Waitrose Upgrading Personal Shopping Assistants

U.K. retailer Waitrose plans to enhance the personal shopping units of its point-of-sale system with devices featuring an easy-to-read touchscreen display that the company says will enable advertising messages to be played.

Evesham, Worcestershire-based mobile retail technology vendor X2 Computing is supplying a WebDT 512, a 12-inch full-color touchscreen monitor in a ventilated metal casing that can be quickly fitted to the existing in-store Quick Check handset racks. Each screen has a built-in magnetic card-stripe reader (MSR) that will be used by registered users for identification purposes. This MSR has been custom-designed by X2 with a longer slot that provides a more positive feel and minimizes the need for customers to swipe their registered card multiple times.

“[This is] a cost-effective upgrade that will help extend the functionality of our Quick Check service,” said Steve Twomey, senior programmer of London-based Waitrose.

Quick Check was designed to reduce the amount of time that customers spend at the checkout and eliminates the need for unpacking and repacking of bags and shopping carts. Shoppers scan products as they select them throughout the store, and the transaction is tendered by placing the hand-held unit in a special carriage at dedicated Quick Check checkouts.

The new touchscreen displays will provide clear, accessible information that complies with the United Kingdom’s Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), which requires regular DDA audits in every shop to identify ways to further improve access.

Potential future developments include using the device for advertising messages, remote software updates and other functional enhancements -- all to be carried out from one central location instead of being operated locally.
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