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Lowe’s replaces scanner guns with iPhones in-storeBy
The home improvement retailer has already begun to implement the iPhones in its stores in the United States and Canada and expects to complete the rollout by the end of the fiscal year. By replacing scanner guns with iPhones, Lowe’s hopes to make it easier for store associates to answer customers’ questions and, eventually, complete purchases.
“The iPhone’s will allow our employees to check inventory availability, access how-to videos and use Lowes.com in the aisles of our store,” said Lowe’s spokesperson Abby Buford. “We will continue to add functionality to the devices over time, but this will allow for a simple and seamless transition between customers and employees.
“Our goal is to make home improvement simple for customers and our employees,” she said.
Lowe’s, Mooresville, NC, operates more than 1,725 home improvement stores in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
Several retailers are arming store associates with mobile devices, including Lowe’s competitor Home Depot, which started giving employees handheld Motorola devices last year.
Lowe’s strategy calls for the devices to eventually enable mobile calling, emailing, text messaging and the processing of credit and debit card transactions, according to reports.
“In this instance, I’d guess that the primary motivation for the use of iPhones is the fact that it is a multi-function device and employees aren’t limited by using it only for settling transactions,” said Craig Foster, Irthlingborough, Britain-based senior analyst for ABI Research.
By equipping sales associates with iPhones, Lowe’s could also be looking to integrate iPhone point-of-sale devices with its broader mobile marketing efforts.
The retail chain has a mobile Web site and recently launched an app for iPhone and iPod that lets customers research and purchase products.
“Due to the increased pervasiveness of smartphones, customers are now familiar and comfortable with the use of these devices in their everyday lives – Lowe’s are presumably looking to exploit this, alongside some form of mobile marketing,” Mr. Foster said.
Mobile POS devices are not yet being deployed by a large number of retailers, but this could change.
“The most obvious barrier to wholesale use of the smartphone or tablet as a payment device appears to be the general uneasiness a number of people have entering their card details into one of these devices,” Mr. Foster said.
“That said, there are a number of companies such as Apriva and Square that have introduced apps that turn smartphones into mobile POS terminals, so it would seem that this segment of the market is gaining traction,” he said.
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York
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