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Urban Outfitters ditches registers, converts to iPad only

Most retailers using iPads to check out their consumers are mobile, be they food trucks or conference vendors, but Urban Outfitter’s choice to change their point-of-sale system could indicate a broader shift in retail technology.

ipad register

ipad register

A shift in retailer mentality

The rise of the iPad is upon us and it’s been that way for quite some time. They’re everywhere –from people use them to take pictures of PowerPoint slides at conferences to processing my debit card purchase when I stop at a food truck for lunch. Small business owners who have a mobile business location often use iPads for this very reason – to process payments on the go. But now Urban Outfitters, an established brick-and-mortar store, is working to replace all cash registers with iPads. Could this be the new evolution of retail point-of-sale systems?

Checking out the Apple Way

All Urban Outfitters check-out counters will be equipped with iPads on a swivel stand, giving cashiers a free range of motion to allow customers to input email addresses or registry items during a transaction. And when staff doesn’t feel like being confined behind a counter, they can pop the tablet off and walk the floor, allowing customers to check out in any part of the store.

Urban Outfitters wants to move to this new model because it will cost significantly less than maintaining and installing new cash registers. CIO Calvin Hollinger says an iPad costs about a fifth as much as a cash register and it not only has greater functionality, but also a higher level of interactivity with the customer.

May Need Some more Development Before Becoming Widespread

I’m not quite sure how I feel about this. I do see the value in being able to go where the customer goes and allow for a more interactive check out experience, but what about the times when you’re in a rush? Is the person who checks out the fastest the one who can run to the nearest staff member first? With people checking out in all areas of the store, who’s to say someone won’t just walk out with items claiming they’ve already paid? How will cash be stored after doing away with the registers? And do I really want to type in my own email address while I’m checking out?

These are all questions that need to be considered in order for me to see a clear benefit of doing away with all cash registers. It makes sense from a cost standpoint and it could be helpful if while searching for a pair of shoes, I see the store is out of my size and a nearby staff member is able to whip out a tablet and tell me when the next shipment is coming in or what other stores have them in stock. But as far as using iPads to engage with customers at the register, I’m not sold on the fact that I can type in my own information while I’m checking out. I’m content with whatever process is fastest to get my purchase in the bag so that I can be on my merry way.

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Destiny Bennett is a journalist who has earned double communications' degrees in Journalism and Public Relations, as well as a certification in Business from The University of Texas at Austin. She has written stories for AustinWoman Magazine as well as various University of Texas publications and enjoys the art of telling a story. Her interests include finance, technology, social media...and watching HGTV religiously.


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