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Point of sale

Time and place where a retail transaction is completed

This article is about checkout technology. For managed care, see point of service plan.

Points of sale at a Targetretail store

The point of sale (POS) or point of purchase (POP) is the time and place where a retail transaction is completed. At the point of sale, the merchant calculates the amount owed by the customer, indicates that amount, may prepare an invoice for the customer (which may be a cash register printout), and indicates the options for the customer to make payment. It is also the point at which a customer makes a payment to the merchant in exchange for goods or after provision of a service. After receiving payment, the merchant may issue a receipt for the transaction, which is usually printed but can also be dispensed with or sent electronically.[1][2][3]

To calculate the amount owed by a customer, the merchant may use various devices such as weighing scales, barcode scanners, and cash registers (or the more advanced "POS cash registers", which are sometimes also called "POS systems"[4][5]). To make a payment, payment terminals, touch screens, and other hardware and software options are available.

The point of sale is often referred to as the point of service because it is not just a point of sale but also a point of return or customer order. POS terminal software may also include features for additional functionality, such as inventory management, CRM, financials, or warehousing.

Businesses are increasingly adopting POS systems, and one of the most obvious and compelling reasons is that a POS system does away with the need for price tags. Selling prices are linked to the product code of an item when adding stock, so the cashier merely needs to scan this code to process a sale. If there is a price change, this can also be easily done through the inventory window. Other advantages include the ability to implement various types of discounts, a loyalty scheme for customers, and more efficient stock control, and these features are typical of almost all modern ePOS systems.


Retailers and marketers will often refer to the area around the checkout instead as the point of purchase (POP) when they are discussing it from the retailer's perspective. This is particularly the case when planning and designing the area as well as when considering a marketing strategy and offers.

Some point of sale vendors refer to their POS system as "retail management system" which is actually a more appropriate term given that this software is no longer just about processing sales but comes with many other capabilities such as inventory management, membership system, supplier record, bookkeeping, issuing of purchase orders, quotations and stock transfers, hide barcode label creation, sale reporting and in some cases remote outlets networking or linkage, to name some major ones.

Nevertheless, it is the term POS system rather than retail management system that is in vogue among both end-users and vendors.

The basic, fundamental definition of a POS System, is a system which allows the processing and recording of transactions between a company and their consumers, at the time in which goods and/or services are purchased.


Software before the 1990s[edit]

Early electronic cash registers (ECR) were controlled with proprietary software and were limited in function and communication capability. In August 1973, IBM released the IBM 3650 and 3660 store systems that were, in essence, a mainframe computer used as a store controller that could control up to 128 IBM 3653/3663 point of sale registers. This system was the first commercial use of client-server technology, peer-to-peer communications, local area network (LAN) simultaneous backup, and remote initialization. By mid-1974, it was installed in Pathmark stores in New Jersey and Dillard's department stores.

One of the first microprocessor-controlled cash register systems was built by William Brobeck and Associates in 1974, for McDonald's Restaurants.[6] It used the Intel 8008, a very early microprocessor (and forerunner to the Intel 8088 processor used in the original IBM Personal Computer). Each station in the restaurant had its own device which displayed the entire order for a customer — for example, [2] Vanilla Shake, [1] Large Fries, [3] BigMac — using numeric keys and a button for every menu item. By pressing the [Grill] button, a second or third order could be worked on while the first transaction was in progress. When the customer was ready to pay, the [Total] button would calculate the bill, including sales tax for almost any jurisdiction in the United States. This made it accurate for McDonald's and very convenient for the servers and provided the restaurant owner with a check on the amount that should be in the cash drawers. Up to eight devices were connected to one of two interconnected computers so that printed reports, prices, and taxes could be handled from any desired device by putting it into Manager Mode. In addition to the error-correcting memory, accuracy was enhanced by having three copies of all important data with many numbers stored only as multiples of 3. Should one computer fail, the other could handle the entire store.

In 1986, Gene Mosher introduced the first graphical point of sale software[7] featuring a touchscreen interface under the ViewTouch[8] trademark on the 16-bit Atari 520ST color computer.[9] It featured a color touchscreen widget-driven interface that allowed configuration of widgets representing menu items without low level programming.[10] The ViewTouch point of sale software was first demonstrated in public at Fall Comdex, 1986,[11] in Las Vegas Nevada to large crowds visiting the Atari Computer booth. This was the first commercially available POS system with a widget-driven color graphic touch screen interface and was installed in several restaurants in the US and Canada.

In 1986, IBM introduced its 468x series of POS equipment based on Digital Research's Concurrent DOS 286 and FlexOS 1.xx, a modular real-time multi-tasking multi-user operating system.

Modern software (post-1990s)[edit]

A wide range of POS applications have been developed on platforms such as Windows and Unix. The availability of local processing power, local data storage, networking, and graphical user interface made it possible to develop flexible and highly functional POS systems. Cost of such systems has also declined, as all the components can now be purchased off-the-shelf.

In 1993, IBM adopted FlexOS 2.32 as the basis of their IBM 4690 OS in their 469x series of POS terminals. This was developed up to 2014 when it was sold to Toshiba, who continued to support it up to at least 2017.

As far as computers are concerned, off-the-shelf versions are usually newer and hence more powerful than proprietary POS terminals. Custom modifications are added as needed. Other products, like touchscreen tablets and laptops, are readily available in the market, and they are more portable than traditional POS terminals. The only advantage of the latter is that they are typically built to withstand rough handling and spillages; a benefit for food & beverage businesses.

The key requirements that must be met by modern POS systems include high and consistent operating speed, reliability, ease of use, remote supportability, low cost, and rich functionality. Retailers can reasonably expect to acquire such systems (including hardware) for about $4000 US (as of 2009) per checkout lane.

Reliability depends not wholly on the developer but at times on the compatibility between a database and an OS version. For example, the widely used Microsoft Access database system had a compatibility issue when Windows XP machines were updated to a newer version of Windows. Microsoft offered no immediate solution. Some businesses were severely disrupted in the process, and many downgraded back to Windows XP for a quick resolution. Other companies utilized community support, for a registry tweak solution has been found for this.[12][unreliable source]

POS systems are one of the most complex software systems available because of the features that are required by different end-users. Many POS systems are software suites that include sale, inventory, stock counting, vendor ordering, customer loyalty and reporting modules. Sometimes purchase ordering, stock transferring, quotation issuing, barcode creating, bookkeeping or even accounting capabilities are included. Furthermore, each of these modules is interlinked if they are to serve their practical purpose and maximize their usability.

For instance, the sale window is immediately updated on a new member entry through the membership window because of this interlinking. Similarly, when a sale transaction is made, any purchase by a member is on record for the membership window to report providing information like payment type, goods purchased, date of purchase and points accumulated. Comprehensive analysis performed by a POS machine may need to process several qualities about a single product, like selling price, balance, average cost, quantity sold, description and department. Highly complex programming is involved (and possibly considerable computer resources) to generate such extensive analyses.

POS systems are designed not only to serve the retail, wholesale and hospitality industries as historically is the case. Nowadays POS systems are also used in goods and property leasing businesses, equipment repair shops, healthcare management, ticketing offices such as cinemas and sports facilities and many other operations where capabilities such as the following are required: processing monetary transactions, allocation and scheduling of facilities, keeping record and scheduling services rendered to customers, tracking of goods and processes (repair or manufacture), invoicing and tracking of debts and outstanding payments.

Different customers have different expectations within each trade. The reporting functionality alone is subject to so many demands, especially from those in the retail/wholesale industry. To cite special requirements, some business's goods may include perishables and hence the inventory system must be capable of prompting the admin and cashier on expiring or expired products. Some retail businesses require the system to store credit for their customers, credit which can be used subsequently to pay for goods. A few companies even expect the POS system to behave like a full-fledged inventory management system, including the ability to provide even FIFO (First In First Out) and LIFO (Last In First Out), reports of their goods for accounting and tax purposes.

In the hospitality industry, POS system capabilities can also diverge significantly. For instance, while a restaurant is typically concerned about how the sale window functions, whether it has functionality such as for creating item buttons, for various discounts, for adding a service charge, for holding of receipts, for queuing, for table service as well as for takeaways, merging and splitting of a receipt, these capabilities may yet be insufficient for a spa or slimming center which would require in addition a scheduling window with historical records of customers' attendance and their special requirements.

A POS system can be made to serve different purposes to different end-users depending on their business processes. Quite often an off-the-shelf POS system is inadequate for customers; some customization is required, and this is why a POS system can become very complex. The complexity of a mature POS system even extends to remote networking or interlinking between remote outlets and the HQ such that updating both ways is possible. Some POS systems offer the linking of web-based orders to their sale window. Even when local networking is only required (as in the case of a high-traffic supermarket), there is the ever-present challenge for the developer to keep most if not all of their POS stations running. This puts high demand not just on software coding but also designing the whole system covering how individual stations and the network work together, and special consideration for the performance capability and usage of databases. Due to such complexity, bugs and errors encountered in POS systems are frequent.[13]

With regards to databases, POS systems are very demanding on their performance because of numerous submissions and retrievals of data - required for correct sequencing the receipt number, checking up on various discounts, membership, calculating subtotal, so forth - just to process a single sale transaction. The immediacy required of the system on the sale window such as may be observed at a checkout counter in a supermarket also cannot be compromised. This places much stress on individual enterprise databases if there are just several tens of thousands of sale records in the database. Enterprise database Microsoft SQL Server, for example, has been known to freeze up (including the OS) entirely for many minutes under such conditions showing a "Timeout Expired" error message. Even a lighter database like Microsoft Access will slow to a crawl over time if the problem of database bloating is not foreseen and managed by the system automatically. Therefore, the need to do extensive testing, debugging and improvisation of solutions to preempt failure of a database before commercialization further complicates the development.

POS system accuracy is demanding, given that monetary transactions are involved continuously not only via the sale window but also at the back-end through the receiving and inputting of goods into the inventory. Calculations required are not always straightforward. There may be many discounts and deals that are unique to specific products, and the POS machine must quickly process the differences and the effect on pricing. There is much complexity in the programming of such operations, especially when no error in calculation can be allowed.

Other requirements include that the system must have functionality for membership discount and points accumulation/usage, quantity and promotional discounts, mix and match offers, cash rounding up, invoice/delivery-order issuance with outstanding amount. It should enable a user to adjust the inventory of each product based on physical count, track expiry of perishable goods, change pricing, provide audit trail when modification of inventory records is performed, be capable of multiple outlet functionality, control of stocks from HQ, doubling as an invoicing system, just to name some.

It is clear that POS system is a term that implies a wide range of capabilities depending on the end-user requirements. POS system review websites cannot be expected to cover most let alone all the features; in fact, unless one is a developer himself, it is unrealistic to expect the reviewer to know all the nuts and bolts of a POS system. For instance, a POS system might work smoothly on a test database during the review but not when the database grows significantly in size over months of usage. And this is only one among many hidden critical functionality issues of a POS system.

Hardware interface standardization (post-1980s)[edit]

Vendors and retailers are working to standardize development of computerized POS systems and simplify interconnecting POS devices. Two such initiatives were OPOS and JavaPOS, both of which conform to the UnifiedPOS standard led by The National Retail Foundation.

OPOS (OLE for POS) was the first commonly adopted standard and was created by Microsoft, NCR Corporation, Epson and Fujitsu-ICL. OPOS is a COM-based interface compatible with all COM-enabled programming languages for Microsoft Windows. OPOS was first released in 1996. JavaPOS was developed by Sun Microsystems, IBM, and NCR Corporation in 1997 and first released in 1999. JavaPOS is for Java what OPOS is for Windows, and thus largely platform independent.

There are several communication ways POS systems use to control peripherals such as:

  • Logic Controls \ BemaTech
  • Epson Esc/POS
  • UTC Standard
  • UTC Enhanced
  • ICD 2002
  • Ultimate
  • CD 5220
  • DSP-800
  • ADM 787/788
  • HP

There are also nearly as many proprietary protocols as there are companies making POS peripherals. Most POS peripherals, such as displays and printers, support several of these command protocols in order to work with many different brands of POS terminals and computers.

User interface design[edit]

The design of the sale window is the most important one for the user. This user interface is highly critical when compared to those in other software packages such as word editors or spreadsheet programs where the speed of navigation is not so crucial for business performance.

For businesses at prime locations where real estate comes at a premium, it can be common to see a queue of customers. The faster a sale is completed the shorter the queue time which improves customer satisfaction, and the less space it takes, which benefits shoppers and staff. High-traffic operations such as grocery outlets and cafes need to process sales quickly at the sales counter so the UI flow is often designed with as few popups or other interruptions to ensure the operator isn't distracted and the transaction can be processed as quickly as possible.

Although improving the ergonomics is possible, a clean, fast-paced look may come at the expense of sacrificing functions that are often wanted by end-users such as discounts, access to commission earned screens, membership and loyalty schemes can involve looking at a different function of the POS to ensure the point of sale screen contains only what a cashier needs at their disposal to serve customers.

Cloud-based (post-2000s)[edit]

The advent of cloud computing has given birth to the possibility of electronic point of sale (EPOS) systems[14] to be deployed as software as a service, which can be accessed directly from the Internet using any internet browser. Using the previous advances in the communication protocols for POS's control of hardware, cloud-based POS systems are independent from platform and operating system limitations. EPOS systems based in the cloud (most small-business POS today) are generally subscription-based, which includes ongoing customer support.[15]

Compared to regular cash registers (which tend to be significantly cheaper but only process sales and prints receipts), POS systems include automatic updating of the inventory library stock levels when you sell products, real-time reports accessible from a remote computer, staff timesheets and a customer library with loyalty features.[16][clarification needed][clarification needed]

Cloud-based POS systems are also created to be compatible with a wide range of POS hardware and sometimes tablets such as Apple's iPad. Thus cloud-based POS also helped expand POS systems to mobile devices, such as tablet computers or smartphones.[17]

These devices can also act as barcode readers using a built-in camera and as payment terminals using built-in NFC technology or an external payment card reader. A number of POS companies built their software specifically to be cloud-based. Other businesses who launched pre-2000s have since adapted their software to evolving technology.

Cloud-based POS systems are different from traditional POS largely because user data, including sales and inventory, are not stored locally, but in a remote server. The POS system is also not run locally, so there is no installation required.

Depending on the POS vendor and the terms of contract, compared to traditional on-premises POS installation, the software is more likely to be continually updated by the developer with more useful features and better performance in terms of computer resources at the remote server and in terms of lesser bugs and errors.

Other advantages of a cloud-based POS are instant centralization of data (important especially to chain stores), ability to access data from anywhere there is internet connection, and lower start-up costs.[18][19]

Cloud based POS requires an internet connection. For this reason it important to use a device with 3G connectivity in case the device's primary internet goes down. In addition to being significantly less expensive than traditional legacy point of sale systems, the real strength of a cloud based point of sale system is that there are developers all over the world creating software applications for cloud based POS. Cloud based POS systems are often described[by whom?] as future proof as new applications are constantly being conceived and built.

A number of noted emerging cloud-based POS systems came on the scene less than a decade or even half a decade back. These systems are usually designed for restaurants, small and medium-sized retail operations with fairly simple sale processes as can be culled from POS system review sites. It appears from such software reviews that enterprise-level cloud-based POS systems are currently lacking in the market. "Enterprise-level" here means that the inventory should be capable of handling a large number of records, such as required by grocery stores and supermarkets. It can also mean that the system—software and cloud server—must be capable of generating reports such as analytics of sale against inventory for both a single and multiple outlets that are interlinked for administration by the headquarters of the business operation.

POS vendors of such cloud based systems should also have a strong contingency plan for the breakdown of their remote server such as represented by fail-over server support. However, sometimes even a major data center can fail completely, such as in a fire.[20] On-premises installations are therefore sometimes seen alongside cloud-based implementation to preempt such incidents, especially for businesses with very high traffic. However the on-premises installations may not have the most up-to-date inventory and membership information.

For such contingency, a more innovative though highly complex approach for the developer is to have a trimmed down version of the POS system installed on the cashier computer at the outlet. On a daily basis the latest inventory and membership information from the remote server is automatically updated into the local database. Thus should the remote server fail, the cashier can switch over to the local sale window without disrupting sales. When the remote server is restored and the cashier switches over to the cloud system, the locally processed sale records are then automatically submitted to the remote system, thus maintaining the integrity of the remote database.

Although cloud-based POS systems save the end-user startup cost and technical challenges in maintaining an otherwise on-premises installation, there is a risk that should the cloud-based vendor close down it may result in more immediate termination of services for the end-user compared to the case of a traditional full on-premises POS system where it can still run without the vendor.

Another consideration is that a cloud-based POS system actually exposes business data to service providers - the hosting service company and the POS vendor which have access to both the application and database. The importance of securing critical business information such as supplier names, top selling items, customer relationship processes cannot be underestimated given that sometimes the few key success factors or trade secrets of a business are actually accessible through the POS system. This security and privacy concern is an ongoing issue in cloud computing.

Retail industry[edit]

Main article: Retail

The retail industry is one of the predominant users of POS terminals. A retail point of sale system typically includes a cash register (which in recent times comprises a computer, monitor, cash drawer, receipt printer, customer display and a barcode scanner) and the majority of retail POS systems[21] also include a debit/credit card reader. It can also include a conveyor belt, checkout divider, weight scale, integrated credit card processing system, a signature capture device and a customer pin pad device. While the system may include a keyboard and mouse, more and more POS monitors use touch-screen technology for ease of use, and a computer is built into the monitor chassis for what is referred to as an all-in-one unit. All-in-one POS units liberate counter space for the retailer. The POS system software can typically handle a myriad of customer based functions such as sales, returns, exchanges, layaways, gift cards, gift registries, customer loyalty programs, promotions, discounts and much more. POS software can also allow for functions such as pre-planned promotional sales, manufacturer coupon validation, foreign currency handling and multiple payment types.

The POS unit handles the sales to the consumer but it is only one part of the entire POS system used in a retail business. "Back-office" computers typically handle other functions of the POS system such as inventory control, purchasing, receiving and transferring of products to and from other locations. Other typical functions of a POS system are: store sales information for enabling customer returns, reporting purposes, sales trends and cost/price/profit analysis. Customer information may be stored for receivables management, marketing purposes and specific buying analysis. Many retail POS systems include an accounting interface that "feeds" sales and cost of goods information to independent accounting applications.

A multiple point of sale system used by big retailers like supermarkets and department stores has a far more demanding database and software architecture than that of a single station seen in small retail outlets. A supermarket with high traffic cannot afford a systemic failure, hence each point of sale station should not only be very robust both in terms of software, database and hardware specifications but also designed in such a way as to prevent causing a systemic failure - such as may happen through the use of a single central database for operations.

At the same time updating between multiple stations and the back end administrative computer should be capable of being efficiently performed, so that on one hand either at the start of the day or at any time each station will have the latest inventory to process all items for sale, while on the other hand at the end of the day the back end administrative computer can be updated in terms of all sale records.

This gets even more complicated when there is a membership system requiring real-time two-way updating of membership points between sale stations and the back end administrative computer.

Retail operations such as hardware stores (lumber yards), electronic stores and so-called multifaceted superstores need specialized additional features compared to other stores. POS software in these cases handles special orders, purchase orders, repair orders, service and rental programs as well as typical point of sale functions. Rugged hardware is required for point of sale systems used in outdoor environments. Wireless devices, battery powered devices, all-in-one units, and Internet-ready machines are typical in this industry.

Recently new applications have been introduced, enabling POS transactions to be conducted using mobile phones and tablets. According to a recent study, mobile POS (mPOS) terminals are expected to replace the contemporary payment techniques because of various features including mobility, upfront low cost investment and better user experience.[22]

In the mid-2000s, the blind community in the United States engaged in structured negotiations to ensure that retail point of sale devices had tactile keypads. Without keys that can be felt, a blind person cannot independently enter her or his PIN. In the mid-2000s retailers began using "flat screen" or "signature capture" devices that eliminated tactile keypads. Blind people were forced to share their confidential PIN with store clerks in order to use their debit and other PIN-based cards. The blind community reached agreement with Walmart, Target, CVS and eight other retailers that required real keys so blind people could use the devices.

Physical configuration[edit]

Early stores typically kept merchandise behind a counter. Staff would fetch items for customers to prevent the opportunity for theft and sales would be made at the same counter. Self-service grocery stores such as Piggly Wiggly, beginning in 1916, allowed customers to fetch their own items and pass the point of sale on the way to the exit.

Many stores have a number of checkout stations. Some stations may have an automated cashier (self-checkout). Express lanes might limit the type of payment, or number or type of goods, to expedite service. If each checkout station has a separate queue, customers have to guess which line will move the fastest, to minimize their wait times; they are often frustrated to be wrong or be stuck behind another customer who encounters a problem or who takes a long time to check out. Some stores use a single, much longer but faster-moving line, that is served by multiple registers, which produces the same average wait time, but reduces the frustration and variance in wait time from person to person.[23] Regardless of the configuration, checkout lines usually pass by impulse buy items to grab the attention of otherwise idle customers.

Hospitality industry[edit]

Main article: Hospitality industry

Hospitality point of sale systems are computerized systems incorporating registers, computers and peripheral equipment, usually on a computer network to be used in restaurants, hair salons or hotels. Like other point of sale systems, these systems keep track of sales, labor and payroll, and can generate records used in accounting and bookkeeping. They may be accessed remotely by restaurant corporate offices, troubleshooters and other authorized parties.

Point of sale systems have revolutionized the restaurant industry, particularly in the fast food sector. In the most recent technologies, registers are computers, sometimes with touch screens. The registers connect to a server, often referred to as a "store controller" or a "central control unit". Printers and monitors are also found on the network. Additionally, remote servers can connect to store networks and monitor sales and other store data.

Typical restaurant POS software is able to create and print guest checks, print orders to kitchens and bars for preparation, process credit cards and other payment cards, and run reports. In addition, some systems implement wireless pagers and electronic signature-capture devices.

In the fast food industry, displays may be at the front counter, or configured for drive-through or walk-through cashiering and order taking. Front counter registers allow taking and serving orders at the same terminal, while drive-through registers allow orders to be taken at one or more drive-through windows, to be cashiered and served at another. In addition to registers, drive-through and kitchen displays are used to view orders. Once orders appear they may be deleted or recalled by the touch interface or by bump bars. Drive-through systems are often enhanced by the use of drive-through wireless (or headset) intercoms. The efficiency of such systems has decreased service times and increased efficiency of orders.

Another innovation in technology for the restaurant industry is wireless POS. Many restaurants with high volume use wireless handheld POS to collect orders which are sent to a server. The server sends required information to the kitchen in real time. Wireless systems consist of drive-through microphones and speakers (often one speaker will serve both purposes), which are wired to a "base station" or "center module." This, in turn, will broadcast to headsets. Headsets may be an all-in-one headset or one connected to a belt pack.

In hotels, POS software allows for transfer of meal charges from dining room to guest room with a button or two. It may also need to be integrated with property management software.

Newer, more sophisticated systems are getting away from the central database "file server" type system and going to what is called a "cluster database". This eliminates any crashing or system downtime that can be associated with the back office file server. This technology allows 100% of the information to not only be stored, but also pulled from the local terminal, thus eliminating the need to rely on a separate server for the system to operate.

Tablet POS systems popular for retail solutions are now available for the restaurant industry. Initially these systems were not sophisticated and many of the early systems did not support a remote printer in the kitchen. Tablet systems today are being used in all types of restaurants including table service operations. Most tablet systems upload all information to the Internet so managers and owners can view reports from anywhere with a password and Internet connection. Smartphone Internet access has made alerts and reports from the POS very accessible. Tablets have helped create the Mobile POS system, and Mobile POS applications also include payments, loyalty, online ordering, table side ordering by staff and table top ordering by customers. Regarding the payments, mobile POS can accept all kinds of payment methods from contactless cards, EMV chip-enabled cards, and mobile NFC enabled cards.[24] Mobile POS (AKA mPOS) is growing quickly with new developers entering the market almost on a daily basis.

With the proliferation of low-priced touchscreen tablet computers, more and more restaurants have implemented self-ordering through tablet POS placed permanently on every table. Customers can browse through the menu on the tablet and place their orders which are then sent to the kitchen. Most restaurants that have iPad self-order menus include photos of the dishes so guests can easily choose what they want to order. This apparently improves service and saves manpower on the part of the restaurant. However this depends on how intelligently the system has been programmed to be.

As a case in point, some self-ordering systems not requiring staff assistance may not properly recognize a subsequent order from the same customer at a table. As a result, the customer is left waiting and wondering why his second order of food and drink is not being served.

Another example of how intelligent the system can be, is whether an order that has been placed but not yet been processed by the kitchen can be modified by the customer through the tablet POS. For such an unprocessed order the customer should be given the option to easily retrieve his order and modify it on the tablet POS. But when his order is being processed this function should then be automatically disabled.

Self-ordering systems are not always free completely from intervention by the staff and for some good reasons. For example, some restaurants require that items selected by the customers be attended to and can only be placed by the waiter who has the password required to do so. This prevents fake orders - such as may be entered by playful kids - and subsequent dispute on the items ordered. If alcoholic drinks are ordered, it also becomes necessary for the waiter to first verify the age of the customer before sending the order.

The technical specifications for implementing such self-ordering system are more demanding than a single cashier-controlled POS station. On the software and hardware side each tablet on a customer table has to be networked to the cashier POS station and the kitchen computer so that both are continually updated on orders placed. The common database that serves this network must also be capable of serving many concurrent users - cashier, customers, kitchen and perhaps even a drink bar.

It is therefore to be noted by developers that some databases like popularly used Microsoft Access may have the specifications that it is capable of usage by multiple concurrent users. However under the stress of a POS system, they can fail miserably resulting in constant errors and corruption of data.

POS systems are often designed for a variety of clients, and can be programmed by the end users to suit their needs. Some large clients write their own specifications for vendors to implement. In some cases, POS systems are sold and supported by third-party distributors, while in other cases they are sold and supported directly by the vendor.

The selection of a restaurant POS system is critical to the restaurant's daily operation and is a major investment that the restaurant's management and staff must live with for many years. The restaurant POS system interfaces with all phases of the restaurant operation and with everyone that is involved with the restaurant including guests, suppliers, employees, managers and owners. The selection of a restaurant POS system is a complex process that should be undertaken by the restaurant owner and not delegated to an employee. The purchase process can be summarized into three steps: Design, Compare and Negotiate. The Design step requires research to determine which restaurant POS features are needed for the restaurant operation. With this information the restaurant owner or manager can Compare various restaurant POS solutions to determine which POS systems meet their requirements. The final step is to Negotiate the price, payment terms, included training, initial warranty and ongoing support costs.[25]

Accounting forensics[edit]

Main article: Automated sales suppression device

POS systems record sales for business and tax purposes. Illegal software dubbed "zappers" can be used on POS devices to falsify these records with a view to evading the payment of taxes.

In some countries, legislation is being introduced to make cash register systems more secure. For example, the French treasury is estimated to be failing to collect approximately €14 billion of VAT revenue each year. The Finance Bill of 2016 is intended to address some of this loss by making it compulsory for taxpayers to operate on “secure systems”. Therefore, from 1 January 2018, all retail businesses in France are required to record customer payments using certified secure accounting software or cash register systems.

A certified cash register system must provide for the (i) incommutable, (ii) security and (iii) storage and archiving of data. All businesses required to comply must obtain a certificate from the cash register system provider which certifies that the system meets these requirements. This is because VAT taxpayers may need to provide a certificate to the tax authorities showing that their cash management system fulfills the new requirements.

If the business cannot provide this certificate to the tax authorities, they may be fined. And, if the tax authorities can demonstrate fraudulent use of the system, both the business and the software provider can face tax penalties, fines, and criminal sanctions. Certification can be obtained either from: a body accredited by the French Accreditation Committee (Comité français d’accréditation or COFRAC) or the software provider of the cash register system.


Despite the more advanced technology of a POS system as compared to a simple cash register, the POS system is still as vulnerable to employee theft through the sale window. A dishonest cashier at a retail outlet can collude with a friend who pretends to be just another customer. During checkout, the cashier can bypass scanning certain items or enter a lower quantity for some items thus profiting thereby from the "free" goods.

The ability of a POS system to void a closed sale receipt for refund purpose without needing a password from an authorized superior also represents a security loophole. Even a function to issue a receipt with a negative amount which can be useful under certain circumstances, can be exploited by a cashier to easily lift money from the cash drawer.

In order to prevent such employee theft, it is crucial for a POS system to provide an admin window for the boss or administrator to generate and inspect a daily list of sale receipts, especially pertaining to the frequency of cancelled receipts before completion, refunded receipts and negative receipts. This is one effective way to alert the company to any suspicious activity - such as a high number of cancelled sales by a certain cashier - that may be going on and to take monitoring action.

To further deter employee theft, the sale counter should also be equipped with a closed-circuit television camera pointed at the POS system to monitor and record all the activities.

At the back end, price and other changes like discounts to inventory items through the administration module should also be secured with passwords provided only to trusted administrators. Any changes made should also be logged and capable of being subsequently retrieved for inspection.

The sale records and inventory are highly important to the business because they provide very useful information to the company in terms of customer preferences, customer membership particulars, what are the top selling products, who are the vendors and what margins the company is getting from them, the company monthly total revenue and cost, just to name some.

It is therefore important that reports on these matters generated at the administrative back end be restricted only to trusted personnel. The database from which these reports are generated should also be secured via passwords or via encryption of data stored in the database so as to prevent them from being copied or tampered with.

Despite all such precautions and more, the POS system can never be entirely watertight in security from internal misuse if a clever but dishonest employee knows how to exploit many of its otherwise useful capabilities.

News reports on POS system hacking show that hackers are more interested in stealing credit card information than anything else. The ease and advantage offered by the ability of a POS system to integrate credit card processing thus have a downside. In 2011, hackers were able to steal credit card data from 80,000 customers because Subway's security and POS configuration standards for PCI Compliance - which governs credit card and debit card payment systems security - were "directly and blatantly disregarded" by Subway franchisees.[26]

In June 2016, several hundred of Wendy's fast food restaurants had their POS systems hacked by an illegally installed malware.[27] The report goes on to say that "the number of franchise restaurants impacted by these cyber security attacks is now expected to be considerably higher than the 300 restaurants already implicated" and that the "hackers made hundreds of thousands of fraudulent purchases on credit and debit cards issued by various financial institutions after breaching Wendy's computer systems late last year".

Again, these exploits by hackers could only be made possible because payment cards were processed through the POS system allowing the malware to either intercept card data during processing or steal and transmit unencrypted card data that is stored in the system database.

In April 2017, security researchers identified critical vulnerabilities in point of sale systems developed by SAP and Oracle [28] and commented, “POS systems are plagued by vulnerabilities, and incidents occurred because their security drawbacks came under the spotlight.”[29] If successfully exploited, these vulnerabilities provide a perpetrator with access to every legitimate function of the system, such as changing prices, and remotely starting and stopping terminals. To illustrate the attack vector, the researchers used the example of hacking POS to change the price of a MacBook to $1. The security issues were reported to the vendor, and a patch was released soon after the notification. Oracle confirmed[30] security bug affects over 300,000 Oracle POS Systems

In some countries, credit and debit cards are only processed via payment terminals. Thus one may see quite a number of such terminals for different cards cluttering up a sale counter. This inconvenience is however offset by the fact that credit and debit card data is far less vulnerable to hackers, unlike when payment cards are processed through the POS system where security is contingent upon the actions taken by end-users and developers.

With the launch of mobile payment particularly Android Pay and Apple Pay both in 2015, it is expected that because of its greater convenience coupled with good security features, this would eventually eclipse other types of payment services - including the use of payment terminals. However,for mobile payment to go fully mainstream, mobile devices like smartphones that are NFC-enabled must first become universal. This would be a matter of several years from the time of this writing (2017) as more and more models of new smartphones are expected to become NFC-enabled for such a purpose. For instance, iPhone 6 is fully NFC-enabled for mobile payment while iPhone 5 and older models are not. The aforesaid disastrous security risks connected with processing payment card usage through a POS system would then be greatly diminished.

See also[edit]


  1. ^"Paperless Receipt Solution (PRS) System". James Dyson Foundation. Retrieved August 9, 2015.
  2. ^"Electronic Transmission of Prescriptions". Business Services Authority. Retrieved August 9, 2015.
  3. ^"Tricks traders use to evade billions of francs in taxes". The New Times. Retrieved August 9, 2015.
  4. ^Cash register vs. POS system –what's the difference?
  5. ^How to Choose a POS Cash Register
  6. ^US patent 3946220, William M. Brobeck; John S. Givins Jr. & Philip F. Meads Jr. et al., "Point-of-sale system and apparatus", published 1976-03-23, assigned to Transactron, Inc. 
  7. ^"Graphical point of sale software introducer".
  8. ^"ViewTouch". ViewTouch. Retrieved 8 December 2012.
  9. ^Bisson, Gigi (2008-04-25). "Getting Down To Business". Retrieved 2013-07-12.
  10. ^The ViewTouch restaurant system by Giselle Bisson
  11. ^"File:Comdex 1986.png — Wikimedia Commons". Retrieved 2013-07-12.
  12. ^"Access 2007 very slow on Windows 7". Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  13. ^"15 ways a mobile point of sale can help your restaurant succeed — Poster". Retrieved 2018-12-28.
  14. ^EPOS term
  15. ^Cash register vs. POS system – what’s the difference?
  16. ^Cash register vs. POS system – what’s the difference?
  17. ^"Mobile Point-of-Sale Apps: Redefining the Retail Industry". Scandit. 10 May 2013. Retrieved 20 August 2015.
  18. ^The Online POS System Revolution via Small Business Bonfire
  19. ^"How Cloud-Based POS Works". Bluebird. Retrieved 28 February 2015.
  20. ^"Overheating brings down Microsoft data center". DatacenterDynamics. Retrieved 2016-04-14.
  21. ^"Aplikasi POS Kasir Online". Retrieved 2021-05-21.
  22. ^Securing Mobile Point of Sale System via Securebox
  23. ^"Planet Money Asks: What Small Thing Would You Do To Improve The World?". NPR. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  24. ^"mPOS

    Enterprise Browser Licensing


    Commercial deployment to devices requires an End-User License (also known as an "Activation ID" or AID) issued by Zebra Technologies for each device. Licenses are available for one-, three- and five-year terms, a 90-day trial period, or for perpetual usage. All license types permit an unlimited number of Enterprise Browser-based apps to run on each licensed device. This guide explains the process of obtaining an Enterprise Browser license for commercial use and applying the license(s) to individual devices or as part of a mass-deployment. A given license key can be activated on any number of devices up to the total quantity of licenses purchased, as explained below.

    Important Licensing Information

    • Licenses for Enterprise Browser 3.0.6 (and later) and the MDNA bundle can be activated using single Activation ID.
    • Enterprise Browser 3.0 and later supports term-based (subscription) licensing with one-, three- and five-year terms available for purchase. A 90-day trial term also is available (a 30-day evaluation term comes preinstalled with every EB 3.0 download).
    • An “unlicensed software” reminder appears on devices every four hours beginning one month before the end of all non-evaluation terms. After expiration, the prompt appears every five minutes until an EB license is applied.
    • Perpetual licenses remain in effect. Read more about perpetual licenses.
    • The Zebra PS20 includes Enterprise Browser 2.x preinstalled with a license that never expires.
    • Upgrading to Enterprise Browser 3.0 on the PS20 requires purchase of a new license. To upgrade, EB 3.x must be downloaded and installed separately and an EB 2.x or 3.x license purchased and applied.
    • Upgrading from EB 1.x to EB 2.0 (or higher) requires licenses on all devices to be converted to the new licensing model.
      Need help with license migration? See License Migration FAQs.
    • Only Android and Windows CE7 devices support cloud-based license deployment.
    • Windows CE6, Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5 and Windows Mobile devices can be licensed through a company's own Linux or Windows server or through use of a binary license file downloaded from the licensing portal.
    • Licensed apps running on EB 1.8 (and older) are unaffected; existing licenses remain valid.

    Also see the Zebra Licensing Portal for more information.

    NOTE: Date formats vary between the License Manager app (MM/DD/YY) and EB user interface (DD/MM/YYYY).


    ALL THREE of the following are required to activate EB license(s):

    1. One or more license keys (aka Activation IDs) purchased for EB 2.0 (or higher) software
    2. One or more supported Zebra device(s) with the correct License Manager app installed:
         Android: License Manager 3.1.1 or higher (pre-installed on supported devices)
         Windows MobileCE: License Manager 1.0 or higher (included with EB installer)
    3. One of the following server connections:
         An internet connection for online activation (Android and/or CE7 only) OR
         Linux or Windows server (for off-line activation of any supported device)

    NOTE: Only Android and Windows CE7 devices support license deployment from a cloud-based server. Windows CE6, Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5 and Windows Mobile devices must be licensed from an on-premise Linux or Windows server or through use of a binary license file downloaded from the licensing portal.

    Common Criteria

    Some Zebra devices are compatible with Common Criteria for IT Security Evaluation, a standard for certifying the security of computing devices and systems. When in the so-called "CC state" of heightened security, such Zebra mobile and touch computers are blocked from use of external storage and other features. Learn more.

    I. Contact a Reseller

    The first step in obtaining a license is to engage with Zebra or a Zebra reseller.

    1. Visit Zebra's Enterprise Browser Product Page and select one of the methods for contacting Zebra directly or engaging with a reseller or partner.

    2. Alternatively, select one of the following Zebra resources:

    II. Access Licensing System

    After a licensing agreement is purchased from Zebra or a Zebra reseller, an email is sent to the license requester containing user credentials for accessing the Zebra Enterprise Software Licensing system.

    Visit the Zebra licensing support page, register and log into the portal to:

    • Order licenses
    • Check status of existing orders
    • Assign licenses to devices or deployments
    • View inventory and assignments of current licenses

    Available License Types

    • Perpetual License (never expires)

    • Trial License (90-day evaluation period)

    • Term-based License:

      • 5-year term
      • 3-year term
      • 1-year term
    • NOTE: An “unlicensed software” reminder appears on devices every four hours beginning one month before the end of all non-evaluation terms. After expiration, the prompt appears every five minutes until an EB license is applied. A 30-day term is included with every EB download.

    About Perpetual Licenses

    • Upgrades to EB 3.x are provided at no charge for all EB 2.x perpetual licenses covered under an Active Zebra OneCare™ Software Maintenance Agreement.
    • The same Activation ID (license key) can be used for EB 2.x or EB 3.x (For EB 3.0, a new must be deployed).
    • Customers not under maintenance can purchase Zebra OneCare™ for their EB 2.x licenses and access EB 3.x software at no extra charge.
    • Customers purchasing a maintenance agreement for their perpetual EB 2.x license get access to the EB 3.x perpetual license through the Zebra Software Library portal.

    Common Criteria

    Some Zebra devices are compatible with Common Criteria for IT Security Evaluation, a standard for certifying the security of computing devices and systems. When in the so-called "CC state" of heightened security, such Zebra mobile and touch computers are blocked from use of external storage and other features. Learn more.

    III. Manually Assign License

    This section describes the process for activating a license on a single device running Android. To manually activate a license on a device running Windows Moblie/CE, see the Windows Mobile/CE section. To remotely activate multiple licenses for an entire organization, see the Mass Deployment section of this guide.

    License Source Types

    • Cloud-based server (internet connection required)
    • Local server (on customer premises)

    Connectivity Options

    • Production Cloud Direct - License Manager maps automatically to web-based Zebra Licensing Server to activate licenses; no server configuration required.
    • Production Cloud Through Proxy - License Manager maps automatically to web-based Zebra Licensing Server through customer's on-premise proxy server. Requires configuration of proxy server settings.
    • Custom Cloud - Reserved for future use.
    • Test Cloud Direct - For Zebra internal use only.
    • Test Cloud Through Proxy - For Zebra internal use only.


    • Confirm that the clock is set correctly on the device to ensure proper license-application behavior.
    • License-key barcodes are not provided by Zebra; they can be created by the licensee to ease the activation process. Keys also can be typed in manually.

    To activate a device license:

    1. Locate and launch the License Manager app: Click image to enlarge; ESC to exit.
    2. On launch, License Manager displays active licenses (if any).
      Tap the floating action button: Click image to enlarge; ESC to exit.
    3. When the Activation screen appears:
      1. Enter the license key (Activation ID): Click image to enlarge; ESC to exit.
      2. Tap "Select License Source"and select desired options.
      3. Tap SUBMIT button.
        If prompted to set device clock, Tap "Continue." The "Activation" screen reappears: Click image to enlarge; ESC to exit.
    4. Tap Activate.
      Click image to enlarge; ESC to exit.

    Successful license activation is indicated by a screen similar to the image below: Click image to enlarge; ESC to exit.

    The Android device is now licensed to use Enterprise Browser 2.x or later.

    Windows Mobile/CE Devices

    Zebra provides License Manager apps for its devices running Android and Windows Mobile/CE. License Manager 1.0 (or higher) is required for licensing Windows Mobile/CE devices, and is included with the Microsoft Installer (MSI) file (when installing from Windows) and as a file when installing from macOS.

    Zebra recommends using StageNow to generate XML files required for this process. Download StageNow, a free desktop tool for Windows.

    To activate a license on a device running Windows Mobile/CE:

    1. Push the XML file required for license activation to the device.

    2. Locate and launch License Manager on the device.
      Current licenses on the device (if any) are shown along with a series of buttons: Click image to enlarge; ESC to exit.Details - displays information about selected license.
      Refresh - contacts the licensing server to renew a device license following the purchase of a license renewal.
      Button functions:
      Return - relinquishes the selected license.
      Add License - begins the license activation process.
      Settings - displays the License Manager Settings panel.

    3. Tap "Add License" button. "About License Manager" screen appears.
      Tap "License Source" button.
      Click image to enlarge; ESC to exit.

    4. Select "Production Cloud Direct" from the server list. Click image to enlarge; ESC to exit.Details - displays information about the selected licensing server.
      Delete - removes a user-defined licensing server (none shown).

    5. Using an EMM system, launch License Manager with command line arguments similar to those shown. This example was tested using SOTI Mobi control.

    6. Following the operation, a file is placed in the same location as the source XML file.


    The following XML file selects the cloud-based Zebra Licensing Server as the license source.

    Off-line Licensing

    License Manager provides a Local License Server option, enabling organizations to employ an on-premise server to distribute licenses to devices without access to the internet. This option requires software installed on a company's own IP-based Linux or Windows server in advance of license distribution to devices.

    For more information, including hardware requirements and setup instructions, download the appropriate Local License Server Administration Guide from the Zebra License Management support portal page.

    Also see the License Manager User Guide.

    • To use StageNow to persist license keys on the device following an Enterprise Reset:
      • All License Manager and Persist Manager steps MUST be stored in a SINGLE PROFILE.
      • WLAN settings MUST be configured BEFORE license activation steps in the Profile.
      • Keys MUST be stored in thefolder on the device.

    From a Local Server

    Before Beginning

    • Install and configure Local License Server according to the relevant admin guide.
    • Acquire a file containing licenses (Activation IDs) from Zebra License Server for all devices to be licensed.
    • Ensure target devices are connected to the Local Licensing Server.

    To install licenses from a local server:

    1. In the Licensing app, select Local Server from the License Source drop-down.
      A screen appears as below: Click image to enlarge; ESC to exit.
    2. Enter the server URL, provide a name and tap SUBMIT.
    3. Enter or scan the license key for the device.
      Then Tap Activate. Click image to enlarge; ESC to exit.

    Successful license activation is indicated by a screen similar to the image below:

    Click image to enlarge; ESC to exit.

    From Preactivated License Keys

    • Preactivated licenses are valid only on the day they are generated.
    • If multiple preactivated licenses are generated, they must be applied in the same order as generated.
    • Preactivated licenses must be applied before all other license actions.
    • If combining the application of Activation IDs and preactivated licenses in the same configuration Profile, preactivated licenses must be applied first.

    Before Beginning

    • Acquire a file containing licenses (Activation IDs) from Zebra License Server for all devices to be licensed.

    To install licenses from preactivated keys

    1. Push preactivated license keys (as files) to device(s).
    2. In the Licensing app, select Preactivated from the License Source drop-down.
      Click image to enlarge; ESC to exit.
    3. Navigate to the file on the device, select it and tap ACTIVATE.
      Click image to enlarge; ESC to exit.
    4. Confirm successful license activation by a screen similar to the image below: Click image to enlarge; ESC to exit.

    The device is now licensed to use Enterprise Browser.

    Mass Deployment

    Mass-deployment of Enterprise Browser device licenses requires use of an Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) system and/or Zebra StageNow tools and its License Manager Setting Type.

    • The procedures described below include only those for deploying and activating licenses for EB 2.0 (or later). They DO NOT include the purchase process for license activation IDs nor configuration of the network and device clock settings, which are required to download the app and properly apply the license(s).
    • To set license keys to remain on the device following an Enterprise Reset, keys MUST be stored in the folder on the device and in a single Profile activated using License Manager and preserved using Persist Manager.


    • Profiles for correctly configuring device clock and network settings
    • Software License key(s) (aka Activation IDs)
    • All necessary EB 2.x application (binary) files

    Zebra recommends testing any new Profile on a working device before general deployment.

    To create the licensing portion of a StageNow Profile:

    1. Launch StageNow and select “Create new Profile" from the left-hand pane.
      The "Select a Wizard" dialog box appears.

    2. Select MX version to match device, click "Xpert Mode" and click the "Create" button.

    3. Enter a Profile name and click "Start" button.

    4. Single-click LicenseMgr (scroll down if necessary); then click "Update" button.

    5. Under "License action type:" select “Perform Zebra license action.” Additional options appear: Click image to enlarge; ESC to exit.

    6. Set the parameters as required to activate the license:
      a. For cloud-based licensing:
      Zebra recommends this option for the best device visibility from the licensing portal:

      • Zebra license action: Activate AID -> select "Use one of the Zebra Licensing cloud options"
      • Cloud Source: "Use the Zebra licensing Production Cloud"
      • Enter the AID and quantity. Select "Continue"

      b. For local (on-premise) licensing:
      Best for fire-walled networks or those lacking internet access:

      • Zebra license action: Activate AID -> select "Use a local license server option"
      • Enter the URL, friendly name, AID and quantity
      • Select Continue
    7. To persist license key(s) on the device following an Enterprise Reset:
      a. Download(†) and save key(s) as file(s) to folder on the device
      b. From a single Profile:

      • Activate key(s) using License Manager (licensing method="reference a preactivated license file already on the mobile device")
      • Preserve settings using Persist Manager
    8. Complete Profile creation and scan the staging barcode

    9. Confirm that the Profile successfully licensed the device:
      a. Launch the License Manager app on the device; activated license should be visible
      b. Alternatively, launch EB 2.0 on the device and view licensing status on splash screen
      c. Quantity of available licenses visible on the licensing portal should decrease by the number of licenses deployed. A list of device IDs also is visible there

    (†) To download a License key as a file from the Zebra Licensing Portal, select "Download Capability Response" from the Device Action menu. Each file contains a license for a specific device.

    Also see related guides.

    License Transfer

    Enterprise Browser supports the transfer of licenses from one device to another if the device licenses were originally activated using a cloud-based or local licensing server. This is done by returning the activated license(s) to the pool (using License Action "Return") and activating them on new device(s).

    See the License Manager section of Zebra's StageNow tool for details.


    On Android devices, License Manager activities are captured in adb and RXLogger log files.

    On Windows Mobile/CE devices, License Manager activities are written to in the app's install directory.

    Notes and FAQ

    The following notes are derived from frequently asked questions about device licensing and apply to most licensing scenarios.

    • Licenses erased by a Factory Reset can be reissued to the same device(s) using the same StageNow Profile and the same License Source (i.e. cloud-based or local server).
    • When ordering additional unit entitlements for an existing site license, include the Activation ID with the order to ensure that the same EMM policy can be used for the additional devices.
    • The fastest way to deploy a trial license on a device is by using the License Manager app and the manual license assignment procedures above.
    • Device licenses can be activated using:

    Related Guides


    Meraki Co-Termination Licensing Overview

    1. Last updated
    2. Save as PDF

    All current Cisco Meraki products require valid licensing to operate. This article describes how Cisco Meraki Co-Termination licensing operates and applies to an organization. All licensing-related operations can be performed from the Organization > Configure > License Info page.

    For more information about the License Info page specifically, please refer to our License Info Page article. 


    The Cisco Meraki Co-Termination licensing model works on the basis of co-termination, which means that for any given organization, regardless of how many licenses were applied or when they were applied, the license expiration date for all licenses claimed to that organization will be exactly the same. This is accomplished by averaging all active licenses together and dividing by the license limit count of devices in the organization.


    For example, suppose an organization had two separate Enterprise AP licenses, one license for 2x APs spanning one year (365 days) and another for 1x AP spanning five years (1,825 days). The co-termination value would be calculated as ((1825*1)+(365*2))/3= 851 days total for all three APs. So assuming all three licenses were applied on the same day, the organization would have a co-term date of 851 days from the start date of the licenses.

    If the licenses were not applied at the same time, for example if the five-year license was applied halfway through the one-year license, the co-term calculation will take that into effect. In this case, the calculation would be ((1825*1)+(182*2))/3=730 days total for all three APs.

    Note: The organization co-terminationdate does not depend on the current device count, but rather the license limit. Removing devices from a network or organization will not impact the co-termination date.


    To calculate how licenses impact each other in an organization, check out the License Calculator. To see a more detailed explanation and the exact calculations that are used to determine co-term dates, please refer to our detailed co-term explanation page.

    License Start Date

    Licenses in the Co-Termination model start consuming time from the date purchased, not the date they are added to an organization.

    Note: Waiting to activate a license in the dashboard does not delay its activation date. There is no time benefit gained from delaying an activation.

    Device types

    Licenses are sold based on the specific model of device, so for example, an MS220-24 will require a separate license from an MS220-8. This applies even to PoE vs. non-PoE versions of devices and wireless vs. non-wireless versions for MX devices. For example, an MS220-8 will require a different license than an MS220-8P, and an MX64 license will not work for an MX64W.

    Organization-Wide Licensing

    Cisco Meraki licensing is applied on an organization-wide basis. This means that a license isn't purchased for a specific serial number or device, rather each license added to the organization increases the number of a specific device type (the license limit) that can be added to networks within the organization.

    The 30-Day Grace Period 

    The number of devices in an organization can not exceed the license limits. If this occurs, the organization will enter a 30-day grace period, during which the organization must be brought back into compliance, otherwise it will be shut downuntil proper licensing is applied to the organization. 

    Note: During the grace period, network clients will not see a difference.

    Should an organization enter the 30-day grace periodbecause of exceeding device license limits,it can be brought back into compliance either by removing devices from networks within the organization or through purchasing additional licensing. The only other time an organization will enter this 30-day grace periodwould be if its licensing has expired by passing the co-termdate. If this occurs, the only way to bring it back into licensing compliance is through the purchase of additional licensing.
    For example, if an AP is added to an organization that already has five APs and licensing for ten APs, no additional licensing is required because the organization's license limitis higher than the number of APs in the organization. But if an MX series security appliance was added to the same organization, it would enter the 30-day grace periodbecause the organization is not licensed for MX security appliances. For more information about the 30-day grace period, read the License Limit and Current Device Count section of this article or refer to the License Info article.

    License Limit and Current Device Count

    The image below shows an example License Limit and Current Device Count table for an Organization. Notice how each hardware model has it's own individual License Limit and Current Device Count. Each column is explained in more detail below.


    License Limit

    The License Limit is defined by the sum of the device count for all currently active licenses applied to an Organization. Licenses that have been Invalidated or were applied prior to the most recent Renewal operation will not be counted when calculating the License Limit. For example, if an Organization has three active licenses, one license for 1x MX65, one license for 2x MR devices, and one license for 1x MS220-8P and 1x MR device, the total License Limit for that Organization would be 1x MX65, 1x MS220-8P, and 3x MR devices. 

    Current Device Count

    The Current Device Count column lists the total number of each type of device that is currently added to any network inside the Organization. Devices that are claimed to the Organization Inventory but not added to any Networks will not count towards the Current Device Count. For example, if one network has 1x MX65 and 2x MR33, and a second network has 1x MS220-8P and 1x MR52, the Current Device Count for that Organization would be 1x MX65, 1x MS220-8P, and 3x APs.

    Note: All MR and MV series devices are grouped under the same respective licensing group. So an MR18 will require the same license as an MR72 and both will count equally toward the total device count of MR devices.


    The Current Device Count does not impact the Co-Term date of an Organization, the Co-term date is instead calculated based on the License Limit of the Organization. Because of this, adding or removing devices from networks will not affect the Co-term date of the Organization except in situations where adding a device will put the Organization outside of its License Limit and invoke the 30 day Grace Period. In this situation, either removing the device(s) from the Network(s) or adding the required licensing prior to the end of the 30 day Grace Period will put the Organization back into compliance. If new licensing is added, the Co-term date will be updated to reflect this change. If no new licensing is added then the Co-term date should remain unchanged. 


    Licensing Options

    MR Licensing Options

    The MR access points only have one license type, a general "wireless AP" license. This license can apply to any Meraki access point, so long as there is one license for every AP in the account. For example, a network containing 2x MR18s and 1x MR32 will require licensing for 3x APs.

    MS Licensing Options

    Classic MS switches have licenses on a per-model basis, so every MS model has a corresponding license. Please note that these licenses are non-transferrable between switch models. For example, an MS220-48 switch will not be covered by an MS320-48 license; it will require an MS220-48 license.

    MS390 Licensing Options

    MS390 license structure includes two feature tiers:  Enterprise and Advanced. The MS390 also introduces a new and simpler license to hardware mapping, specifically 24-port or 48-port licenses. As with all MS, every MS390 license is available in 1, 3, 5, 7, and 10 year terms.


    MS390 License Structure24-Port Model48-port Model
    Advanced FeaturesLIC-MS390-24ALIC-MS390-48A
    Enterprise FeaturesLIC-MS390-24ELIC-MS390-48E

    The features available with advanced licensing are: 

    • Adaptive policy *
    • Greater than 1,000 routes for OSPF

    * Available in a future software release

    In the Co-term licensing model (most existing Organizations), an Organization must either have all MS390 Enterprise or all MS390 Advanced licenses - they cannot be mixed. In the Per-device licensing model, a mix of Enterprise and Advanced can be added to a single Organization, but certain features may require all devices in a Network to have Advanced licenses, e.g. Adaptive Policy.

    For more information on licensing, refer to Meraki Licensing Models article.

    MX Licensing Options

    The MX security appliances have licenses on a per-model basis, so every MX model has a corresponding license. Please note that these licenses are non-transferrable between appliance models. For example, an MX64 will not be covered by an MX84 license; it will require an MX64 license.

    The MX security appliance has multiple license editions: Enterprise, Advanced Security, and Secure SD-WAN Plus. Please note that the MX licensing edition is uniform across the organization. For example, you can have all 25 appliances using Enterprise Edition or Advanced Security Edition or Secure SD-WAN Plus Edition, but you cannot have 20 appliances using one edition and five using the other edition. If you wish to use Enterprise Edition for some appliances and Advanced Security Edition for other appliances, you need to create two organizations, one for your appliances with the Enterprise Edition, and another for the appliances with the Advanced Security Edition. Similar concept appliance for Secure SD-WAN Plus Edition as well.


    For additional information and feature details, please refer to the MX Security and SD-WAN Licensing article.

    SM Licensing Options

    Meraki Systems Manager has only one license type, which is used for all managed clients in SM regardless of operating system type. Licenses need to be available for devices to enroll into your network. 

    Please refer to our documentation for more information on Systems Manager Licensing.

    Managing Licenses

    Adding New Licenses

    From the Organization > Configure > License Info page, the Add another license link allows organization administrators to add additional licensing to their organization. This can be done to either increase the total number of devices licensed to the organization or to renew the existing licensing for all devices in the organization. Adding additional licensing to an organization is a simple five-step process, outlined below.

    1. Click Add another license.
    2. Choose either License more devices or Renew my Dashboard license.
    3. Enter the 12-digit license key you would like to claim.
    4. Click Add license.
    5. Review the changes on the License Info Preview Page.
    6. Fill in the box next to Enter the new license expiration to confirm this addition with the expiration date seen above (otherwise the Add license button will be greyed out).
    7. Click Add license again to finish claiming the license.



    Note: Claiming a new license with the claim type of License more devices will simply add the new license count to the existing license limit of the organization and alter the co-term date appropriately.

    Warning: Claiming a new license with the claim type of Renew my Dashboard license will invalidate any previouslicense limit counts and force the organization license limit to match only licenses applied during or after the most recent renewal action, in addition to altering the co-term date for the organization. 

    Renewing Your Dashboard Licensing

    When a license key is applied using the Renew my Dashboard license operation, the organization’s licensing state updates to exactly match the device count of that license key, and any remaining time from previous licenses is kept and added to the new co-term date. For example, if an organization with licensing for 5x APs were to have a 2x AP, three-year license applied as a renewal, that organization would only be licensed for 2x APs for three years, plus the remaining time from prior to the renewal. In this instance, the organization would be 3x APs over the license limit, and therefore out of compliance.

    Note: The recommended practice for applying a renewal is to purchase a single license key that covers all devices currently in the organization for X number of years. Applying that license key as a renewal will then extend the organization’s co-termdate by that many years while keeping the same license limitfor devices.


    Even if the organization is in compliance, (co-term date has not passed and the organization has not yet expired or been shut down,) the renewal license should still be applied immediately because the time on the license starts counting down from the date purchased.

    Warning: Holding onto a license does not delay its activation date. There is no time benefit gained from delaying a renewal.

    Moving Licenses

    A co-term license can be requested to be moved between organizations. Only organization administrators have permission to request licenses moves and are required to have access to both organizations. 

    Moving co-term licenses can only be done by Meraki Support. Please call or open a case to move licenses.

    NOTE: Co-term licenses cannot be moved to per-device licensing (PDL) organizations.

    License Conversion

    The following list reflects all supported license model conversions by Meraki Support in a co-term org. These license conversions are not supported in a per-device licensing org. If you have received a different model device as the result of a device-RMA, we can update the license to reflect that change. Licenses can also be converted if the request is a valid conversion from the list below and the license key is outside the 30-day license-RMA window. 

    These are the supported conversions:

    • MX60/W → MX64/W (MX65 conversions NOT allowed)

    • MX64/W → MX60/W

    • MX65W/64W/60W → MX65/64/60

    • MX65/64/60 → MX65W/64W/60W (MX65 to MX65W, MX64 to MX64W and MX60 to MX60W are only allowed)

    • MX64/W → MX67/W

    • MX65/W → MX68/W

    • MX80 → MX84

    • MX84 → MX80

    • MX84 → MX85

    • MX90 → MX100

    • MX100 → MX95

    • Z1 → Z3

    • vMX-100 → vMX-M

    NOTE: Keys that fall within the 30-day RMA window MUST be RMAd and repurchased. There is no exception to this. 

    License RMAs can be submitted at in an incognito/private browser window.

    Removing and Undoing License Claims

    There are a number of licensing issues that are caused by misapplication of a single license key. If a license has been applied incorrectly, the undo license claim tool can be used to remove the license so it can be re-added correctly.

    This article will explain how to remove licenses from organizations, using the undo license claim tool.

    Use Cases

    There are two common situations where a license application can cause problems on an organization:

    • License was applied to the wrong organization.
      A license may have accidentally been applied to the incorrect organization. The undo license claim tool will release the license so it can be applied to the correct organization.
    • License was incorrectly applied as a renewal or add devices.
      When a license key is applied to an organization, there are two options for the license type: Renewal or add devices. Applying a license as the incorrect type will have an undesired effect on the organization's licensing, and will likely take the organization out of compliance. The undo license claim tool can be used to remove the license, so it can be reapplied correctly.
      For more information on different ways to apply licenses, please refer to our documentation regarding Licensing Guidelines and Limitations.

    Using the Undo License Tool

    The undo license claim button will only be available within 7 days of the license application. For issues with older licenses, please follow these steps:

    1. Make sure you are a full organization administrator on both organizations. If not, this process will need to be followed by another admin.
    2. Contact Meraki Support via phone or email with the following information:
      • Your support passcodes for both the source and destination organizations.
      • The URL for both organizations License Info pages.
      • The license key to be transferred and the device models and the number of devices that need to be moved to the new organization.


    The following steps explain how to undo a license application:

    1. In Dashboard, navigate to Organization > Configure > License info.
    2. Click the undo button next to the license in question:
    3. Review the confirmation window that pops up. If you are sure this is the correct license to remove, click Yes:


    Upon confirming the change and closing the pop-up, the organization will be reverted to the previous licensing state. The original license will be invalidated, so a replacement key will be generated. The new license key can then be re-applied or added to another organization for the remaining license term. The new license key can also be found under Organization > Change log.

    Out-of-Licensing Compliance Warnings and Solutions

    Cisco Meraki devices use the Cisco Meraki cloud for centralized management and control. The Cisco Meraki cloud is licensed on a “per device, per year” basis. Each organization is licensed for a certain number of devices through a termination date. When out of compliance, due to expiration of licenses or insufficient device counts, you will be notified by e-mail.

    This e-mail will begin with "Thank you for being a valued Cisco Meraki customer. Our records show that your organization is over the device limit for your Cisco Meraki Cloud license."

    To see the current status of your licensing, login to Dashboard and go to Organization > License info. This page will include information about your licensing status, MX Advanced Security features (if applicable), license expiration date, and details of your current and licensed device counts. Points where you are out of compliance will be indicated in red. To return your organization to a compliant status, you will need to purchase the appropriate licensing. 

    For more information about Cisco Meraki licensing, please review the Licensing FAQ.

    To purchase licensing, contact your Cisco Meraki account executive, or visit Sales Contacts.

    Out of Compliance Examples

    Over Device Limit

    In this case, the organization has one additional MS220-8P device in a network than they are licensed for, and would need to purchase the necessary license in order to achieve compliance. 


    Since devices that are not in a network do not count towards the device count, the MS220-8P can be removed from its network and left in the organization inventory until additional licensing is added.

    Licensing Expired

    In this case, licensing for the organization expired on May 11th. The licenses would need to be renewed, or new licenses purchased in order to return to a compliant state. 

    Licensing Expired & Network Shutdown

    In this case, licensing for the organization expired and the organization has been shutdown. This will not occur until after the 30 day grace period, and may also occur if the organization has been in excess of the licensed device count.

    Compliant Licensing

    In this case, the organization has more device licenses than they have devices and their licensing will expire in 899 days.


    B2B eCommerce Platform

    A Few Words From Our Clients

    Cornelius Munz   Digital Solution Engineer

    Here at Bosch Thermotechnik we were looking for a 100% customizable .NET eCommerce platform with superior support options. We had an objective of launching a marketplace loyalty platform that will function smoothly in 25 countries. Eventually, by choosing Virto Commerce we successfully launched the platform, our clientele has become more engaged, and we have increased the turnover. 

    — Cornelius Munz   Digital Solution Engineer

    Richard Birksteiner

    The value of the Virto Commerce scalable platform has been huge for us as a partner, specifically in enabling us to craft a flexible B2B solution without short- and long-term limitations. Virto Commerce has been a great partner for us because they are ready to deliver all B2B scenarios and out-of-the-box technologies that we need.

    — Richard Birksteiner
    Chief Technology Officer, rb2

    Andreas Kardell

    We only adopt technologies that easily enable new business channels, flexibly customize product catalogs, and accurately track overall sales performance and Virto Commerce solves all of these.

    — Andreas Kardell CTO at

    Michael Theebe

    Virto Commerce was the best fit for De Klok Dranken as it combined cost-effectiveness with the functionality, flexibility, and scalability – today and in the long term.

    — Michael Theebe Marketing and ecommerce Manager at De Klok Dranken

    Isaac Barnes

    We chose Virto Commerce for the Executive Office of the US Government supply chain solution because it is the only platform that could meet our business user requirements to provide the modern ecommerce shopping experience we wanted, as well as the technical requirements of being customizable, flexible, secure, open source and built on a Microsoft .NET technology stack.

    — Isaac Barnes Vice President, Eminent IT

    Group CTO for

    Thanks to its headless architecture and next-generation features, Virto Commerce has helped us completely rebuild our marketplace solution. Our Virto Commerce Catalog now covers all our complex marketplace scenarios and has materially increased end User eXperience, unlocked new revenue and decreased maintenance cost. Using GraphQL and Elastic Search is just awesome!

    — Philippe Stephan Group CTO for

    Stijn De Vos Lead Expert at delaware

    Delaware partnered with Virto Commerce in order to ensure true scalability for our client Standaard Boekhandel. We have easily extended the product offering and improved the search functionality for their two brands. In short, we found a .NET eCommerce platform that is capable of processing a product catalog of over 15 million products and customer orders in 207 fulfillment centers without any hurdle.

     — Stijn De Vos  Lead Expert at delaware

    Want a quick demo?

    Let's talk:

    Adam Willmouth, Sales Director, America

    Alain Van Hove, Sales Director, EMEA


    About Cryptolens

    Cryptolens is a cloud-based licensing as a service (LaaS) platform, which helps organizations manage licenses for mobile and desktop applications, embedded systems and plug-ins. Features include offline activation, price optimization, reseller portals, template management. The application allows administrators to implement various licensing models such as subscription, perpetual, pay-per-use or floating, restrict feature usage for specific members and monitor the expiration date. The AI-based platform enables businesses to define the value of product for each customer. Cryptolens includes a messaging API, which helps broadcast messages across systems and notify about new updates. With its analytics module, administrators can determine application usage and detect unauthenticated users in real-time. Cryptolens offers integration with various third-party platforms such as Stripe, Sendowl and PayPal. Pricing is based on actual usage computed on a monthly basis and support is provided via email and documentation.

    Cryptolens pricing

    Cryptolens does not have a free version but does offer a free trial. Cryptolens paid version starts at USD 10.00/month.

    Starting Price:

    USD 10.00/month

    Pricing Details:

    The pricing model is based on actual usage computed monthly.

    Alternatives to Cryptolens

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    Cryptolens Reviews

    1 review View all reviews

    • Industry: Information Technology & Services
    • Company size: 11-50 Employees
    • Used Weekly for 2+ years
    • Review Source

    Amazing license management tool

    We have an on premise email parsing assembly that needed licensing wrapped around it. We thought about doing it ourselves but that seemed really messy and error prone. It took about a week of development to get Cyrptolens fully integrated into our build process and our code base but it has been a huge time saver for us. When we have customers who need to purchase we just direct them to our Cryptolens portal where the person can setup an account and purchase and get their license key.


    - Super simple setup.
    - Great documentation.
    - Support has been amazing.
    - Great billing software integration with Stripe.
    - Good .NET support
    - Portal for customers to purchase from simplifies license management a lot


    - The .NET nuget package from Cryptolens isn't obfuscated so we had to handle that ourselves.

    Response from Cryptolens

    Thank you so much for your feedback, Paul!

    Replied 13/04/2021

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    Market-Inspector". (in Danish). Retrieved 2016-05-03.
  25. ^Frazier, Bob (October 16, 2013). "Restaurant POS 3-Step Purchase Process". Newswire. Retrieved February 15, 2014.
  26. ^"How hackers gave Subway a $3 million lesson in point-of-sale security". Ars Technica. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  27. ^Seals, Tara (13 June 2016). "Wendy's Point of Sale Hack Grows Bigger". Infosecurity. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  28. ^"SAP point-of-sale systems were totally hackable with $25 kit". The Register. 29 August 2017.
  29. ^"SAP POS Flaw Allows Hackers to Change Pricing". Infosecurity. 25 August 2017.
  30. ^"Security Bug Affects Over 300,000 Oracle POS Systems". Catalin Cimpanu. 31 January 2018. Retrieved 31 January 2018 – via BleepingComputer.

External links[edit]

Market-Inspector". (in Danish). Retrieved 2016-05-03.
  • ^Frazier, Bob (October 16, 2013). "Restaurant POS 3-Step Purchase Process". Newswire. Retrieved February 15, 2014.
  • ^"How hackers gave Subway a $3 million lesson in point-of-sale security". Ars Technica. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  • ^Seals, Tara (13 June 2016). "Wendy's Point of Sale Hack Grows Bigger". Infosecurity. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  • ^"SAP point-of-sale systems were totally hackable with $25 kit". The Register. 29 August 2017.
  • ^"SAP POS Flaw Allows Hackers to Change Pricing". Infosecurity. 25 August 2017.
  • ^"Security Bug Affects Over 300,000 Oracle POS Systems". Catalin Cimpanu. 31 January 2018. Retrieved 31 January 2018 – total network inventory demo - Activators Patch BleepingComputer.
  • External links[edit]