Retail evolves: the wireless, handheld store assistant


June 13, 2007

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June 14, 2007 A knowledgeable store assistant who knows what to suggest at the right time can mean the difference between a t-shirt sale and a whole outfit - not to mention making shopping a much more pleasant experience for the consumer. Motorola have just released a fascinating new handheld device for retail outlets that acts as a virtual shop assistant as a customer carries it around a store. Customers can use it to locate items, check pricing, options and availability, see related or complementary items, scan coupons and even whizz through the checkout process - and it's an ideal platform for intelligent cross-promotion and pinpoint-targeted advertising.

Motorola's new MC17 mobile computer is a faintly industrial-looking handheld device that runs Windows CE 5.0. Retailers can develop custom software through Motorola's PocketBroswer or Microsoft's .NET platform to integrate with in-store POS and inventory systems.

The unit contains a scanner that can be used to read tags, barcodes or coupons - otherwise, it's operated by using a simple 6-button interface. The unit's cover can be interchanged, allowing some cool branding options, and the MC17 should retail under US$1000 per unit.

It's a small outlay for the sort of system that can finally allow bricks-and-mortar stores to combine the security of a physical purchase with all the cross-selling, accessorizing and marketing opportunities offered by online stores like You like this CD? Check out these other guys, and here's a special if you buy both albums. Or - here's a jacket and shoes that go with the skirt you just tried on.

As it's a new technology, early adopters will likely find it makes a great difference to sales due to the curiosity factor alone - but we see this as a great step forward in retail, and look forward to seeing how imaginative stores and chains can get with the technology.

About the Author
Loz Blain Loz has been one of Gizmag's most versatile contributors since 2007. Joining the team as a motorcycle specialist, he has since covered everything from medical and military technology to aeronautics, music gear and historical artefacts. Since 2010 he's branched out into photography, video and audio production, and he remains the only Gizmag contributor willing to put his name to a sex toy review. A singer by night, he's often on the road with his a cappella band Suade. All articles by Loz Blain
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