Any retail, restaurant, or hospitality venue that sells items by weight needs a scale to protect their customers and business. Point of sale (POS) scales are used by different types of merchants that charge for their items by weight, including supermarkets, jewelers, coffee shops, self-service restaurants and buffets, butchers, candy stores, and more. Whether you’re dealing in pounds of fruit or ounces of gold, scales measure the weight of a customer’s purchase, calculate the price accurately, and help track inventory.
On the surface, the scale’s operation seems relatively straightforward: weigh the items, print tags, and move on to the next customer. This deceptively easy process is backed and regulated by the science of weights and measures, a battery of federal and local laws, inspectors, and several government agencies dedicated to calculating weights and prices correctly. Although it may seem like overkill, these safeguards protect you from over- or under-charging customers and the fallout that comes from making these types of errors.
If you’re in the market for a new scale, consider your products and how accurate the scale needs to be, where it will be set up, and how often it should be calibrated. States monitor merchants with scales for accuracy, so know the local laws in your area to help ensure your POS scales are always in compliance.
No matter what type of business you operate, purchasing a NTEP-certified scale should be nonnegotiable. A retailer that is caught using a non-NTEP-certified scale may be subject to heavy fines, seizure of the illegal scale, or work shutdown. You should never purchase a scale that doesn’t have this important designation, but that doesn’t mean that every scale automatically goes through the process. NTEP certification was developed by the National Conference on Weights and Measures.
Look for a scale with a NTEP Certificate of Conformance (CoC), which means the scale can be used in a commercial setting to sell products by weight. Every NTEP-certified scale will have a CoC number that an inspector uses to verify that the scale meets the agency’s testing standards. Only a NTEPcertified scale, when properly inspected and calibrated, is “legal for trade.”
What else should you think about when you’re shopping for a scale? Here is a quick preview of the five things to put at the top of your list.
1. State Regulations
Across the US, every state has its own agencies and departments that regulate scales and inspect them for accuracy. Some states may require a yearly inspection, while others are inspected less frequently.
Although every industry is different, some require a higher level of accuracy than others. One of the most talked about industries right now is cannabis retail, which relies heavily on scales for its products. Medical marijuana retailers and dispensaries are legal in more than half of the US, and although they sell products by weight, you can’t expect the same regulations that apply at a salad bar to also work for medical uses. In fact, the standards and regulations for cannabis scales vary by state, so choose the scale that will keep you in compliance and accurately serve your customers.
Like any POS component, harsh environments demand more rugged scales. The unit that looks pretty sitting on a counter is not going to cut it in a busy warehouse or inside a cold storage facility. Before purchasing a scale, decide where and how it’s going to be used, so you can choose one that’s tough enough for your business.
Before you purchase POS scales, identify how they’re going to be used and what you need to weigh. Are you dealing with fresh produce, bulk candy and meat, or items like mail and packages? Are most of your products heavy or light? Large or small?
Star Micronics scales have the option to be powered by electrical outlet or battery for additional flexibility and portable use. This feature is especially valuable if you need to take the scale to farmer’s markets, street fairs, or pop-up stores.
4. Connectivity Options
Adding a scale doesn’t mean you need a whole new POS system, so check your current system and see what connectivity options it has and go from there. Look at the operating system and make sure you choose a scale that’s compatible with what you already have. Star Micronics scales offer software support for Windows, iOS, and Android, so adding the scale to an existing system is easy. The scales have a triple interface, and connect using Bluetooth BLE, USB, and Serial. Everything you need to get started comes in the box, including a waterproof and dustproof cover, power cable, and USB cable.
For industries that deal with products by weight, including cannabis, retail, jewelers, restaurants, and pharmacies, a properly calibrated, NTEP-certified scale ensures you are not over- or under-charging customers. These POS components also assist with inventory tracking at your store or restaurant. Running a business that charges based on weight is impossible without a properly-calibrated scale, so make sure you choose the one that best takes care of your needs.
It’s important to pay attention to the accuracy class. Always choose a scale that’s the correct accuracy class, because a candy store doesn’t need to adhere to the same levels of compliance required for medicinal purposes.
Leverage Agency Expertise for Installation Compliance
Once you have selected the scale of your choice, consider who will be in charge of installation, calibration, and getting the NTEP seal with your local measurement organization. You may think this is an easy DIY-job, but doing this by yourself is not recommended. If you try calibrating scales yourself, and they fail any tests administered by government agencies, you will be penalized with fines. Click here to learn more about Star’s nationwide scale installation partners.
Ready to learn even more about how to select the right scale for your business? Download our full, free eBook now!
Heidi Orpilla is the Digital Content Specialist at Star Micronics where she creates and manages content for Star’s blog, social media, website, products, and more. Heidi has a passion for writing and has worked in the B2B marketing space for over five years. Prior to working at Star, Heidi worked at a large reseller for six years.