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OM in the News: Penney’s Turns to the iPad For a Cash Register

July 25, 2012

In Chapter 7, Process Strategy, we discuss the impact of new technology and equipment on the customer service experience. USA Today (July 25, 2012) provides a great example to use in class with a front page story that starting this weekend, salespeople in Penney’s new Levi’s shops will use only iPads to check out customers. All of Penney’s 1,100 stores will offer mobile checkout by the end of the year.

More than 6,000 Nordstrom salespeople are already using mobile devices to check people out, just like at Apple stores. “By the end of this year, Nordstrom salespeople will be able to do everything on their handheld devices that they can at a register,” says Jamie Nordstrom, grandson of the chain’s founder. “I believe the future of our point-of-sale systems is completely mobile,” he adds. “It’s hard to know whether it’s in one year or five years because the technology is evolving so rapidly.”

Several grocery stores — Costco and Sam’s Club are two — already use employees armed with mobile devices for “line busting.” The workers scan products for customers standing in lines and print a bar code that they can take to cashiers to pay. Nordstrom salespeople will still be able to make change, but not with the “cash registers of yesterday”. “As long as there is cash, we’ll always be happy to accept cash”, Nordstrom says.

Other stores where customers interact often with salespeople will likely start adopting mobile checkout. “If you go through the whole process of shopping with help along the way, why should you have to stop and be funneled to a line?” says an industry consultant.

Discussion questions:

1. What other technology changes are impacting OM in the retail scene?

2. How does the iPad build flexibility into the store’s operations?

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