The technology vendor's new portable scanning terminal could affect how shoppers shop, and how stores generate loyalty.
Posted Jun 7, 2007
Motorola's enterprise mobility business on Tuesday announced the MC17 series, the company's third generation of handheld retail scanners. Intended for shopping environments including mass merchandisers, grocery department stores, and pharmacy outlets, the MC17 empowers customers to hasten the checkout process, locate items, check pricing, find complementary products, and receive personal recommendations and tailored promotions, according to Motorola.
The MC17 can also serve as an associate productivity tool providing store employees with access to a variety of applications for inventory management, price verification, and line busting. In addition, the MC17 can be used for gift registry in department and specialty stores.
The MC17 uses the Microsoft Windows CE 5.0 operating system, and its support for Motorola PocketBrowser enables developers to build mobile applications that integrate enterprise functionality, such as bar code scanning and mobile printing, without complex coding requirements or CE programming expertise.
"The introduction of the new MC17 mobile computer demonstrates Motorola's long history of innovation and commitment to providing our retail customers worldwide with solutions to meet increasing customer demands," said Mark Self, vice president of retail solutions for Motorola Enterprise Mobility Solutions, in a written statement. "The MC17 is a next-generation mobile solution designed to help revolutionize the shopping experience, empower customers to make better-informed purchase decisions, and enable retailers to reach the customer with targeted sales promotions at the point of decision."
When the MC17 series becomes available in the third quarter of 2007, it could deliver on the as yet unrealized promise of portable scanners. "For years, companies have been talking about possibilities and changes much bigger than they ever turned into," says Steve Banker, service director for industry consultancy and analysis firm ARC Advisory Group. "The primary applications are as a customer self-scanning terminal, and for line busting, but scanners like this can also identify frequent shoppers and provide them an instant discount as they scan." Banker says that while speeding up the shopping experience is always welcome, "printing coupons is how you really reward customers."
Devices like the MC17 require enough of an investment that retailers will want to roll them out in pilot programs before committing serious resources. However, the potential return on investment should make them attractive; reduced space requirements and more efficient warehousing are just two ways handheld scanners can benefit retailers. "This is intriguing, and I'm going to keep my eyes open," Banker says. "It's much more practical than RFID."
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