Apple Sets EasyPay Goal

October 3, 2006

The grand opening of the Providence (RI) and Columbia (Md.) retail stores revealed an uneasingly-few number of POS positions at the rear counter–two. But Apple’s decision makes more sense when you realize there’s a chain-wide goal of to process 30 percent of purchases with the devices. The performance goal won’t provide a reward for employees. On the contrary, stores not using the Symbol devices enough will reportedly receive warnings from Cupertino, and even other store managers who are meeting the goal. Apple will no doubt also be tracking its credit card chargeback or disputed purchase rate, now that signatures aren’t obtained from EasyPay customers. Credit card companies don’t like chargeback rates of more than about one percent of total purchases. The lack of signatures is just one less proof that Apple could provide if a customer disputes a charge. There are other issues with the handhelds, too.

Intended to implement what the industry calls line busting, the handhelds were introduced at the start of the 2005 holiday sales season to reduce customer waiting lines. Even with Genius Bars acting as check-out positions, the stores are jammed as Christmas approaches. And a just-released survey by Novations Group found that 75 percent of customers cited long lines as the biggest downside to holiday shopping (followed by too few employees, out-of-stock, poor service and store employees who don’t know merchandise).

As reported here almost a year ago, the handheld computers have a battery life of just one hour (officially rated at 2.5 hours), and have a tendency to re-boot, sometimes during a transaction. The wireless Wi-Fi connection is reportedly sketchy, depending upon the unit’s location within the store. Customers say that buying a computer or iPod at the POS will automatically register their product with Apple. However, a purchase via EasyPay doesn’t complete that registration process, leaving the customer to perform the task at home. And perhaps worst, the e-mail receipt system doesn’t work about 25% of the time, some claim, leaving customers without proof of their purchase, which could complicate a product return.

The handheld computers list for about $1,400, but presumably Apple received a substantial discount to equip 160+ stores with the devices. Even so, Apple has invested at least $2 million in the devices, card swipers, chargers, extra batteries and training.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Apple Employee October 3, 2006 at 1903

Easy Pay is everything but for the employee. Battery life is poor. Reliability is poor. The system is slow, slow slow. Did I mention slow. Whenever I scan a credit card it usually takes 3 scans to get a read on the card. Most customers hate the idea of an emailed recipt. They want it at the time of the transaction. I love working at the store but I would sure love to know who thinks these things are a good idea. I think it’s someone who never has to use one.

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Another Apple Employee October 4, 2006 at 0823

The EasyPay system has some bugs, but definately fits Apple’s “Think Different” theme. Who doesn’t hate long lines and back-ups at a store cash-wrap? EasyPay allows you to step 2 steps into a store, tell someone what you want, pay for it and leave. No line, no wait, no trouble. We would not have survived holiday last year if it weren’t for EasyPay. FYI: Customers can either have thier receipt emailed, printed, or both. Every store has wireless printers synced to each EasyPay.

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Another Apple Employee October 6, 2006 at 1428

easy pay’s are great! they have their quirks, but, are very good at line busting, and showcase how forward thinking the stores are. at my store, we love them. our customers are very happy that there’s the ability for every employee in the store to be ringing up customers all at once.

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Another Apple Employee October 9, 2006 at 2154

EasyPay is good but, sigh, it does have its quirks.

Oh, and EasyPay was NEVER ment to be a “line buster”; it’s supposed to be the new wave of POS, thus the goals being implimented.

Imagine a store with no conventional CashWrap. This would not only revolutionalize retail but also give that much more sellable floor space (very important in smaller stores).

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