The Self-Checkout Future: Customized, Faster And More Dangerous

Jane's contactless loyalty card is detected as the Des Moines attorney approaches the self-checkout. The system knows the counselor's shopping history and anticipates that the counselor likely has a dozen kiwis in her cart.

So when she places the barcode-less fruit on the scale, the first fruit it displays in its list is kiwi, followed by the four fruits and vegetables that Jane typically buys. Other fruits and vegetables follow alphabetically after Jane's favorites have been displayed. Given how many fruits Jane buys each time, this shaves a precious 108 seconds off of her checkout.

The Battle: Nordstrom Customer Service Vs. Buy-Online-Pick-Up-In-Store

Nordstrom on Tuesday (May 20) said they would support buy-online-pick-up-in-store for the first time. This e-commerce cross-channel classic has been popular for several years, but Nordstrom—with its stronger than average commitment to customer service—has resisted until now.

The chain is initially testing it with Women's apparel, Men's apparel, Women's Shoes and Cosmetics, with Nordstrom saying that it "plans to offer this service for all merchandise categories by September." It will be interesting to see how the chain's legendary customer service handles it. The expectations of a Nordstrom's customer will be much higher than the customers for most chains that have tried buy-online-pick-up-in-store.

Can Microsoft Make Search-Engine-Specific Pricing Work?

Microsoft's announcement this week that it would offer rebates for purchases made through its search engine is shaking the E-Commerce world. But the very lengthy list of gotchas—including making consumers wait potentially 11 weeks after purchases before seeing the rebate checks—is raising questions about whether this approach will work.

The idea of offering consumers financial bribes if they use a particular search engine has been tried before, without success. But Microsoft's entry into this field—the latest in a series of Redmond gambits to try and breathe life into its search engine—is different from earlier efforts.

Mervyns Decides The Web Might Be More Than A Fad

The 59-year-old Mervyns department store chain, with 177 stores in seven states and about $2.5 billion in annual revenue, certainly can't be accused of rushing into technological fads. On Tuesday...

GuestView: Most Retailers Are Holding Off Server Virtualization. That's A Bad Idea

Guestview Columnist David Taylor worries when he sees that more than 75 percent of enterprises are holding off on deploying server virtualization in the cardholder environment until PCI clarifies matters.

But there really is no reason to wait. Why? The proof is in the tracking tools. Whether the 1.2 release of PCI DSS in October 2008 specifically addresses server, network and desktop virtualization is less important than being able to provide proof to your PCI assessor that you can control, manage and track access to card data continuously.

Checkpoint Chooses Cheesy Chore

The grocery challenge with the theft of moist, fresh products--such as cheese--has frustrated retail loss prevention managers because such products tend to react poorly with EAS tags. Checkpoint and...

Search Engine Shopping Is Causing More Abandoned Shopping Carts

As more consumers use search engines to find products filtered by a single attribute--such as price--shopping cart abandonment rates are increasing, according to E-Commerce vendor MarketLive, which...

Kimberly-Clark Tries To Replicate Retail Trials With Virtual Reality

Using virtual reality, $18 billion consumer goods giant Kimberly-Clark is creating virtual depictions of stores, shelves, products and displays—even sounds and smells people encounter while...

Some British Retailers Secretly Tracking Customers, Using Their Cellphone's Transmissions

A pair of British shopping centers is experimenting with a creative way to leverage consumer cellphones. The consumers are being surreptitiously tracked by the signals emitted by all mobile devices...

Nilson: Payment Card Retail Purchases Increased More Than $201 Billion Last Year

Although this doesn't shed any light on this year's recession, American consumers were certainly spending-friendly last year, having spent with retailers $201 billion more last year than the year...

Napster's MP3 Move Part Of Trend: Entertain Them Now, Sell 'Em The Big Stuff Later

To use a chess analogy, many e-tailers today see the strength of their multimedia entertainment offerings as akin to controlling the center of the board. On top of recent moves by Sears, Blockbuster...

Report: RFID Market To Hit $9.7 Billion By 2013

The RFID market has a healthy future, looking at a 15 percent compound annual growth rate over the next five years, hitting $9.7 billion by 2013, according to a report issued Tuesday (May 20) by ABI...

Will Sears' More Intensive Online Strategy Be Enough?

Facing a much tighter financial picture (the latest quarterly report saw comparable net income almost cut in half), Sears has turned to online operations as its best hope for better margins. Sears on May 15 announced "a large-scale expansion of its online store" with a "nearly quadrupling (of) the number of products available on"

Sears is in a fascinating online position. On the one hand, the $50 billion 3,800-store-chain says its online numbers are soaring, with the number of unique visitors in February 2008 reportedly rising 20 percent in that month. But has also run into quite a few speedbumps.

BestBuy's Site Recommends Windows-Only Software For Linux Laptop

A tech blogger noticed something strange when trying to purchase a Linux laptop on The system's automatic recommendations for that Linux-based laptop included Windows versions of...

Face-Recognition Biometrics To Look For Under-Age Consumers

Some British convenience stores are trialing a facial biometric program to try and improve the accuracy of guessing the age of customers for age-restricted alcohol purchases. The systems "capture...

Has Tesco Figured Out How To Make All-Self-Checkout Work?

Tesco's experiment with an all-self-checkout store in the U.S. is delivering surprisingly favorable customer satisfaction stats. Internal Tesco customer surveys for its Fresh & Easy stores are...

Verichip Puts Itself Up For Sale, Parts Ways With CEO

Controversial RFID vendor Verichip on May 15 announced that it is selling much of the company, wants to sell the rest of it and that the company has parted ways with its CEO, Scott Silverman.Verichip...

Trick Or Treat? New PCI Version To Be Here By Halloween

By this Halloween, the PCI Council will unveil the first major revision of the PCI DSS payment card security program in two years. But with the council not releasing any true details about the changes, nervous retailers are truly wondering "Trick or Treat?"

Robert Russo, general manager of the PCI Council and a man who never met an acronym he didn't like (when we chatted, he tried turning QA into a verb—and he frighteningly got darn close), is trying to play down the significance of the new version, describing the modifications as "minor changes."

Dave & Buster's Data Breach Indictment: Apps Crash For The Bad Guys, Too

It was April 2007 when a pair of cyberthieves from the Ukraine and Estonia set out to try and grab payment card data from the 49-store Dave & Buster's restaurant chain. But according to a federal indictment and a U.S. Secret Service affidavit unsealed May 12, 2008, the pair quickly discovered that software can be an equal-opportunity crasher.

"As a result of a defect in the software program for the packet sniffer, the packet sniffer automatically deactivated whenever the compromised (Dave & Buster's) POS servers rebooted in the normal course of the operation of the servers," the indictment said. "Therefore, in order for the packet sniffers to capture data from the compromised D&B POS servers on an ongoing basis, the defendants had to regularly reactivate the packet sniffers." This group might even have had a hand in the TJX incident.

In E-Commerce Satisfaction: Netflix, QVC On Top; PCMall, Home Depot On Bottom

That which keeps consumers satisfied seems to be part of an E-Commerce site's culture, as top (and bottom) players tend to show little movement, year to year. The latest results from measurement firm...