Standing in line at a clothing store, loaded down with items you want to buy—not your favorite hobby, we’re sure. Certainly not at holiday time, when you’re in a long line of folks laden with gifts for family and friends. What if you could simply find any salesperson in the store and just walk up to them to check out? Old Navy is reportedly testing a new system from Apple that could make that a reality.
The system, called “ZipCheck”, appears to be a modified form of the iPod Touch-based mobile EasyPay system Apple started using last year at its retail stores. An iPod containing proprietary Apple software is attached to a barcode reader and a credit card scanner. The device is wirelessly connected to printers around the store as well as mini-printers the staff can wear on their belts, for easy receipt printing. The software in use at Mac stores allows staffers to process cash transactions, credit and debit cards, and even returns. In other words, store clerks can ring you up from anywhere.
ZipCheck is only one of several systems trying to make it possible for vendors to use smartphones and comparable devices to cut the tether to cashier-based checkout systems. (Jack Dorsey’s Square is another.) 9to5Mac says Old Navy had confirmed via email that they were indeed testing the system in various stores. If the test is a success and it spreads to other outlets, it could change the way retail stores operate. As AppleInsider put it, a mobile system has the potential to “change how retail stores are laid out and staffed and improve how well stores can manage spikes in demand related to holidays and other special events.”