Woolworths plans mobile tills to ease the rush at Christmas

Woolworths is hoping to beat the Christmas crush by rolling out 1,018 Chip and PIN-ready mobile tills to 500 of its stores.

The retailer expects six times as many customers at Christmas. Shoppers in a hurry should look out for cashiers wearing bright yellow Queue Buster jackets, pushing trolleys with flags on them.

The Queue Busters are equipped with two wireless hand-held devices. The first, from Dione, swipes credit cards and issues receipts, while the second, from Nordic ID, scans product barcodes. Episys performed the integration between the terminals and the retailer's back-end systems.

'They're just like a till, but they don't take cash,' said Woolworths director of MIS Tony Godwin. 'You can never have enough tills.'

The cost of the project was not specified, but the key motivation was about customer service rather than financial reward, said Godwin. 'Customers don't have time to queue,' he explained.

Queue Busters already feature in 320 Woolworths stores, but the equipment was not Chip and PIN compliant, forcing the retailer to switch to the Dione terminals.

Woolworths is waiting to have the Queue Busters accredited for Chip and PIN by the credit card acquirer, and hopes this will happen before the January 1 deadline. Failing this, the 'drop-dead milestone' for certification is Easter.

Godwin said he thought the accreditation process would be quicker than with the fixed tills, because the hand-held units reuse much of the software.

The retailer's fixed EPoS installation was accredited on Monday, but took longer than expected.