Lowes announced that it was deploying 42,000 iPhones for use by its in-store employees – replacing purpose-built barcode scanners and including payment functionality. No word on how card payments will be processed by the mobile devices – i.e. if magstripe / chip readers will be used or if payments will take place through a virtual mobile terminal – but Mercator will be following the story closely as it develops.
The home improvement retailer has already begun to implement the iPhones in its stores in the United States and Canada and expects to complete the rollout by the end of the fiscal year. By replacing scanner guns with iPhones, Lowe’s hopes to make it easier for store associates to answer customers’ questions and, eventually, complete purchases.
“The iPhone’s will allow our employees to check inventory availability, access how-to videos and use Lowes.com in the aisles of our store,” said Lowe’s spokesperson Abby Buford. “We will continue to add functionality to the devices over time, but this will allow for a simple and seamless transition between customers and employees.
“Our goal is to make home improvement simple for customers and our employees,” she said.
Several retailers are arming store associates with mobile devices, including Lowe’s competitor Home Depot, which started giving employees handheld Motorola devices last year.
Lowe’s strategy calls for the devices to eventually enable mobile calling, emailing, text messaging and the processing of credit and debit card transactions, according to reports.