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    iPads Everywhere

    Can Apple be the next big retail technology vendor?

    Ubiquitous is a term that comes to mind when describing the iPad.

    We see them everywhere, being used in different ways -- a sales rep running his presentation off of one in a boardroom, passengers on trains and planes and buses using them to read e-books, teens using them to update their Facebook statuses.

    They are even permeating retail. Regional managers use them to check emails when on the road or use them to view their latest sales figures, hold virtual conferences, or even to scan QR codes of products that interest them at events.

    Now, however, the iPad is moving to the front of the store.

    Marty's Market -- a specialty food market with five checkout lanes in Pittsburgh that focuses on bringing fresh, all-natural food to its customers, is piloting San Francisco-based Revel Systems’ iPad-based POS system designed specifically for supermarkets and grocery stores.

    Lawrence Capozzolo, who heads up IT for Marty's Market, said he's seeing tremendous benefits from the systems. Not surprisingly, learning the system is a snap, as most of the young associates at the checkouts are already familiar with the interface. "With its now familiar intuitive touchscreen interface, the iPad makes it so simple for our employees to learn so that we don't have to spend days training them," he said. "Adding to the simplicity and compactness of the iPad POS system, the solution ties in to our flatbed scanner and card reader in a way that matches the flow of our store."

    Here are some of the system's features:

    • Integration with Dwolla, a new payment platform that charges no fees for transactions under $10 and only 25 cents per transaction for any amount over $10 with no service agreement or cancellation fees for the stores. LevelUp's payment platform is also a supported plug-in.
    • Hardware connections via wireless connection through Revel Systems' Revel Router to best-of-breed peripherals that include Honeywell flatbed scanners, Epson printers, chip/PIN attachment for PIN debit transactions, cash drawers, scales and more
    • Import/export of products made just for supermarkets to enable price changing on the fly
    • Price-embedded SKUs that enable deli and other sections of the store to preprint price-embedded barcodes to expedite front register scans
    • Grocery Store API that allows modification of products at an advanced level
    • Coupon capability to scan manufacturer coupons or printable online coupons
    • Customer-facing kiosk mode for self-checkout lanes
    • Full-blown POS back-end features that include real-time reporting for inventory control, and employee scheduling

    What remains to be seen is whether such as system can scale up to accommodate larger chains (can you imagine Apple as a dominant retail technology player?), and how far throughout the store the iPad can be applied. They are already functioning a portable information kiosks, but how about scales, handheld scanners for the back room, etc.?

    With Apple, anything's possible.

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