Macy's Tests Tablets in 350 Stores, Expands WiFi Access

This fall, Macy's will begin a 350-store test of tablets and handheld devices to engage customers in select merchandise areas. The retailer has also started installing free WiFi service to enable customer use of smart mobile devices, with plans to have more than 300 locations upgraded by the end of October.

The department store retailer is spotlighting a wide range of its technology initiatives, including expanding its use of brick-and-mortar stores for e-commerce fulfillment; a 10-store test of interactive kiosks in its cosmetics department; and the replacement of signature pads at all 50,000 POS terminals with VeriFone devices that will enable the company to test emerging transaction processing technologies such as Google Wallet. The rollout will be completed by fall 2012.

"As we build our culture of growth at Macy's, Inc., it is important that we develop and test new ideas so we can learn and continue to improve," said Macy's president and CEO Terry Lundgren in a statement. "In particular, we are using technology in our stores to mirror the online shopping experience, and adding functionality and content online to provide customers with additional assistance in product selection."

The tablet test will take place this fall in 350 stores to help customers research and select skin care products at Macy's and Bloomingdale's Clinique counters, in the shoe departments of five Bloomingdale's stores and in the fine jewelry departments of 25 Macy's locations.

By the end of October, the retailer will offer full public WiFi access in 230 Macy's and nine Bloomingdale's locations, with WiFi access in junior's and young men's departments in another 79 Macy's stores.

Macy's Search & Send initiative, which provides point-of-sale access to the retailer's online inventory for items that are out-of-stock at the store, has been expanded to include fulfillment from 23 selected Macy's stores across the country. In 2012, more than 100 Macy's stores with broad merchandise assortments will be part of the fulfillment network. Products are delivered to customers' home or workplace, with free shipping for orders of $50 or more.

The Beauty Spot cosmetics concept features an interactive kiosk that allows customers to search and select products from various product categories across multiple brands. A dedicated associate will assist customers and process credit card transactions using a handheld mobile device. Four stores will test Beauty Spot kiosks that feature interactive touchscreens, and six stores will test kiosks without this feature. The kiosks use Intel processors and touchscreen technology and were developed by Possible Worldwide in partnership with Macy's.

For related content see: Macy's, Walgreens and Guess Sign on to Test Google Wallet