Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sharp ER-A420 Cash Register

The Sharp ER-A420 cash register is a great entry level register designed for food service. Good size keyboard for one touch items, offers optional credit card interface with a Datacap Twin Tran and you can make your own keyboard with a ER-A420 keyboard template.

This is a very durable machine although you will need to change the keyboard cover from time to time as with all flat keyboard cash registers. The busier you are the more you will have to change it.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Paper and inking supplies for Sharp Cash Registers

Here is a good link to find supplies for cash registers including the hard to find ER-A320 ink roller which also works in the A330 and several other registers.

They have the 44mm thermal and 44mm bond as well as all the ink ribbons cartridges and rollers.

Since we are talking about ink supplies please remember NEVER EVER re-ink your cash register's ink roller. You also replace with a factory inked roller. If you apply ink to an old roller and put it in your cash register most of the time it ruins it!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sharp Cash Register Keyboard Templates

Here is a link if you need a keyboard template for a Sharp cash register. Not many listed but there are a couple and you can always take one of these and change it to fit yours. Just remember to print out a blank and check for size before you do hours of work and print it only to find it does not fit!

Same site also sells all of the keyboard covers for Sharp cash registers.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Sharp makes two lines of cash registers

Most customers have no idea that their are two lines of Sharp cash registers. There is the consumer grade models that all begin with the letters XE like the XE-A101 etc. than there is the commercial grade line that begins with the letters ER or UP as in ER-A530 or UP-700

Most commercial cash registers dealers like us do not do any type of support with the XE models. Sharp views the XE line as a disposable cash register, need support or repair than I think they expect you to throw it away and buy another one. The few times I have been able to find parts for an XE model from Sharp the price is horrible and then I get chewed out by someone looking for a part so we don't even attempt to price out parts for XE models any longer so please don't ask us to.

We so repair and support all the ER and UP models of cash registers and Sharp does a great job of keeping parts and support available for most of them.

If you have a busy store or restaurant and security is a concern DO NOT USE a XE model. Yes a few of the of loaded with features and cheap they do not hold up. They do work well for some owner operators that don't have a real high volume.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Sharp cash register drawer inserts (till)

We have most all the inserts also known as a till for all the commercial Sharp Cash Registers. We do not have nor does anyone I know of have the inserts for the Sharp XE models of cash registers. When you call to order you will need the model of your register, not the size of the insert. You can also buy online by selecting the model number from a pick list. Some inserts cost more than others but most are pretty low cost.

Sharp cash register drawer insert
Sharp Cash Drawer Insert

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Cash Register with credit card terminal

The cash register guys have just announced they have partnered with Mercury Payment Systems (MPS) to bring you a huge discount on a new Sharp cash register with built in credit card terminal when you sign up with MPS for a merchant services account. Also MPS offers their merchants a free gift card system including the first 50 cards for free. This allows you to offer your own private label gift card system with no fees.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sharp Cash Register Blog

My co-worker has also started a blog for Sharp cash registers. I'm sure my blog is more helpful but just in case you can find the info here try her's.

Sharp ER-A330 Cash Register

The Sharp ER-A330 is meeting the same fate as the ER-A320 Both of these models have been work horses of the Sharp Cash Register line however the printer they use is no longer made by Epson so Sharp has to pull the plug. Parts will be available for years and years and should become an issue for quite awhile.

Sharp has not released a replacement for these two models. The did release the ER-A247 and the ER-A347 which are great registers however they both use thermal paper and have quite a few more features than either the A320 or A330

Sharp ER-A330 Cash Register
Sharp ER-A330 Cash Register

Monday, October 22, 2012

Interface your cash register with Quick Books

The Sharp ER-A347 cash register is the first I have come across after years in the sharp register business that includes with the cash register what Sharp calls a Quick Books transfer tool.

The Sharp ER-A347 cash register interfaces to a computer via an SD card (not a direct connection) and the SD card will transfer programming from the computer to the register and sales reports from the register to the computer.

The Quick Books tranfer Tool software will take the sales reports and transfer into your quick books software.

The ER-A347 cash register also can interface to a credit card terminal and bar code scanner. You will not find a register even close to it in the price range. Check it out before you buy anything

Sharp ER-A347 Cash Register
Sharp ER-A347 Cash Register

Friday, October 19, 2012

Sharp ER-A320 Cash Register

The Sharp ER-A320 cash register has been one of the best selling cash registers on the market for years and years. This model is a workhorse and easy to use, takes abuse and keeps coming back for more.

The bad news is the Sharp ER-A320 cash register is no longer being made. In this case it is not Sharp's fault as Epson who makes the printer for this model stopped making the printer and Sharp had no choice but to end the A320's life. There will still be parts for a very long time and I would not hesitate to buy this machine because of this news. As a matter of fact if this is a model your business uses on a regular basis I would buy a few while they are available.

As far as I know Sharp has not released any news about a replacement with a bond printer. They did release two new models that are great but they both have thermal printers. The new machines also include many features not found in the A320 like computer interface, SD card port, credit card terminal interface and a multi-line LCD display.

The ER-A320 Cash Register from Sharp
Sharp ER-A320 Cash Register

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sharp ER-A347 and ER-A247 cash registers

We continue to sell and install the Sharp ER-A347 and the ER-A247 and the more we work with them the more we like them.

When you first turn them on they will go into a programming mode and start asking you programming questions on it's multi-line LCD display. You continue to answer the questions and in a few minutes you are up running your business with your new cash register.

Both registers come pre-programmed for certain items. They come out of the box with every department pre-programmed taxable which works very well for most customers.

Also these are the only two cash registers on the market that I'm aware of the interface directly to a traditional credit card terminal and don't have to use a Datacap Twin Tran like many other registers do.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Sharp ER-A530 Cash Register

One of the work horses of the Sharp line of commercial cash registers is the Sharp ER-A530 cash register. This machines has many great features for restaurants. Large flat keyboard, two station printer, commercial grade cash drawer and very reliable. Interfaces to a kitchen printer, DVR, Credit Card Interface, Gift Card Interface, Twin Tran, PC and more.

Strong fit for a small to medium restaurant that only needs one cash register and does not run guest checks. The reason for this is the ER-A530 does not have Inter-Register communications enabling multiple registers to network together.

Tough as nails and reliable at a great price.

Sharp ER-A530

Monday, October 15, 2012

Sharp ER-A347 cash register

If you need a cost effective cash register for a retail business you should take a hard look at the Sharp ER-A347 cash register. This is one of the newest released from Sharp and it has some very unique features.

  • Two station thermal printer with receipt and journal
  • credit card terminal interface
  • 3.7" LCD display
  • 7000 standard UPC/PLU capacity
  • 2 serial ports
  • SD card port
  • PC Link software
  • QuickBooks transfer tool
All this for under $340.00 and commercial grade. There is one important feature you will not find on any cash register other than the ER-A247 and ER-A347 and that is they can interface to s Hypercom Credit Card terminal (specific model, not every Hypercom) which to the best of my knowledge is the first time this has been done by anyone.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Interface your Sharp cash register and a credit card terminal

Sharp cash registers are one of the first on the market to release a commercial grade cash register that  interfaces to a traditional credit card terminal made by Hypercom. Although It is only one specific model of Hypercom it is a step in the right direction. The registers that can do this are the ER-A347 and the ER-A247 from Sharp. I do not beleive gift cards have been introduced to this interface yet.

The interface with the standalone credit card terminal is good, however I don't think it is as fast or secure as the old standby of interfacing cash registers to credit card payments with a Datacap. When you interface with the Datacap product such as the TwinTran it really turns your cash register into a credit card terminal as well. Most SAM4s Cash Registers and Sharp Registers interface with Datacap and also allow Gift Card interface as well.

There are several credit card merchant services compaines that specialize in cash register to credit card interfaces and the unique aspects of this interface. The company I have worked with the most and with the higest rate of success for everyone involved is Mercury Payment Systems. They will offer you a no upfront cost Twin Tran, a no cost gift card program (you do buy the cards, but never a discount fee or transaction fee for gift cards), they pay me to manage and support  your register and cash register interface.

We have not even talked about if you should interface or not. After doing this now for over ten years I can assure you interfacing your cash register or POS system directly to credit card payments will make you more money. How can I be so sure you might ask? I have seen first hand with my own eyes store owners we have installed going through thier receipts before and after interfacing. Before interfacing reconciling credit card payments on the register to the actual charges on the credit card terminal are drasiclty different. After they match penny for penny! Before interface entry mistakes were common where a cashier might turn a $19.99 sale into $1.99 on the credit card terminal. Fraud also is reduced greatly when you interface the two.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Sharp Cash Register Service Key

I have blogged about this before but it is worth re-visiting this issue. Most Sharp cash register from time to time will require a special key called a service key in order to perform special programming an end-user normally would not need to do. The key can also re-set a machine in case a lock up among a few other minor functions.

Why is this worth re-visiting? Because we the dealer always seem to get the short end of the stick on this service key issue. Having said that we need to look at a few facts!

  1. The Sharp Company DOES not include a service key with the purchase of a new machine to the end-user.
  2. The Sharp Company DOES not include a service key to the dealer when we buy machines from the factory.
  3. As a authorized dealer WE MUST BUY our service keys from the Sharp company.
Here are a few facts about the service key and Sharp Cash Registers

  1. In most cases a Sharp cash register will NOT need a service key when sold and/or deployed.
  2. There are a few models that almost every time deployed will need a service key, our company includes a service key with these few models every time we sell it. Keep in mind we buy it separately and include with the register.
  3. The Service key is exclusively for dealer programmed options and functions. Most of these functions are rare to change and often would make no sense to the end-user
  4. Sharp is not making extra money from the service key issue, seems to be a pain in the rear to them as well.
Sharp cash registers are still wonderful cash registers and their biggest competitor in North America also has secret service modes on their cash registers as well, however they include the key with purchase!

So if you find yourself in need of a service key don't take it out on the dealer it is not his/her fault. Yes they had to pay extra for it as well! What should you pay for the key? Fair market price would be no great than $20.00 give or take. Also remember the service key requires a service manual also that does not come with the registers and never will. Some are available to dealers in pdf some are not. An end-user should expect to pay for service time for a cash register technician to walk them through service steps via phone or otherwise.

Lastly service keys if used incorrectly can wipe out your entire machine whether you have just the date and time programmed or 10K UPC's so listen to your cash register dealer.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sharp Cash Register Keyboard Covers

Keyboard covers are a great way to protect the investment you have made in your cash register. Here is a great place to buy your covers listed for both Sharp machines

If they don't have you model listed you may want to give them a call. I know they have the popular Sharp models such as

  • Sharp ER-A320
  • Sharp ER-A330
  • Sharp ER-A247
  • Sharp ER-A347
  • Sharp ER-A420
  • Sharp UP-700
  • Many more Sharp registers as well

Don't forget to change your keyboard covers which will protect your register and probably easier to see through!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Cash Register Keyboard Covers yes or no?

People ask us all the time if they need a keyboard cover. In most cases that would be yes. Keyboard covers protect your cash register from spills and also help keep dust and other airborne substances out of your cash register. It won't stop everything but they help for sure.

Not every business of course has to have a keyboard cover for example maybe a hardware store where there is never any liquid near the machines (don't forget cashiers soda pops or coffee) and you do a lot of 10 key maybe you could get away without it. I would still install one as they cost about $25.00 in most cases and can protect a $1000.00 cash register from being ruined!

Here are a couple links for keyboard covers. Sharp Cash Register Keyboard Covers or SAM4s Cash Register Keyboard Covers and don't forget the restaurant style registers all have keyboard covers that can be replaced. Don't live with a worn cover you can no longer see through when again they cost $25.00 to $35.00 on average.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Pert 10 of 10 of our which cash register should I buy series

Number ten in our series of the top ten questions to ask yourself before buying a new cash register is "Do I want to track inventory or just sales?"

This is a simple yet complex question for several different reasons. Many people get confused and think sales reports are the same as inventory control reports. Many people also confuse a cash registers stock keeping feature as being the same as true inventory control.

Let's look at true inventory control based on how we would define that from a point of sale system (POS) perspective. A POS system would within a matter of a few minutes be able to tell you item by item , what you have in stock, how many you have sold, how many you need to re-order and some systems even more. A true POS system will be able to tell you based on sales you need to order a case of blue widgets from ACME at a cost of $30.00 per case because last week you started with 10 blue widgets and sold 5 and have a threshold stock of 10 and must buy by the case. The system would then print a PO and when the items came in you could quickly receive into the system which would add the new ones to inventory, update your cost if it had changed and of course your cost of goods sold and profit per blue widget.

Now lets look at what a cash register is REALLY GOOD AT which is sales reporting. Lets for arguments sake say you have a 1000 UPC items programmed into your cash register. Each of those UPC's is programmed to a department for reporting. The cash register will allow you to take a UPC or PLU report based on a range of UPC/PLU numbers, UPC/PLU linked to a department, and a few other ways (different cash registers allow more or less reports) A cash register report will tell you that you have sold X amount of Blue Widgets from the last time you "Z'd" the report. The cash register does not know month to date, year to date, months, weeks, days etc. It knows from the last time you took the report until right now! Even if the register has monthly reports also known as "Z2" reports the Z2 reports are still based on from last taken to right now and the register has no idea what a month is or what month it is regardless of the fact it prints the date. A cash register counts sales and reports very well. It is your job to manage the dates to take the reports to get the most benefit of the reports. Most cash registers have many different daily and monthly reports.

So now you want to keep inventory on a cash register. You want your cash register to tell you that you started with 100 Blue Widgets and sold 75 and have 25 in stock and need to order more. Cash Registers with stock keeping can do most of that, however it would not tell you how many to buy, just how many you have left. The system seems to fall apart however when the store owner buys more blue widgets the end-user must go into programming and tell the cash register now instead of 25 widgets you have 125 although a few registers allow you to program plus 100 instead of entering the new number. Now envision you have 1000 UPC's and do you still want to do this? I would sell to you with a disclaimer that you should buy a software based POS system not cash register or a cash register and a inventory program to interface into.

My boss and I have about 65 years combined experience with cash registers and we know for a fact that people keeping inventory with a cash register seldom ever turns out well. We also know that there are salespeople across the country that tell people what they want to hear "YES it can do it" and than they end up calling us and we have to give them the bad news. The good news is if you have under 100 items and you are dedicated to 2 to 4 hours per week managing the stock control a cash register will make a pretty good limited inventory system.

A computer based POS has built in many time saving features that allow you to manage thousands of items with more detail in the same time a register can track limited info for 50 items. If someone tells you otherwise make them show you how to add inventory to stock. How long did it take? Was it easy? Was it one item at a time? I could go on and on on this topic. We feel passionate enough about it we wish cash register manufactures would remove the stock control features so people are not even tempted!

Not convinced? Call us or go somewhere and take a demo of managing inventory in both a computer POS system and a cash register!

SAM4s and Sharp both make cash registers with stock control features. The SPS-500 series is the first one on the market that have streamlined a little of the process to make it more manageable.

Please take away from this if nothing else that yes many cash registers can run a limited inventory control/stock keeping system however look hard at it and make sure it is for you!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Part 9 of 10 important questions to ask yourself when buying a cash register

Number nine of our series is "Do I need a commercial grade cash register or a consumer grade register?"

First lets look at this question in more detail. Two of the three major cash register companies in the US sell both commercial grade and consumer grade registers. Commercial grade machines are found only through cash register dealers and never through big box stores. Consumer grade registers are sold through big box stores however you will find the rare dealer that sells a few as well.

The biggest problem with a consumer grade cash register is lack of support. If support is not that important to you than maybe that is not an issue. What you should know is every day my office gets calls from people who own consumer grade cash registers looking for support or more importantly looking for free support. When I say every day I literally mean every day without fail we will receive numerous calls from people looking for support for consumer grade registers. The consumer grade registers are most often very inexpensive and some have some great features you may not even find in a commercial grade register. If you are a high volume retail outlet or restaurant it is unlikely a consumer grade machine will hold up to the stress or you will be replacing them every 12 to 24 months. A good commercial grade register in our experience have a work life of 5 to 7 years and often much longer. Sure some don't last that long and the care and environment make a huge difference in lifespan.

Were we see a tremendous amount of frustration is the owner of a consumer grade register that needs to change the sales tax rate on their register. Before you call us you should also know that the commercial grade dealer like we are does not receive factory support from the manufactures of the consumer grade registers which is one reason we elect not to even attempt to support them any longer. Another huge sticking point is replacement parts. In most cases we are unable to get parts for the consumer grade registers and when we do they are outrageously over priced and I mean BAD! This just leads to very angry people yelling at our staff over pricing for a part for a machine that we had nothing to do with so of course we no longer even attempt to look up a part.

Where does a consumer grade register work? Well if you store/restaurant is owner operated, lower volume, not as much security requirements, no need to integrate with options like scanning, software, credit card etc! But most important they are for the person that will be a "Do it yourselfer"

A commercial grade register is for the person that does a little more business, needs interfaces to credit card, gift card, DVR etc. These registers are for people that need more security, or help with understanding the security features built into a machine. They are for people that when the tax changes want to be able to reach out to someone and get support. Commercial registers in most cases are scalable meaning they can grow and adapt with your business.

So really weigh the differences before you buy any register. If you are looking cheap cheap cheap than consumer grade is for you. If you need stability and support than maybe you should look at commercial grade. And please don't get me wrong there are some very successful stores and restaurants operating on consumer grade registers but there are far more using commercial grade.

Remember all of your return on investment from you business is coming back to you via the register or POS system. If used properly a commercial grade or consumer grade register can help you maximise the return!