Exclusive look at Apple's new iPod touch-based EasyPay checkout

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
(ifoAppleStore) Within two weeks, Apple stores will begin retiring their current Windows CE-based portable computers and start using a custom-designed and crafted iPod touch to check out customers. AppleInsider has a first look at the new system.



Those who have seen the system for processing credit card, debit card and cash purchases, dubbed "EasyPay touch," said it combines iPod touch features with a magnetic stripe reader, advanced barcode scanner and Apple-written software to speed plastic and cash transactions.



Perhaps more significantly, the change to an iPod touch and Apple software will bring the entire point-of-sale (POS) system under Apple's control. In addition, the system will have the added benefit of advertising the usefulness of the iPod touch to customers who see it being used right in front of them.



It is unknown which manufacturer partnered with Apple to create the new device. The outside shell resembles many of the protective cases sold at the Apple stores, while the back of the shell resembles several of the auxiliary battery packs sold for the iPhone.



In April, AppleInsider first reported that Apple would replace its Pocket PC-based EasyPay devices with the iPod touch, thanks to new accessory support in the iPhone 3.0 software.



New system aims to improve



The current portable computers are made by Symbol Technologies Inc. and run Windows CE, linked to Apple's servers via Wi-Fi. They were introduced just before the holiday buying season in 2005, and allow any employee to act as a cashier, eliminating the traditional cash register positions that are common at other retailers. But the system has drawn complaints from employees about software crashes, sluggish operation and the need to frequently reboot.



Customers have also complained about Apple's check-out method, saying that it's confusing to make a purchase without a conspicuous, well-identified POS counter or waiting line.



Employees at the two just-opened Microsoft retail stores also use a portable POS computer made by Samsung, with an attached card reader and a separate barcode scanner. The Microsoft solution is about four times larger than an iPod touch and weighs five times as much.



Apple's new EasyPay touch system uses the touchscreen interface to access nearly every feature a salesperson would need to help a customer, including purchases with credit and debit cards, cash and making returns. There are numerous shortcuts available within the software, including pull-down menus and "flickable" lists.



Apple's solution consists of a hard plastic, two-piece slip-on shell with a grip texture. The magstripe reader is tucked onto the back of the shell, and the barcode scanner is installed within the top of the device. Hidden inside the shell is a rechargeable battery to power the card reader and scanner. A set of four tiny lights on the back indicate the unit's state of battery charge.







Buttons on the side of the device connect through to the iPod touch, including the sleep and volume controls. A mini-USB connector connects to an AC battery charger. A large squeeze-button on the right side momentarily activates the barcode scanner.







Checking out



The EasyPay touch will handle credit, debit and cash transactions, as well as certain product returns. But some other transactions will continue to be processed through the existing POS system, including using two or more credit/debit cards to pay for a single transaction, accepting bank or traveler's checks, and processing returns for cash.







Credit card transactions will be handled very similar to the current method. Customers will write their signature on the iPod touch using a Pogo Sketch stylus, which simulates the action of a finger, but allows finer entry and control.







Debit card transactions will be a hybrid of the EasyPay touch and the existing Hypercom desktop terminal. A customer's order will be entered and logged on the iPod touch. The customer will be directed to one of the store's existing Hypercom-brand credit card terminals, where they will swipe their card and enter their PIN. When the card is approved, a code is returned to the iPod touch for matching with the order.







For the first time, cash transactions can be accepted by any Apple store employee who has an iPod touch. After entering all the products and totaling the cost, the employee presses an on-screen "Cash" button to electronically open one of several cash drawers installed around the store. According to tipsters, this feature will be rolled out only at selected stores over the next six months.







Customers will continue to have the option to receive a printed or e-mailed receipt, or both.



For product returns, the original purchase can be located by scanning the barcode of the purchase receipt. Without a receipt, EasyPay can search for the purchase by the customer's e-mail address, product serial number, or the credit/debit card number. The device captures why the return is being made, and will then generate a credit to the customer's account, along with a printed or e-mailed receipt.







iPhone purchasing streamlined



Purchasing an iPhone is said to be greatly simplified with the new EasyPay system. The iPod touch scanner can detect and capture all four barcodes that are printed on the iPhone box, and will automatically fill in the appropriate data fields on the order screen.



iPhone-specific screens will collect the customer's identification, and if they are a new or existing AT&T customer. The Apple store employee can enter the customer's choice of phone plan, indicate if they qualify for a reduced price on the iPhone and if the customer is porting their current telephone number to the iPhone. Various other plan options can also be selected, including the text message add-ons. The software even displays the iPhone "Terms and Conditions" for the customer to read, and then accepts the customer's signature to verify their acceptance.















Gary Allen is the creator and author of ifo Apple Store, which provides close watch of Apple's retail locations. When Gary isn't busy publishing news and information on Apple's latest retail stores, he finds himself hanging out at one.
«1345678

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 152
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member
    Great overview and an interesting device.



    I have to say that I've *never* heard this before though:

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    ... Customers have also complained about Apple's check-out method, saying that it's confusing to make a purchase without a conspicuous, well-identified POS counter or waiting line. ...



    Typically, customers in an Apple store only use the easy pay by means of an employee of the store approaching them and saying "I can do that for you right here if you like." I've never heard of anyone being confused about it.
  • Reply 2 of 152
    ivan.rnn01ivan.rnn01 Posts: 1,822member
    Premium class payment terminal. Whuup???
  • Reply 3 of 152
    I'm spotting one major flaw if Apple plans this for international use, like their new store in Paris.



    I see no chip reader. The magnetic stripe reader and a signature is all well and good, but many people are now used to chip and pin.
  • Reply 4 of 152
    hillstoneshillstones Posts: 1,490member
    A portable device that reads credit cards and stores that information, including your signature! In other words, a portable device for stealing someone's identity! No thanks.
  • Reply 5 of 152
    takeotakeo Posts: 417member
    People complain about having an employee offer to check them out on the spot so they don't have to wait in line? WTF?
  • Reply 6 of 152
    b747b747 Posts: 27member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by columbus View Post


    I'm spotting one major flaw if Apple plans this for international use, like their new store in Paris.



    I see no chip reader. The magnetic stripe reader and a signature is all well and good, but many people are now used to chip and pin.



    Not to mention the UK. Signatures aren't even allowed here anymore (I suppose the exception would be international cards with no chip or whatever) but certainly all the UK cards has only chip and pin now.
  • Reply 7 of 152
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by B747 View Post


    Not to mention the UK. Signatures aren't even allowed here anymore (I suppose the exception would be international cards with no chip or whatever) but certainly all the UK cards has only chip and pin now.



    Correct, I'm from the UK. If you try and swipe a card (which has a chip) banks will in many cases will reject it. They want to read the chip, they want to read the pin.



    I'm surprised at Apple, who had the forethought to make the Mac multi-lingual right from the start and lead the way with a multi-lingual software keyboard on the iPhone has overlooked this.



    Next year over half the stores they open are outside the US and they have made a significant investment in a POS device without a chip reader?!!!
  • Reply 8 of 152
    buzdotsbuzdots Posts: 449member
    Good to be finally able to dump the monster CE unit for something "a little more respectable"



    Damn Hillstones, been out much? Portable has nothing to do with that signature reader you sign at grocery stores, Wally World, Costco, Lowes, Home Depot, and a thousand other places - for the last 10 years. Same device, only fixed.
  • Reply 9 of 152
    dogcowdogcow Posts: 713member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hillstones View Post


    A portable device that reads credit cards and stores that information, including your signature! In other words, a portable device for stealing someone's identity! No thanks.



    How is this any different than using any other credit card terminal or even the internet? I doubt CC info is stored on the device locally. It's on a server and transmitted with encryption. That doesn't make it any more or less "safe" than any other transaction processing method.
  • Reply 10 of 152
    this...http://www.amazon.com/Incase-Slider-.../dp/B001NK1TYC



    Is it a coincidence or not that Incase no longer sells the Power Slider?
  • Reply 11 of 152
    teckstudteckstud Posts: 6,476member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post


    Great overview and an interesting device.



    I have to say that I've *never* heard this before though:

    Typically, customers in an Apple store only use the easy pay by means of an employee of the store approaching them and saying "I can do that for you right here if you like." I've never heard of anyone being confused about it.



    Am I actually agreeing with you? I've never nor have any of my colleagues ever had a problem with express check out. In fact we've always been appraoched by the employee or requested it. In and out - 1,2,3.

    never heard anyone say "Do you mind getting in line." They were always eager to use the contraption.
  • Reply 12 of 152
    Apple finally got fed up with those bricks their employees carry around in their back pocket. I know what its like using the Windows CE version of EasyPay through a friend of mine. Those things are so damn bulky and they crash 2 to 3 out of the day. Sometimes the even freeze when you're ringing up a customer. Such a damn hassle that his company replaced them with something else. Really unstable those things. I bet Sony's stores would love to have these techs...
  • Reply 13 of 152
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,217moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by columbus


    I'm spotting one major flaw if Apple plans this for international use, like their new store in Paris.



    I see no chip reader. The magnetic stripe reader and a signature is all well and good, but many people are now used to chip and pin.



    I think that would be covered with the hybrid system - they take the order on the ipod and then you use the desk terminal for the chip/pin processing. I agree it would be faster on the device though.



    What would be quick is if they hooked up itunes/Apple accounts to them as the credit card information is stored already. They could even have a setup where itunes vouchers store up credit and then you can buy something in store with your account details like an actual ipod or accessories instead of just media.



    So someone gets a couple of gift card at Christmas, say £25, they log that in their account online. They go into the store, make an order for a £55 Magic Mouse, the sales person asks the customer to enter username and password, verify the order and that's it - the credit comes off the itunes account and any remaining charge is taken from the card linked to the account.



    I think people see itunes gift cards as being quite valueless when they can only be used for buying media. If you knew you could save them up and get that money off the cost of a laptop, they'd be more popular.



    It's great to see the new setup, they just look way more stylish than the old Windows devices and Apple could make a lot of money if it catches on in other stores. I don't think any store would want to be seen with old, unreliable sales equipment.
  • Reply 14 of 152
    teckstudteckstud Posts: 6,476member
    I wonder how the cash at the work station drawers is working out.
  • Reply 15 of 152
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post


    Great overview and an interesting device.



    I have to say that I've *never* heard this before though:

    Typically, customers in an Apple store only use the easy pay by means of an employee of the store approaching them and saying "I can do that for you right here if you like." I've never heard of anyone being confused about it.



    I haven't heard of it, but I can understand it. When you have customers that are accustomed to a different "retail language" (my words, sorry if it already means something different) than what Apple uses, things can be confusing. Unless told otherwise, people expect to take their purchase to an clearly visible fixed horizontal surface beside a large machine that handles the transaction.
  • Reply 16 of 152
    teckstudteckstud Posts: 6,476member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iGod 2.0 View Post


    Apple finally got fed up with those bricks their employees carry around in their back pocket. I know what its like using the Windows CE version of EasyPay through a friend of mine. Those things are so damn bulky and they crash 2 to 3 out of the day. Sometimes the even freeze when you're ringing up a customer. Such a damn hassle that his company replaced them with something else. Really unstable those things. I bet Sony's stores would love to have these techs...



    If they were as bad as you state Apple would surely not have utilized them for 4 years. Good grief!
  • Reply 17 of 152
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by teckstud View Post


    Am I actually agreeing with you? I've never nor have any of my colleagues ever had a problem with express check out. In fact we've always been appraoched by the employee or requested it. In and out - 1,2,3.

    never heard anyone say "Do you mind getting in line." They were always eager to use the contraption.





    nice signature...
  • Reply 18 of 152
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by teckstud View Post


    If they were as bad as you state Apple would surely not have utilized them for 4 years. Good grief!



    Well they are certainly not good if they are using their own tech to replace it.
  • Reply 19 of 152
    teckstudteckstud Posts: 6,476member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iGod 2.0 View Post


    Well they are certainly not good if they are using their own tech to replace it.



    Good or bad- they absolutely HAD to- they were utilizing PC software! What would Justin Long say?
  • Reply 20 of 152
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by teckstud View Post


    I've never nor have any of my colleagues ever had a problem with express check out. In fact we've always been appraoched by the employee or requested it. In and out - 1,2,3.

    never heard anyone say "Do you mind getting in line." They were always eager to use the contraption.



    Careful, Teckstud. Non-complaining about the previous WinCE-powered system will get you BANNED again. lol



    Hate MS or GTFO!
Sign In or Register to comment.