Hoffman Estates, Ill. - Sears will begin providing free Wi-Fi access in its stores and will equip sales associates with iPads and iPod Touches to improve the in-store shopping experience.
Wi-Fi, along with enhanced wireless coverage, will allow customers to use their smartphones or web-enabled devices to surf the web or compare prices before they purchase, the company said.
Sears believes the Apple products will allow associates to improve customer service and create "a more personalized shopping experience" by checking available inventory, accessing product information and videos, utilizing enhanced purchasing tools, and helping customers order products online.
Sears chief information officer Keith Sherwell said the company is upgrading its entire network and technology infrastructure to provide free Wi-Fi and greater wireless access in stores, which will help create "a uniquely rich, integrated retail experience."
The initiative appears to embrace, rather than discourage, shoppers' growing use of smartphone apps that can identify products on store shelves and provide price comparisons across multiple channels.
Sears said the iPads and iPod Touches will be rolled out to associates in stages, beginning with about 450 stores nationwide.
"This isn't only about cool new devices," noted retail services president Deidra Merriwether. "This is about a better overall in-store shopping experience for our customers as we strive to put them first in everything we do."