January 3, 2005, 12:00 AM

To empower employees, Staples puts the web at their fingertips

When customers need product details, Staples store employees can get information on the web through a hand-held Fujitsu iPAD.

When a customer in a Staples store wants more details on a product or warranty, the retailer doesn’t want store associates scurrying off to a desktop PC to check a corporate database. Instead, store associates will now be able to research what they need from a hand-held web-based device, the iPAD from Fujitsu Transaction Solutions Inc.

“The iPAD will improve the operational productivity of our store associates, enabling them to spend more time interacting with our customers,” says Staples CIO Scott Floeck.

Staples is rolling out two iPAD devices in each of 1,200 stores. Fujitsu says the iPADs can be used anywhere in a store for virtually any back-office retail operation, including checking inventory, verifying prices, processing mobile POS transactions and accessing gift registries. The iPADs can also be used to log onto Staples.com to show a store shopper how to use the site or to check online merchandising.

The iPAD runs on the Microsoft Windows CE .NET operating system. CE .NET is Microsoft’s platform for XML web services, which allow applications to communicate and share data over the Internet regardless of operating system or programming language.

The handhelds are designed with touch-screen features to make it easy for workers to transition to the iPAD from desktop-based applications, Fujitsu says. And just in case employees let an iPAD slip through their fingers, it’s designed to withstand 5-foot drops to concrete. m

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