AT&T is taking cues from Apple Retail and hoping to improve the customer experience with new plans to switch to an iPad-based system in all retail stores over the next two years, completely removing the clunky computers and counters and using smaller pod-like tables instead.
Currently, all AT&T stores use a desktop computer system running OPUS software that functions as their point -of-sale system and is their main source for company and customer information. They have already been taking some steps away from that system by utilizing iPhones and iPads with limited versions of OPUS able to process accessory purchases and provide basic account management.
Now they are developing an iPad version of OPUS that will replicate all functionality the computers currently perform, allowing employees to roam freely around the store with customers rather than being limited to behind the counter. There will be pod-like tables for needs that require a surface, like opening phone packages, and a centralized printer and cash drawer.
For extra security in the new system, stores will have dedicated WiFi base stations meant to specifically power the iPads, and lockers will be installed for iPad storage when not in use. They have yet to finalize how they will process credit cards, and for now will be relying on manual input during the beta stage. It is possible that this means AT&T is planning to develop its own proprietary credit card reading component, but they may just rely on solutions already available in the iPad credit card reading marketplace.
While AT&T plans to complete the transition within a couple of years, they are planning to deploy the iPads for a larger test phase by early next year and have reportedly already begun testing these iPads within the past couple of weeks in a handful of markets.