STORES STARTING TO USE MOBILE POS CARTS

RICHMOND, British Columbia -- T&T Supermarkets here, a 12-store Asian-oriented chain, is using battery-powered mobile point-of-sale carts in food courts, in parking lots for special promotions, and as extra checkouts.T&T has been using seven carts at two Toronto locations since July, moving them between stores to make the most of peak periods. They have also been employed at stores in Toronto, Calgary

RICHMOND, British Columbia -- T&T Supermarkets here, a 12-store Asian-oriented chain, is using battery-powered mobile point-of-sale carts in food courts, in parking lots for special promotions, and as extra checkouts.

T&T has been using seven carts at two Toronto locations since July, moving them between stores to make the most of peak periods. They have also been employed at stores in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver.

The carts, from PowerCart Systems, Markham, Ontario, incorporate auxiliary battery power to operate POS systems, as well as scanners and printers, on a mobile basis.

"We find that the PowerCart is great as additional express checkout lanes," said Melina Hung, marketing manager of T&T Supermarkets. "We estimate that its productivity is about 50% of a manually operated checkout lane." Both Toronto stores were able to maximize their floor space without losing retail space, while keeping up with demand, she said.

Since August, Meijer, Grand Rapids, Mich., has been using the carts to help out at grand openings of new stores in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. They're used to help manage fluctuating demand and reduce checkout wait times. They're also brought into play for special promotions, sidewalk and garden sales, and training, according to PowerCart.

"The carts started appearing in supermarkets less than three years ago, but started getting a lot of momentum in the past year due to the wireless activity surge," said Celia Stone, spokeswoman for PowerCart.

The retail POS carts are designed to look similar to a store's conventional cash counter, said Stone. The typical cart price is around $3,000, depending on power configuration, which is determined by the time a store needs the carts to run before charging, the time available to recharge, and the power draw of the components running on the cart.

The basic cart comes with a 100-amp power battery, 10-amp charger and 150-watt inverter, which will give a store a minimum of two shifts of run time, said PowerCart.