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Retail Innovations Arrive In Time For Holiday Sales

Electronics Boutique and Best Buy have each introduced in time for the holiday season point-of-sale innovations designed to streamline in-store transactions and enhance their customers’ shopping experience.

Electronics Boutique, a Holtsville, N.Y.-based specialty chain that sells video and computer games, video game hardware and PC productivity software accessories, has begun installing a lightweight, wireless point-of-sale system within its 568-store roster.

Essentially a mobile cash register for credit card sales, the system features a handheld computer that integrates a tiny bar-code laser scanner, radio frequency technology and point-of-sale software for scanning products, completing credit card transactions, recording sales, and checking inventory with the store’s server.

A small Comtec II printer, which can be attached to an employee’s belt, prints receipts and labels.

“There are days during the holiday season when revenue at an Electronics Boutique store is constrained only by how many customers we can get through the registers,” said chief information officer Seth Levy. “This technology will not only allow more customers to get checked out quickly, it creates a more intimate and flexible shopping experience.”

He added that the system can also process in-store receiving and price changes when not being used for point-of-sale.

Electronics Boutique stores are typically 1,000 square feet in size with two to three stationary cash registers that can generate crowded checkout lines during peak sales periods. The wireless system was designed by Symbol Technologies, which produces the handheld computers, and Kyrus Corporation, which developed the software.

Meanwhile, number-one CE chain Best Buy is making life simpler for its customers by automating the rebate process. Effective Thanksgiving weekend, the specialty store inaugurated an upgraded checkout system that automatically scans a product for rebate information as well as for price, and prints out a completed rebate form along with the receipt.

“We carry a number of products with rebates, and the tear-pad system can make it difficult for customers to locate the appropriate form for their specific item,” said Jeff Maynard, VP of marketing services. “The new automated system eliminates the confusion.”

Indeed, by last week Best Buy had removed all rebate tear pads from its stores and is providing specially arranged toll-free manufacturers’ numbers that consumers can call to check the status of their rebates. In addition, the store will continue to offer its own toll-free number for rebate questions. Both numbers are printed on the rebate form shoppers receive at checkout.