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How customer search works

The customer search function in Retail POS was upgraded making it significantly faster, more flexible, and more consistent. A number of sections within the application can be filtered by the customer, and the behavior of this filter is consistent across the application.

This article details the types of search terms that are supported and explains how each works so that you can quickly locate a customer when you need to.

What fields are used in customer search?

Based on the pattern of the search terms entered, the customer search function matches against one or more of the following fields within customer accounts:

  • Phones section: Home, Work, Mobile, Pager, Fax
  • Address section: Postal Code/ZIP
  • Other section: Email 1, Email 2, and Custom
  • Biographical section: First name, Last name, Title, Company
  • Advanced search : additional search fields

The search function’s terms are not case-sensitive.

Searching by phone number(s)


Customer search includes all the Phones fields from customer accounts: Home, Work, Mobile, Pager, and Fax. Phone numbers are interpreted using one of two strategies: dialable numbers or last-N digits.

Dialable numbers

This type of search is triggered when the search term only contains digits, separators (spaces, hyphens, parentheses, underscores), and optionally an extension. Separators in the customer fields and in the search term are ignored.

Local dialing

If the merchant and the customer are located in the same country or in different countries with the same country dialing code (e.g. Canada and USA both use +1), then you can search for the customer by entering their phone number as it would be dialed locally. Local dialing only requires a valid area code and a subscriber number of valid length.

For example, from Canada, the number could be entered in any of these ways:

  • 5145555555
  • 514-555-5555
  • (514) 555-5555
  • 1 (514) 555-5555
  • +15145555555

International dialing

If the merchant and the customer are located in different countries, then the search term must be prefixed with the + symbol, followed by the dialing code of the customer’s country (+44 for UK) in order for the customer to be correctly matched. The area code of the number must be valid for the destination country. The international dialing prefix is optional (011 for North America).

To look up a UK customer by phone number from the US, any of the following will work:

  • +44 303 333 3333
  • +011 44 3033333333

Matching extensions

A valid dialable local or international phone number can be further filtered by specifying an extension following the number itself. Customer search extracts the extension based on a number of common global extension indicators such as extension, ext:, xtn., #, x, etc.

Determining country codes

The merchant’s country code is determined by certain parameters. If a shop is selected, and the shop’s address specifies a country, that country code is used. Or, if the current locale in the general options is not set to Rest of world, the equivalent country code is used. Otherwise, automatic geolocation is used.

The country code of a customer’s phone number is determined by certain parameters. If the phone number is entered in international format (prefixed with + and the country dialing code), then the number will be used as-is. If an address is provided for the customer and the country code field is populated, all phone numbers that are not specified in international format are assumed to be from that country. Otherwise, the number is assumed to be in the merchant’s country code.

Last-N digits

If the search term isn't recognized as a valid dialable phone number but contains only numeric digits (at least 2 digits) and separator characters, a reverse search is performed on the phone number for the last-N specified digits (for example the last 4 or 7 for North American numbers).

This form of lookup cannot be performed if an extension is provided. When this form of lookup is used, local vs. international dialing is not a consideration. All numbers will be evaluated equally.

For example, if a customer has the phone number “514-444-3333 ext: 123” in his Home phone field, all these search terms can find this customer, regardless of the region of the merchant:

  • 444-3333
  • 4443333
  • 44 33 33
  • 43333
  • 3333

Searching by postal code


Searching customers by postal code is also supported, though the behavior varies depending on the country code of the merchant. The following postal code patterns are supported:

  • Search term only including only numeric characters and/or separators will be matched against customers from all countries with numeric-only postal code formats (for example, US ZIP).
  • Search terms with a combination of alpha-numeric characters will match customers with a postal code in the format used by Canada, The United Kingdom, Ireland, The Netherlands, Argentina, Barbados, or the merchant’s country.


  • When the merchant performing the search is located in Canada, a postal code search is triggered when this format is entered: A1B 2C3 or A1B2C3.
  • When the merchant performing the search is located in the US, a zip code search is triggered when this format is entered: 123456.
  • When the merchant performing the search is located in the UK, a postcode search is triggered when this format is entered: WC2N 5DU orWC2N5DU.

Searching other information - email address and custom fields


Searching for customers by email address is triggered in customer search in two different ways:

  • When the text entered into the customer search field contains an @ symbol and no spaces
    • Using a complete email address (abc@123.com)
    • Using an entire username of the email address including @ symbol (abc@)
    • Using an entire username of the email address with a partial hostname (abc@123)
  • When the text entered into the customer search field starts with an @ symbol and contains the entire email host (@123.com)

Host-only search for common email hosting providers (@gmail.com, @hotmail.com, @yahoo.com, etc.) returns an error asking you to change your search term, as these tend to return too many results.

The Custom field is currently searchable with search terms that contain only numeric characters and/or separators. The search term must match the end of the source value. For example, if the value being searched is 1234567890, entering 67890 will find the correct match.

Searching by biographical information


If the search term is only two alphabetic characters, only the first name and the last name fields are checked. If the search contains at least one word with three characters or more, the first name, last name, title, and company fields are checked.

You can search multiple words at the same time by separating them with spaces. A customer appears in the results if each distinct word of three or more characters is included at least once in any of the four fields mentioned above. Each word part in the search term will be matched from the beginning of a word in the source fields but does not need to include the entire word ("abc” matches “abcd”, but “bcd” does not). Any non-alphanumeric character, including spaces, hyphens, and apostrophes, is considered a word boundary. Words in the search term don't need to be presented in the same order as they appear in the source fields.


Target customer information:

  • First name: Marie-Élizabeth A
  • Last name: O’Neill
  • Title: Writer
  • Company: Lightspeed

Successful search terms

Unsuccessful search terms
  • Marie-Élizabeth
  • Marie-Elizabeth
  • Marie Elizabeth
  • Elizabeth Marie
  • Marie
  • Elizabeth
  • Élizabeth
  • O’Neill
  • Neill
  • Neil
  • Eliza A
  • O’Neill, Marie
  • Eli Nei
  • Writer
  • Lightspeed
  • Elizabeth Writer Lightspeed
  • Writer O’Neill
Too short (min. 3 characters in at least one word):
  • El
  • A
  • M
  • M E O N W L
  • O’Ne
Missing word boundary between name parts:
  • Marieelizabeth
  • WriterLightspeed
  • Oneill
Missing the starting part of the information:
  • Liz
  • Beth
  • Elizabeth speed

If the search term contains exactly two alphabetic characters, only the first and last name fields are checked. The search considers these two characters as the beginning of the customer's first name or last name fields. If more than one name part is entered in either field, only the first two characters of the field are matched.


Searching for “Jo” finds these customers (first name begins with “Jo”):

  • John 
  • Jordan
  • Josef

Searching for “el” finds these customers (last name begins with “El”):

  • Ellis
  • El Bahou (“Ba” will not match)
  • Elliott

Advanced search

The Advanced search option allows you to make a more granular search to find your customers in your back office with these options : 

  • Default search field menu: Address, Biographical, Company, Custom, Email, First name, Last name, Phone, Postal  
  • Show type
  • Show company 
  • Archived 
  • Customer created calendar
  • Types 
  • Discounts
  • Sales tax 


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