Industry observers tell the Chicago Tribune the tablet computers will soon be found in all kinds of emporiums, from supermarkets to department stores to posh boutiques.
"Everybody has something in development," said Ken Nisch, chairman of JGA, a retail design firm in Southfield, Mich. "This is not going to be a novelty. It's going to be a sea change in how retailers transact and interact with customers."
Since Apple launched the device last spring, Burberry, Puma, Things Remembered, Converse and Nordstrom, among other retailers, have begun testing tablets at selected outlets around the country.
IPads are being used as mobile catalogs where clerks and customers can peruse inventory not available on the shelves. They are being attached to counters so shoppers can design their own products. Sales staff use them to gather customer data. And they are testing them as portable cash registers.
"It is taking retail outside the four walls to where the customers are," Sandeep Bhanote, chief executive officer of Global Bay Mobile Technologies, a New Jersey mobile retail software firm, told the Tribune. "You're talking about changing the way you do business."