At this year’s NRF Annual Convention one of the trend words was “Mobile.” There’s a lot of discussion around what “mobile” means for retailers and restaurant operators as it pertains to engaging their customers. More retailers as well as restaurants are deploying mobile iPad’s, iPod’s and tablets at the store level to accommodate and enhance the shopping or dining experience and create more selling opportunities.

In an Insight article I wrote a few months back titled “Going Mobile in the Store”, I highlighted a few retailers that are beginning to go in this direction. In particular, this trend appears to be taking root in the Apparel and Department store industries. Innovative retailers Noardstrom, JCPenney, Gucci, Pacific Sunwear, and Urban Outfitters have either iPads or iPods installed in some or all stores and all are used in a variety of capacities – from inventory checkups to point of sale to displaying employee training videos.

The latest apparel retailer to jump on the Mobile bandwagon is Guess? Inc. According to Chain Store Guide, Guess? Inc. operates over 480 stores. The company currently has iPad’s deployed in about 25 stores so far and plans to significantly expand these throughout 2012. “For the cost of a kiosk, I can put in four or five of these,” said Guess CIO Michael Relich. The tablets make a great vehicle to effectively show demos and check inventory, and offer a platform for customer friendly interaction.

Sporting goods and apparel retailer Bass Pro Shops also recently announced their plan for mobile implementation. The company will roll out iPod Touch technology in pilot stores in two phases. The first phase, which starts this month, incorporates iPod Touch technology to enable customers’ purchases to be scanned while waiting in line and then payment is accepted at the register. Stage two is the mobile point of sale solution which enables the iPod to accept the payment.

There’s no doubt that mobile is on the move, and this year will bring more of these announcements. Companies are already planning or are in the process of implementing these mobile solutions for their customers. It’s certainly gaining the most momentum in the apparel and department store industries, but look for more companies in the home center and restaurant industries to keep rolling these out.