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    IBM Launches Self-service Checkout Technology

    NEW YORK -- Thanks to new IBM technology, consumers can now check out selected items at practically any location in a store. Big Blue's first-of-a-kind self checkout technology solutions provides consumer with self-service options and gives retailers a new tool for building customer advocacy for their brands, CNNMoney reported.

    "Today's market environment is tough and competitive, and there is huge pressure on retailers to transform and innovate, all driven by a need to change the shopping experience for consumers," Steve Ladwig, general manager of retail store solutions, told CNNMoney. "The IBM AnyPlace Checkout allows us to help our clients serve their customers in totally new ways, answering consumer demand for easy-to-use self service in more places than ever before."

    In conjunction with the aforementioned release, IBM also revealed new additional software geared toward further enhancing the speed of the self checkout process through a new state-of-the-art, entry-level kiosk. Designed for small businesses and large enterprise departments, the IBM AnyPlace Checkout system is the next major step in self checkout innovation, explained Ladwig. Clients are given the best of both worlds by the combination of the ultra-compact footprint of the market-leading IBM AnyPlace Kiosk with the robust capabilities of IBM self checkout software.

    The platform comes at the right time as a recent customer purchasing survey conducted by National In-Store concluded that 10 percent of shoppers who left a store without making a purchase cited the wait to check out as a factor in their decision not to buy. The survey also noted that when forced to wait in line for more than four minutes, customer satisfaction levels fall below 80 percent.

    With consumers estimated to spend $230.7 billion on self-checkout transactions at retail spaces in the coming year, an estimated 28 percent increase, consumers are becoming more comfortable with the process. According to an IHL Group 2007 market study on self checkout, 98 percent of respondents have used self checkouts, almost 50 percent have used it more than five times in the previous year, and 72 percent have readily accepted the technology in the marketplace.

    "Self checkout not only continues to gain widespread acceptance with consumers, but we are also seeing that self-service solutions are paying off for retailers," Greg Buzek, president of IHL Consulting Group, told CNNMoney. "Our research shows that retailers that have embraced self-service technologies are redeploying labor to key profit areas, improving customer service with more lanes and improving profitability by increasing the number of profitable transactions."

    Complete with a new self checkout design, the IBM AnyPlace Checkout system touts new features and enhanced flexibility designed to make it easier for consumers to scan and pay for their items quickly, regardless of store size. Software enhancements include:

    -- Small Footprint: Designed with the IBM AnyPlace Kiosk at its core, this unit offers one of the smallest self checkout footprints available;
    -- Customized Enclosures: Offers flexibility to utilize a variety of enclosures including customized designs by IBM Global Technology Services or third party vendors;
    -- Cashless: units offering credit/debit payment options only, to speed transactions by eliminating the time it takes to accept and dispense bills and coins;
    -- Manageability: A component of IBM Store Integration Framework, the Remote Management Agent (RMA)enables retailers to achieve end-to-end store systems management of retail devices and applications along side traditional IT deployment.

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