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Apple Revamping Retail Store Staffing and Checkout Tools

ifoAppleStore reports that Apple is tweaking several aspects of its retail store operations as it moves into the holiday sales season. Among the changes are an adjustment to color-coded t-shirts for various types of employees and a shift from using Windows CE-based EasyPay mobile checkout devices to iPod touches using barcode scanner accessories and custom point-of-sale software.

According to the report, Apple will abandon its existing policy of having its various classes of employees (such as concierges, specialists, creative, and geniuses) attired in different colors of Apple t-shirts and shift to a single color of t-shirt for all employees. The color of the t-shirt would change over time, but a consistent color for all employees at one time will likely make it easier for customers to identify store employees.

First, Apple will drop the aircraft carrier-like T-shirts that are color-coded to indicate the employees' skills. Visitors have reported that seeing orange, dark blue, light blue, medium blue and black T-shirts is simply confusing. Beginning soon, the entire store staff will wear the same color T-shirt, with that color changing from time to time.

MacRumors has separately heard that Apple is also planning to consolidate several of its retail store positions in order to allow more flexibility in the tasks handled by each sales floor employee.

Apple's switch to the iPod touch as a checkout device will address several issues, not the least of which has been reported frustration on the part of retail store employees over the performance of the current EasyPay devices. The new iPod touch-based systems will reportedly allow for a single pass of the barcode reader to register multiple codes present on many Apple products, speeding the checkout process. The new system will also reportedly allow sales staff to accept cash for transactions.

First, the iPod touch scanner will allow employees to capture data from products that have multiple barcodes using a single pass, including the UPC, Apple serial number and product code, cellular IMEI and ICCI numbers. Second, the new set-up will allow employees to accept cash for purchases without hiking to a central register position.

Apple has been taking several steps to alter the functionality of its retail stores as they remain popular with customers, many of whom are unfamiliar with the company's products. Last month, the company rolled out iPhone Activation Zones to assist iPhone purchasers with picking up and preparing their devices for use in what can be a crowded and confusing retail store setting.