I buy many of my products at Sears, especially in the home improvement category. They have a good selection, prices and an easy no hassle return policy. Recently, however, Sears has instituted a change that is driving me crazy. In an effort to bring new technology to bear, Sears has given iPads to its associates to ring customers up for their purchases. I understand the idea. With iPads, Sears associates can ring customers up right where they are standing, no need to move to a traditional register and no need to stand in line and wait at a traditional register for someone else to be rung up.
The problem is the past two times I have been in Sears buying something, the checkout process took forever, literally more than twice as long. Customers are left hanging as Sears associates fumble with the iPad, trying to figure out how to complete the checkout process. I don’t know if the software is not well engineered or the staff has not been given enough training, but Sears has a serious problem with this new tech. And it’s not just me, my wife also experienced the same issue. In her case, a manager had to be called over to complete the checkout. I also discovered a major flaw in the return process and the iPads. It turns out if you were checked out on an iPad, your purchase cannot be looked up on a traditional register where the return has to be processed. One day I stood for more than a half an hour as three different employees tried to figure out how to process my simple return. Training of thousands of employees and data integration are hard issues, but Sears is dropping the ball bringing iPads into their retail process. What should be making the buying experience faster and easier is making it slower and miserable.
iPads certainly are changing the retail landscape. Many of my local small coffee shops are using an iPad and the Square technology. It makes me realize how far we have come when I look at those archaic old IBM registers at Sears, Macy’s and so many other department stores. How many years until we look back at iPads as archaic as we check ourselves out with our Google Glass?