updated 10:21 am EDT, Fri August 3, 2012
Will replace current desktop computer terminals
AT&T will soon start switching to an iPad-based point-of-sale system at its retail stores, 9to5Mac reports. Currently the carrier relies on desktop computers running software called OPUS, which handles sales tasks as well as checking inventory, corporate news, and customer upgrade status. In some regions the carrier has already tried to evolve by rolling out iPhones and tablets with scaled-back versions of OPUS; the iPhones, for instance, can only handle a few tasks like taking payments for accessories, or running basic account management.
The move to iPads is expected to take place over the next two years, eliminating not only any desktop computers but also the counters stores have been designed around. This should be possible because of the iPad version of OPUS, which will reproduce all of the desktop edition's functionality. An AT&T spokesperson is said to have confirmed at least some details -- namely the use of iPads expanding on the functions of present mobile tech -- but other claims, such as the process taking a couple of years, are attributed to anonymous sources.
These people say that AT&T will start deploying iPads for a larger test phase in some markets by early next year, following small-scale tests that have taken place within the past two weeks. In the redesigned stores, counters will be replaced by smaller tables used for things like opening phone packages. Locations will also have Wi-Fi base stations dedicated to the iPads, and lockers where tablets can be secured.
Still up in the air is how AT&T will actually process credit cards via iPads, so for the time being testers are said to be manually entering credit card info. Customers can choose email or print receipts, or handle their transactions through cash; clerks will simply have to go to a centralized cash drawer.
An AT&T spokesperson explains that the idea behind the migration is to have workers around customers instead of behind a table, theoretically making the experience better for both shoppers and workers. "Retail store reps can be side-by-side with the customer, completing sales from anywhere in the store, and out from behind a counter," the spokesperson says. The setup may be intended to mimic Apple Stores, where the iPad is now involved in virtually every aspect of sales, even down to the signage next to products.