We rarely think about the mobility solutions of the retail industry—that is, the mobile tools that store employees use to be more productive during heavy shopping seasons. According to a recent survey put out by Motorola during the 2007 Holiday Shopping season, the lack of effective mobile solutions is actually hurting sales—as much as 40 percent this past year. ‘Bout time those big-box retailers start paying us a bit more attention, eh? The problem, according to Motorola, is a communications gap between customer service representatives and shoppers. Store-goers are annoyed with long lines, and are upset that there aren’t enough staffers to help make purchasing decisions. Normally the staff of a store is split up: some people run the cash registers, some are wandering as customer service, and some may be out bar coding and working on inventory. Motorola believes the solution is in a multi-faceted communications and data tool, and it’s no surprise that it has released its own, the CA50. The CA50 aims to increase productivity by providing a bar coding, data, and VoIP device in one. It’s a solution that allows workers to stay in touch with each-other, without having to carry multiple devices, as well as help the customer. One example could be as follows: you call Best Buy to see if a laptop is in stock. However, the PC desk worker has stepped away on to the store floor to scan inventory and misses your call, and hence, a sale. Motorola’s technology allows the ability to redirect the desk call to the worker on the show floor via VoIP. The age of “paging John Doe to register 5…John Doe register 5” is over. Judging by the picture, the CA50 looks fairly basic, but this is probably a solid device for the sometimes-not-so-brilliant box boys. We’re also wondering why the phone doesn’t have a dial-pad; it seems that would help workers be even more productive. You know, for like dialing 9-1-1 if there’s a fire in the warehouse or something. There’s no word on pricing yet, but Motorola says the device will be available in the first quarter of 2008 through its sales department and its business partners. Stay tuned for our review of the Big Box Retailers in our March issue.