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Point of Service (POS) — also known as Point of Sale (POS) or Point of Purchase (POP) — refers to the actual time and place where a customer executes a retail transaction. Historically the most common POS equipment has been cash registers and old-fashioned tills. But as retail has become increasingly digitized and complex, the tools that support it have grown more sophisticated as well, to the point that a lot more than sales transactions now takes place at the Point of Service.

A modern Point of Service system is a combination of hardware and software that supports all kinds of customer transactions with speed and efficiency and delivers a superior customer experience. It can also provide significant added value to the merchant, including helping manage stock inventories, reduce human error during transactions, manage employee schedules, identify superior employee sales records, and detect employee theft. Modern POS systems utilize barcode scanning which can adapt to changes in price easily, and avoid the risk of human error. POS systems can also support a wide range of customer acquisition and retention activities, like discounts and loyalty programs. Payment card terminals are often part of a POS system, including integrated receipt printers, and support is also needed for emerging technologies like contactless payment where customers swipe their card or smart phone across the terminal.

Modern POS systems are some of the most complex software systems being built today, because of the variety of hardware, software, and security requirements that must be accommodated for different scenarios. Retail IT infrastructure poses unique challenges and must be designed from the start to handle this complexity. Tools like SUSE Linux Enterprise Point of Service can help by simplifying the management of in-store servers and POS devices using centralized administration and deployment tools.