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At the cash register, tech rings up change

Dell, Hewlett-Packard and IBM announce new point-of-sale systems, services and upgrades for the retail sector.

Tech heavyweights continue to queue up at the checkout lines in the retail sector.

Dell on Monday teamed up with Intuit to offer point-of-sale (POS) software with its hardware. Hewlett-Packard announced a new service that lets retailers migrate to its rp5000 POS device. Separately, IBM said it struck a deal with Sears, Roebuck to upgrade the retailer's cash systems.

The announcements were made at the National Retail Federation's Annual Convention and Expo in New York.

Dell said it will offer two retail packages that include its OptiPlex desktop PC, QuickBooks software from Intuit, and other hardware gear such as a receipt printer and bar code scanner. The Intuit software tracks inventory, sales and customer information. Dell will support all hardware, and Intuit will provide software support. The cost of the packages starts at $3,739.

"Our work with Intuit is an extension of Dell's strategy to drive down the cost of technology to the retail industry," Frank Muehleman, senior vice president at Dell, said in a statement.

Austin, Texas-based Dell is a relative newcomer in the cash register market, which has become a popular niche for technology companies. HP last summer announced its HP rp5000 point-of-sale terminal, essentially a PC-based cash register. The company said it has sold some 40,000 units of the device since its launch.

HP's latest service is aimed at helping retailers migrate from proprietary POS technology to its rp5000 device and other standards-based customer transaction systems. It is an extension of Microsoft's "Quick Start" migration tool. The deal between the Palo Alto, Calif., PC giant and Microsoft will let existing users of HP's POS hardware join Microsoft's Smarter Retailing Initiative. Retailers can purchase the service from HP or any of its retail channel partners.

"It's our aim to drive higher customer satisfaction and revenue through innovative IT applications without forcing retailers to make an open-ended commitment to a single vendor's product road map and cost structure," said a statement from Ross Kelly, vice president for HP Services.

Meanwhile, IBM will install its SurePOS 740 systems and other hardware, such as receipt printers and touch displays, at Sear stores throughout the United States. The launch is likely to be finished by June of next year. Under the agreement, IBM will provide Sears with integration and installation services. Financial terms of the deal were not released.

Big Blue said the Internet capabilities of SurePOS 740 will let Sears sales staff handle transactions from the stores as well as from the Web.

"This is an important part of Sears' commitment to enhancing customer service, speeding checkout, and adding new services that give Sears' customers a seamless shopping experience, whether they are shopping in the store or online at Sears.com," Michael Buxton, Sears vice president, said in a statement.