wireless point of sale (wireless POS or WPOS)

Wireless point of sale (wireless POS or WPOS) is the use of wireless devices in retail establishments to facilitate payment for products or services... (Continued)

Wireless point of sale (wireless POS or WPOS) is the use of wireless devices to facilitate payment for products or services. Typically, a WPOS system consists of a base station directly connected to a central network and one or more handheld devices that communicate wirelessly.

WPOS can streamline many processes, from buying food at a grocery store or restaurant to returning rental cars or paying taxicab fares. Systems may include the ability to consummate sales, record and track customer orders, process credit cards, connect to other systems in a network, and manage inventory. By enabling a vendor to make a transaction or adjust it anywhere within range of the wireless network, WPOS can confirm both a customer's ability to pay and ensure seamless delivery of the desired product or service. The technology can dramatically cut costs by:

  • Eliminating wait times for sales or service
  • Increasing the productivity of individual workers
  • Reducing the cost requirements posed by wired installations.

The most common vehicle for a wireless POS transaction is an RFID (radio-frequency identification) system that employs small transponders, also called tags, embedded in or attached to specific items. RFID systems use transmitters and receivers in the radio frequency (RF) portion of the electromagnetic spectrum to uniquely identify objects, animals, or people. RFID technology is coming into increasing use in industry as an alternative to the bar code system. Wi-Fi has also entered the marketplace as an alternative standard for WPOS, allowing for similar functions within existing networks.

This was first published in May 2007

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