Apple Stores, Touch2Systems, and the iPad
By David Dorf on Feb 04, 2010
Whenever we talk about leading-edge retail, Apple always seems to come up. Their stores seem to defy conventional thinking, especially the fact that there are no visible checkout stands. Their switch from a traditional POS to a mobile POS has changed the way we think about the in-store experience.
At NRF I met David Francis, who is helping InfoGain build a mobile POS that's integrated to Oracle's POS product and leverages the same hardware (from Infinite Peripherals) used in Apple stores. As a consultant to Apple Inc., David drove development of their mobile POS application for global deployment on the iPod Touch platform. Now he is looking to bring that same power to other retailers with his new venture Touch2 Systems. Below is a short Q&A I had with David:
How did you get started developing apps for the iPhone?As a firm, we've been developing enterprise applications on the OS X platform in Cocoa for nearly 10 years. When the iPhone SDK was announced, we saw an immediate opportunity to leverage our expertise in this space to develop iPhone applications. We realized that we were uniquely positioned to work in this space. We were approached by Apple in spring of 2008 about the mobile POS solution and started work shortly thereafter. So we have a nearly 2 year head start in developing and deploying this system.
Were there any particularly tough problems you had to overcome with Apple's mobile POS solution?
When we started working on the solution, it was a new frontier. No one had ever built anything like it on an Apple mobile device. Armed with our knowledge of the Apple platform, we set out to build something that was world class. It had to be fast, it had to be secure, and it had to be sexy. We went through many iterations of the technology and the user interface to give it that Apple look and feel and superior ease of use. Our efforts were rewarded when the system was rolled out. As sales associates started adopting it, they indicated that it was very intuitive and light years ahead of their old system.
How is development on InfoGain's mobile POS coming?
The development has been very smooth. We were able to move quickly and guide Infogain's team given the experience we developed with Apple (which is also based on 360Commerce's POS). We have a working proof of concept in our labs and expect to begin installing it for customers this month.
What did you think of the recent iPad announcement? Do you think the iPad will play a large role in retail?
I believe that enterprises are just starting to recognize the impact that Apple technology can have on their organizations. Most retailers have a younger work force, most of whom are already familiar with how the iPhone/iPod Touch interface works. Adopting a business system with a similar interface comes very natural to them. With the iPad, Apple has brought it's revolutionary touch screen technology to a larger form factor. Clearly this will enable many other solutions, especially in retail where stores can offer fixed POS functionality in addition to mobile technology. With such a compelling price point compared to traditional POS systems, this technology is in a great position to revolutionize the retail landscape.