We have already started to see innovative retail use of the larger iPad both in large scale deployments within major corporations as well as within small businesses, but I think that the new iPad Mini is going to be the accelerant that will make these kind of deployments ignite everywhere.
One obvious benefit with the new smaller iPad Mini is its size. It is now truly handheld in a way the original iPad is not.
You will see waiters/waitresses using iPad Minis very soon taking orders at the table instead of having to return to a terminal. They will be able to process payments just like the Apple Store staff does. You will also see specialty hardware for inventory management in big box stores disappear very soon. An iPad Mini coupled with a barcode or RFID reader and an inventory App will do the job better, cheaper and faster. These are just some of many handheld uses the new device will have.
Another major benefit compared to the iPad4 is price. The iPad Mini is significantly less expensive which will make them more disposable and give them a better ROI for large scale deployments. Just hours after the launch, media are already calling the new device overpriced compared to Android devices, which may be true, but compared to legacy specialty hardware used in retail settings, the iPad Mini is a steal.
Expect to see the iPad Mini replace the customer facing POS terminals in your grocery store or big box store within a year. Everyone knows how to use an iOS device but many people can barely input their debit card PIN on the devices today. An iPad Mini would also give the store the ability to add so much more functionality such as displaying upcoming events/sales as well as allowing the customer to input an email address to receive the receipt over email instead of paper etc.
Change is coming. If your company is producing specialty hardware for the retail industry, look out! I would suggest a renewed focus on back-end and system solutions coupled with iOS Apps. The hardware business is gone.