In a presentation on its first-ever annual analyst day today, Urban Outfitters made an announcement: The chain, CIO Calvin Hollinger said, will switch from cash registers to Apple products.
"Sales people will have iPod touches," Joe Weistenthal reports, "and cash registers are being phased out in favor of iPads on a swivel."
The move makes sense. There's the cool factor of the Apple products, for one thing -- something of which the chain is no doubt conscious. But there's also the fact that iPads, per Hollinger, cost about a fifth of the price of cash registers. Replacing damaged or broken devices is presumably much easier when those devices are widely available consumer products. Plus, the flexibility of the iPad-plus-swivel design allows customers actually to see the screen that's conveying their transaction -- which doesn't just help with transparency, but which also, Weisenthal points out, allows customers to input their own information. (That will be particularly helpful given stores' increasing reliance on customers' email addresses for receipt-sending, discount-announcing, and the like.)
It also means, of course, that store workers can be relatively mobile, allowing a point of purchase to be ... pretty much any point in the store. The iPods, for their part, will be used not only for sales and returns, but also for worker-side activities like retagging items and taking inventory.