updated 10:55 pm EDT, Mon October 17, 2011
Associates will be able to check inventory, more
The days of having to have an employee search the backroom or warehouse area of a store took another step towards extinction with the announcement by Sears Holdings (owners of both Sears and KMart) that the company would be rolling out Apple iPads and iPod Touches across 450 Sears stores nationwide, as well as introducing free Wi-Fi availability to shoppers. The move is part of an overall plan to modernize and upgrade the shopping experience.
The retailers plans to add new applications and features to the devices over time, but will start off with apps that enable associates to check available inventory, access detailed product information to answer customer questions and even help customers order an item online if it is not available locally. Customers will be able to use the free Wi-Fi in stores to surf the web, compare prices at other stores or shop online at sears.com.
Customers can expect apps that will help them plan their holiday shopping, such as locating which stores have the most inventory of a particular item or an online version of the paper "Wishbooks" that were popular for generations before being largely discontinued as internet shopping grew. The company hopes that in-store Wi-Fi and associates with easier access to information about products will draw customers, improve the shopping experience and give the venerable retailer more "mindshare" when shoppers are making buying decisions or researching products.