Many retailers in a wide variety of businesses need durable, accurate, integrated scales that can quickly provide weight data to their point-of-sale system or computer network.
From cups of frozen yogurt to scoops of candy to dog biscuits, accurate weighing is important to customer service and the bottom line for retail businesses.
While there are several different types of scales that could be considered retail POS scales, including price computing scales, scanner scales, hanging scales, and portion scales, this article will focus on basic, integrated scale bases connected directly to cash register systems. These scales must be NTEP legal for trade within the US since money is changing hands based on the weight of the scale.
Simple weight-only POS scales are found in retail locations typically at the cash register checkout area and are frequently used to weigh bulk goods and products. Because of their locations within tight counter space real estate, they must be compact and have a large enough size platform to weigh commodities easily, but also not use up any extra space than required. The weight readout is frequently transferred directly to an external device, such as an electronic cash register, or integrated into an extensive computer network.
These types of scales must be highly accurate, affordable, durable, compact, NTEP or Measurement Canada legal-for-trade and easy to operate. They typically have stainless steel platforms for easy clean-up and long-term use. More complex scales include programmable price computing scales that can help track inventory and expensive scanner-scale combinations found in many retail checkout areas that use lasers to read UPC barcodes. While the more complex scales certainly have their place as a standalone type system, simple weight-only POS scales are a very valuable tool to many businesses because they are typically compact and can be situated directly at the checkout counter; they simply weigh the commodity and send that data to their connected software.
DETECTO has manufactured the Enterprise APS retail POS scale many years for a national pet supply retailer, which has more than 4,000 of the scales in use in their stores across the country.
“We use the APS scales at the point-of-sale cash wraps and grooming check in,” says the retailer’s Coriandra Swatek, senior manager of store ops planning, purchasing and maintenance. “We have that comfortability of knowing the scales will work and not cause issues with being weights and measures compliant. I also appreciate that when we send out new scales to new and remodel projects, we can reach out to DETECTO to help with calibration instead of relying on a third party. Especially because new and remodel locations have such a tight timeline before we grand open,” Swatek said, referencing DETECTO’s 450-strong nationwide dealer network the company offers through their Cardinal Scale division that can calibrate and place scales into service across the entire US.
Linking simple POS scales to the cash register and computer network means no change needs to be made to payment methods, and the ability to track sales and inventory is determined by the features of the system the scale feeds data to. The NCI output format is commonly used to communicate data from the scale to the register. More recent payment apps such as Clover, Lightspeed and Square also work with POS scales, providing the customer with extensive storefront capabilities to choose from.
Simple POS scales are also easy to use, with very few buttons and very little training needed (the Enterprise APS scale only has two buttons). This also makes them easily adaptable to uses other than POS systems. One New York electronics manufacturer is currently converting their warehouse and shipping department scales over to DETECTO’s APS series because the USA-made scale is proving to be more durable than competitor’s foreign-made scales, which were being replaced nearly every year. The company says that the easy availability of replacement displays and domestic parts make it simple to keep the APS scales working in a rough-and-tumble warehouse environment.
One valuable feature of many POS scales, including DETECTO’s APS series, is adjustable digital filtering, which helps provide a consistent, steady weight in environments where electronic noise and vibrations might make some scales give unstable weight readings. This can easily happen around supermarket checkout conveyor belts which create noise. Digital filtering corrections help keep transactions fast and efficient.
Since the scales are fairly basic in terms of capabilities, connectivity is paramount, because weight data will need to be sent to cash register software. To maximize interconnection options, many scales like DETECTO’s APS come with a variety of ports, including multiple RS-232 serial ports and a USB port, so that the scales can be easily integrated with business systems and connects to a variety of displays. DETECTO’s APS has an optional Wi-Fi module available for wireless connectivity to a central network. Users may want to customize the display, which is attached to the base of the scale, but may be relocated to be wall-mounted or an additional pole-mounted display can be added for easy customer viewing.
Calibration for most simple POS scales is quick and easy, and the scales have a built-in bullseye bubble for leveling. Regulations vary from state-to-state when it comes to how often NTEP scales should be calibrated, so check with local officials to see what is required in your area. Many manufacturers recommend calibrating a scale at least quarterly.
Choosing the right size and capacity to suit your business needs is also part of getting the right scale. For example, DETECTO’s APS scales come in four platform sizes, ranging from 6x10 inches up to 18x18 inches, with six capacities ranging from 160 ounces up to 250 pounds. The 5-digit, 7-segment backlit green display is bold and easy to read, although some major retail chains build the scale platform into their checkout area, so the display isn’t even seen and weight data is sent directly to the POS software for the checkout clerk to record. The scale’s removable stainless steel cover sits on top of a ¼ inch steel plate and single central load cell.
For more information on this or any other DETECTO scale, please visit www.Detecto.com or call 1-800-641-2008.