What is a point of sale (POS)?

Generally speaking, a point of sale is any place where a transaction concerning the sale of goods or services takes place. This can be anything from your local corner store to a fancy restaurant or a food truck. Point of sale usually involves a cash register of some sort and a receipt for the payment, although the laws and regulations differ significantly across various countries. 

Two types of point of sales

There are 2 point of sale types:

  • On-trade point of sale: Places where you order a food or drink to eat on location or for a takeaway. Typically a restaurant, pub, bar, club, café, bistro, office canteen etc. At these points of sales customers mostly sit down and enjoy their meal or drink on site instead of taking it home which means these outlets not only need a great product portfolio, but also have to create a great atmosphere for the customers.
  • Off-trade point of sale: Places where you buy goods to use or consume at someplace else. Typically a grocery or convenience store, supermarket etc. Customers won't spend more time than necessary here.

Old-fashioned points of sale might offer you a handwritten receipt for the transaction whereas most modern systems include a cash register, card machine or merely a QR code. Another word for point of sale is “outlet” as in on-trade outlet or off-trade outlet. Find out more on on-trade / HoReCa / hospitality wording and definitions in this short summary.

Point of sale from business perspective

Since points of sale are places that sell goods, they are sought after by producers and vendors of all kinds. Typically a company selling food and beverages will want to sell their products to both on-trade and off-trade points of sale, but it will employ different strategies in doing so and allocate different resources and specialists.

Points of sales get targeted both by marketing campaigns aimed not at the consumer (who goes there to eat or shop) but at the owner of the point of sale, and by sales personnel trying to get a foot in the door and make a deal with the owner to sell their products at his/her place.

Typical example of this is a sales department of beverage producer like Heineken or Pepsi (or their distributors in local markets like e.g. Mattoni for PepsiCo). These sales departments try to locate the best points of sale using various techniques, often with the help of data-driven BI tools helping them with their market research. They look prefferably for those with affluent customers, great atmosphere or rapidly growing popularity on social media and get their products to these places so that they are seen (and bought, ideally) by as many consumers as possible.

It's always much better for both the brand image and sales to have your products being sold in the best possible points of sale and producers are often competing with one another over the best places (imagine a sales representative trying to persuade an owner of a best bar in town to sell Coca Cola instead of Pepsi).

For off-trade (shops) there are many companies scanning and analyzing the market to provide producers with the data they need to pick the right points of sale for their types of products. On-trade sales people, on the other hand, were long left in the dark as far as digital data is concerned. That's actually why SharpGrid and our Outlet Census product for targeting the best points of sale came into existence.

Utilizing points of sales data for on-trade vendors

Did you know there is a plethora of data that can be collected and used in business for both of these point of sale types? At SharpGrid, we specialize in collecting & interpreting on-trade point of sale data for on-trade producers like Coca-Cola, Heineken or Asahi to help them understand their market, boost sales, manage sales teams effectively, make better business investment decisions and get rid of hidden costs that might be costing them millions. 

SharpGrid has a unique system for collecting and most importantly interpreting data available in droves thanks to the digital revolution sweeping the on-trade channel. 

If you’re interested in finding out how razor-sharp data might boost help businesses with market research, competitor analysis, team management or sales effectiveness, head over to Market Meter or Outlet Census product pages, get inspired by our on-trade insights and success stories of companies like Heineken or Unilever or try out the Free Market Report based on Market Meter data.


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