one) we just use our network attached laser printer. If we were printing more, I would likely get a thermal receipt printer and attach to the PC. Several are available at prices ranging from around $110 to $400. I have no experience with any of them, so I can’t offer a recommendation.

      Terry

  4. Please Help me. I am a volusion store front and we decided to use volusion for two of our companies. The bulk of our sales are at shows and we were looking to barcode our merchandise to keep track for what we send out to our reps as well as do a pos at the time for the shows. So I am pulling out my hair. Went and bought the dymo 450 turbo thought I could use the excel database and transfer that into dymo and generate the barcode and add prices and be happily ever after. I was dead wrong and now feel I have entered a nightmare. So what I have concluded is I have to go in and create each product a barcode add the price on the barcode because thats where we attached pricing to our product then go in to volusion and add the barcode number as well. Is this right or any advice you can give me.

    Also apps that are on Iphone that read barcodes do not interface with the pos you actually need to get a scanner and what do you recomment. How does the scanner know to send the scan to the volusion pos? Please help Elizabeth

    • For each product entered into Volusion, you need to add the bar code and price. Depending on your support level with Volusion, you may need to enter one at a time, or you could load in from a spreadsheet. I think you need Gold level or higher for the spreadsheet load in. I have Bronze support, so I do them one at a time.

      I am not sure what you mean by “create a price on the barcode”. The barcode is a reference number. I use UPC codes on my barcodes, as they will be used by other retailers and I want to be sure they are unique. The code does not contain the price. The price is in the Volusion product list. You can export the product list, including price and barcode, if you want to provide your reps with a spreadsheet that includes the prices and barcodes.

      I have not used any Iphone apps, so I can’t comment on those. The scanner does not “know” to send the codes anywhere. A scanner looks to the computer to be a keyboard. It is very simply a text input device. You can scan into anything that will accept text. With the Volusion POS, you set the cursor into the “UPC Code” entry field and then scan.

      I hope this helps.

  5. I am about to relaunch my retail store and want to use pos with our volusion store.
    I am thinking that I will assign a different log in to use for store.
    so that I can run a report to see sales web vs store.
    any insight to this?

    also how did you get the credit card machine to work do I need to set up a separate retail account with volusion??

    thanks so much
    pam

    • I also used a separate login for retail sales. I typically exported the reports to CSV and then used Excel to analyze the data to see web vs. retail.

      I did not integrate with a credit card machine. For a time we used the POS screen to process the credit cards online, with a simple card swipe reader on the computer. When I later switched to using a retail credit card machine (with lower transaction charges) we entered the sales cash a cash payment on the POS screen.

  6. My customers are not using UPC. That’s why I am not know about UPC. Your sharing is very nice. I have read through your article and found interest with the links that you share.
    However, my company is a cash register, point of sales, office automation and security system provider.
    I think I need to study some more information related to barcode. My customers mostly using EAN-8 and EAN-13. And I got research some information about QR Code.
    Thank for your sharing.

    • When I set this up we also did not use UPC for most products, although now I do. Volusion allows arbitrary scan codes, so you can use whatever works with your scanner.

  7. What model of scanner works best???
    I am inputting UPC codes do I need to generate bar codes or just input the existing numbers for the scanner to work??

    • I don’t have any particular information on what scanner might work best. As long as the scanner works with your computer and with your bar cods, it will work with the Volusion system. The scanner is simply sending a character sequence as a keyboard would.

      If you are using existing UPC bar codes, then you don’t need to generate anything. I needed to do this because we were making our own products which previously did not have bar codes.

  8. This thread is very helpful. It’s great to see people sharing and collaborating. 🙂 Sounds like many of you are using Volusion’s POS system, I’m trying to decided between using Volusion’s POS and possibly Quick Books Point of Sale system and using the API or a integrator service for the systems to sync data.

    Does anyone have any insights to what POS systems may work best with Volusion.

    For those using Volsion POS and Quickbooks for accounting do you simply just do a manual end of day report to manage your cash draw? I was suprised to see that Volusion hadn’t set something up like this since you can accept cash payments. 🙂

    • Hi Janine,

      Since writing up this post, I have switched away from using the Volusion POS. My sales increased enough for me to justify having a second credit card merchant account to handle the in-store sales, and using the credit card terminal is a little easier than using the Volusion POS.

      I had been using Quickbooks Cash Register Plus for a while, and I have just switched to Quickbooks Point of Sale, Free Version. I am doing manual sync to my Quickbooks accounting software. I continue to use Volusion for Web orders, and I also manually sync the sales records to Quickbooks.

  9. hi,
    this is very interesting. i ahve an online store with volusion, and to retail stores that i need to connect all together so that all the stock is coming out of one basket as such.
    any suggestions?
    shall i stick with volusion pos and get a scanner etc and go down that route do you think ?
    also does anyone know if you can attach a chip and pin credit card machine to the volusion pos as this is what we have in the UK?
    many thanks,
    all feedaback will be much appreciated!

    • As my volume increased, I found this method was costly compared to using dedicated card terminals in the store. While Volusion POS is convenient, I was able to get better terms through other vendors. I really don’t know about connecting a terminal to Volusion POS.

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