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Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone first to allow scanning by standard POS systems

BY Alaric DeArment

SAN FRANCISCO — A new technology will allow standard point-of-sale laser scanners to scan coupons, loyalty cards and gift cards on the Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone without any changes to existing technology.

Mobeam, which presented at a recent Samsung event in New York, said the Galaxy S4 would be the first smartphone to integrate its light-based communications technology to beam traditional 1-D barcodes. The company said the vast majority of existing point-of-sale systems are unable to communicate with smartphones. Mobeam converts barcodes, coupons, loyalty cards and gift cards into a beam of light than can be read by standard laser scanners.

"Mobeam’s vision is simple: to make mobile commerce work with existing point of sale technology," Mobeam CEO Chris Sellers said. "Making cutting-edge smartphones work with barcodes might not sound sexy, but it means consumers now have the ability to beam items such as coupons, loyalty cards, gift cards and event tickets at millions of locations — something that was previously impossible. Barcodes are universal and won’t be replaced any time soon, meaning retailers don’t need to upgrade their existing POS systems."

Mobeam has also partnered with Procter & Gamble to create a mobile coupon system that the companies said would make shopping with coupons easier and faster for consumers and retailers at the same time.

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Kroger declares quarterly dividend of 15 cents per share

BY Michael Johnsen

CINCINNATI — Kroger’s board of directors on Thursday declared a quarterly dividend of 15¢ per share to be paid on June 1 to shareholders of record as of the close of business on May 15.

In 2012, the company’s board of directors raised the quarterly dividend by approximately 30%, to 15¢ per share. Since reinstating dividends in 2006, Kroger has increased the dividend each year and expects to continue to do so, the company noted.

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Target buys Cooking.com, CHEFS Catalog

BY Alaric DeArment

MINNEAPOLIS — Target Corp. has purchased two online retailers of cooking equipment in a move designed to expand its cooking and kitchenware business, said the mass merchandise retailer, which has lately made major investments in multichannel retailing.

Target announced the purchase of Cooking.com and CHEFS Catalog, both of which will continue to operate under their current names as a single, wholly owned subsidiary of Target. Financial terms of the deals were not disclosed.

"We are excited to bring CHEFS and Cooking.com into the Target family," Target SVP enterprise strategy and president of multichannel Casey Carl said. "We know consumers are increasingly looking online for cooking solutions to make their lives easier — from utensils and cookware to recipes. These strategic transactions provide us a great way to address this growing opportunity and will offer expanded online options for our guests."

CHEFS president and CEO Tim Littleton will become president of the subsidiary, reporting to Carl, while Cooking.com CEO and co-founder Tracy Randall will become a consultant to Target.

"We’re delighted to be a part of the Target organization," Littleton said. "CHEFS has grown and thrived online by offering a well-edited selection of leading kitchen tools, gadgets and accessories. Combined with Cooking.com and their strong Powered By partnerships, their vast array of recipes and user-driven product ratings and reviews, we believe we’re well-positioned to provide an even richer online experience for our collective customers."

In a call with analysts in late February to discuss the company’s fourth quarter and fiscal year 2012 earnings, the company said its planned announcements in supply chain and technology, including multichannel, would equal investments in stores themselves. Earlier this month, Target announced a partnership with Fast Company magazine to sponsor a competition to develop a new mobile experience for the retailer to coincide with the SXSW conference in Austin, Texas. Mobile purchases constitute more than 7% of the company’s sales, while mobile traffic constitutes more than 25% of overall digital traffic.

 

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