Retail Solutions

Point of sale terminology: A glossary of commonly used terms

Point of sale terminology: A glossary of commonly used terms
Close up of dictionary showing word definition

Point of sale terminology: A glossary of commonly used terms


Most people will have at least heard of point of sale. It can refer to promotional material and signage, but more commonly, the term is used by retailers to describe the systems that help them manage and grow their businesses.

Point of sale systems have been around for decades, and it would be hard to imagine running a retail business without one now.

If you work in the retail industry, you’ll probably know how a point of sale systems works, and that it helps to manage transactions, products, promotions etc., but how well do you know the jargon used to describe its functions and features?

As with all technology, abbreviations and acronyms are commonly used, and it can be useful to have an understanding of what they mean.

We take the mystery out of point of sale terminology with this useful guide.


Terminology graphic


Point of sale terminology: A glossary of commonly used terms



API stands for Application Programming Interface, and it is a set of rules and protocols that allows different software systems to communicate with each other. It acts as an intermediary between separate systems, allowing them to share data and functionality. This allows your point of sale system to integrate with other software applications, for example, a web shop.


A barcode is a method of representing data using a pattern of parallel lines of varying widths and spacings. These lines are read by a barcode scanner, which then translates the pattern into a digital code that can be used to store and retrieve information. Barcodes are often used to track inventory, identify products, and manage other types of data in retail, manufacturing, and logistics.

There are many different types of barcodes, such as UPC (Universal Product Code), EAN (European Article Number/International Article Number), and QR (Quick Response) codes, each with a specific format and uses.


Back office. The heart of your point of sale system, a back office is your administration and operations management area. This is where all your data is processed, and you can access and update your stored information. Think pricing, promotions, reporting, and accounting – everything that is needed to manage the business –  this is where it all happens. Within Retail Solutions, with is also known as RSBO or RsBackOffice.


CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. It is a system or strategy that businesses use to manage and analyse interactions and data from customers, clients, and sales prospects. The goal of CRM is to improve relationships with customers, increase sales, and streamline business processes. CRM systems typically include features like contact management, sales tracking, marketing automation, and customer analytics. These features can be used to gain insights into customer behaviour, preferences, and purchase history, which can help a business tailor its marketing efforts and improve customer service.


A fuel and forecourt controller that connects your entire forecourt system to your EPOS system. It allows communication between fuel pumps, tank gauges, payment terminals, car washes, etc.


European Article Number. This is a 13-digit international barcode standard used to identify products. The first three digits of the code are called the country code and identify the country where the product was manufactured or sold. The next 7 digits are the manufacturer code, and the last 3 digits are the product code. It evolved from the original 12-digit UPC (Universal Product Code).

EAN’s are 8 digits long (EAN-8) when used on smaller objects, such as cigarette packaging.


Electronic Delivery Note (Goods-in). This is a digital document that confirms the shipment of goods to a customer. The EDN includes details such as the customer’s name and address, the items being shipped, the quantity of each item, and the date of dispatch.

It is generated electronically, either automatically by the system or manually by an operator, and can include a barcode or QR code for scanning and verification. The EDN serves as a record of the transaction for accounting and invoicing purposes, and it helps to track and manage the delivery of goods to ensure that the correct items are being sent to the right customer.


Electronic Goods Received Note (Goods-out). This is a digital version of a Goods Received Note, which is a document that confirms that goods have been received from a supplier. The eGRN typically includes details such as the supplier’s name, the date of receipt, the items received, and the quantity of each item. It is used to match the goods received with the purchase order, to update the inventory levels in the EPOS system, and also to validate the invoice and ensure that the goods were received as ordered and are free of defects.

EPOS (also known as POS system)

EPOS stands for “Electronic Point of Sale”. It is a system that allows for the electronic recording of sales transactions, typically through the use of a computer or other electronic devices, such as a tablet or smartphone. This system can be used in various types of businesses, including retail stores, restaurants, and hotels, to process payments and track inventory. The EPOS system can be integrated with other software like accounting, inventory management, and CRM.


Electronic Shelf Edge Label. These are a modern version of traditional paper price tags, using e-ink to display clear, up-to-the-minute digital prices. They integrate with the EPOS system, allowing prices to be updated instantly throughout the store.


GRN stands for “Goods Received Note” (Goods-out). The same as an ‘eGRN’ (see above), but the non-digital version. A paper document which confirms that goods have been received from a supplier.


Handheld terminal. A portable, wireless terminal that is mainly used on the shop floor or in the stock room. The terminal connects to the EPOS system and scans barcodes, which provides several useful functions. It can be used to receive goods in or re-order products. It is also used to view and update product information, such as description and price, or assist with regular stock checks. The unit/s connect wirelessly via an access point, and can be used anywhere within its range.


Head office. Similar to a back office, head office is used to control a multiple-site business via a physical or virtual server. Head office can manage all of the products, pricing levels, and promotions etc. required by branches that have individual requirements, yet are connected to the same company. A head office system can roll out information to a single branch, or all branches simultaneously, and the data for the entire network can be viewed centrally.


Third party software and services that work together with your EPOS system, sharing data and information. This allows your system to work smoothly with many additional services, such as payment providers, accounting specialists, loyalty programmes, stocktaking companies etc. Shared information means faster processing and greatly reduces the possibility of errors.


A ledger in an EPOS system refers to the electronic record of all financial transactions that take place through the system, including sales, returns and payments. The ledger in an EPOS system is used to track and record the financial activity of a business, and it’s linked to other software systems to provide real-time updates and automatic tracking of financial data.


A margin is a term that refers to the difference between the cost of a product or service and the price at which it is sold. It is often expressed as a percentage of the selling price and is used to measure the profitability of a product or service.

Nominal code

A Nominal Code (also referred to as a Nominal Ledger Code) is a numerical or alphanumerical code used to classify and organise financial transactions in an accounting system. Each account in a company’s chart of accounts is assigned a unique nominal code, which is used to record and track financial transactions related to that account. Nominal codes are used to organise financial data in a way that allows for easy analysis, reporting and budgeting, and also provides a way to standardise financial information.


The process between deciding on the new system you want to use, and being fully up and running with it. This is the process of working with consultants, engineers, tradespeople such as electricians, and system trainers until everything is working smoothly and all staff are comfortable with the new system.


A PED stands for “Pin Entry Device”. It is a small electronic device that is used to enter a personal identification number (PIN) to authorise a transaction. It’s commonly used in POS terminals or ATMs (automated teller machines) to authenticate debit or credit card transactions, and can also be used for other types of transactions such as online banking or mobile payments.


Personal identification number issued for use with a card.


PLU stands for “Price Look-Up”. It is a four or five-digit numerical code used in the retail industry to identify a specific product, usually produce, at the point of sale. These codes are used to automate the checkout process and are scanned by a barcode reader at the register. PLU codes are used to identify both conventionally grown and organic produce, and also to indicate whether a fruit or vegetable is pre-cut or packaged.


Profit is the amount of money a business earns after all of its expenses have been paid. It is the difference between the revenue (the money a business earns from selling goods or services) and the cost of goods sold (the cost of the materials and labour used to produce those goods or services) as well as operating expenses (the costs of running the business, such as rent, utilities, and salaries).

QR Code

Quick Response code. It is a two-dimensional barcode that can store more information than traditional linear barcodes. QR codes can be scanned using a smartphone camera and a QR code reader app, and can be used to store information such as product details, website URLs, or contact information.


Also known as BO or RSBO, see ‘BO’ above. EPOS business management software that controls every aspect of the shop from orders to sales.


RS Dashboard, or RS Dash, is a Retail Solutions application that delivers real time sales data to retailers via their mobile devices. The app allows detailed analysis of sales KPIs (key performance indicators) in terms of overall volume, margin, and turnover.


RS Mobile provides back office functionality on the shop floor via a handheld or tablet; a portable, real-time version of your back office that’s available anywhere within Wi-Fi range.


The Point of Sale software used on the Retail Solutions till system.  Allows the user  to view information, add products to a transaction, and edit data.


Reduced to Clear. Items close to their sell by date that have been reduced in price.


Software as a Service. Software provided via the internet as a subscription service. Point of sale software can be delivered in this manner, it’s instant and allows multiple users to access the same software and information from anywhere, via the cloud.

SaaS is centrally hosted and managed by the software provider. All software services, from updates, to storage and back up, are managed and maintained by the software service company.


Self-Checkout, or self-service checkouts, are point of sale terminals that allow the customer to complete their own purchasing transactions. The customer selects, scans, pays for, and bags their own items without the need for individual cashier assistance.

A member of staff is usually present at a nearby RAP station (Remote Attendant Program) to monitor all self-check out stations and to provide assistance where required, for example, with the purchase of age restricted items.


Shelf Edge Label. The traditional paper price tag found on shelves to provide product information.


Universal Product Code. It is a barcode standard used in the retail industry for scanning products at the point of sale. It is a 12-digit number that is unique to each product and is usually found on the product packaging or label. The UPC was adopted by America and became UPC-A still 12 digits while Europe adopted EAN which changed to 13 digits. UPC-A’s can be converted to EAN’s by adding a leading zero that makes them 13 digits long. A barcode scanner can be programmed to convert UPC-A to EAN.


Uninterruptible power supply. A back up battery that provides surge protection and short term emergency power should the main power source fail. Used with tills and PC’s to protect both equipment and data from damage by power surges, spikes, or blackouts.


Your bricks and mortar store, available as an online shop. Add products, information and pricing so that customers can browse and shop at their own leisure, any time. This can include a full order and delivery service, or click and collect in store only, using your existing stock file.


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Who are we?


Retail Solutions is a market-leading EPOS provider with over 25 years of business experience. Our leading sectors are convenience storessupermarketsforecourts, pharmacies and coffee shops.

We are dedicated to providing your store with the most up to date and reliable point of sale hardware, along with software management tools to help you manage your business effectively.

Our self-checkout partners are NCR, who are global leaders in self-checkout technology.


About the author:


Susan McGuire is originally from London, United Kingdom, and has now lived in Galway, Ireland, for 15 years. She has been with Retail Solutions for almost 7 of those, and during that time has enjoyed various roles within the areas of Maintenance, Finance, & Marketing. You can follow her on LinkedIn!


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