STORES Magazine - May 2009 - (Page 38)

WORTH WATCHING / SHOPPER TRAFFIC Locate, Locate, Locate UWB RFID being tested for merchandising, LP applications BY DAVID P. SCHULZ I t’s not exactly separating wheat from chaff, but when monitoring p e o p l e ’s mo ve ment in and around a store, separating the shoppers from the sales associates would be helpful. nology, the real-time location system follows shopper traffic as it gravitates to the targeted display and can determine the amount of time shoppers spend at the display. Loyalty card data In addition to being embedded in employee badges and affixed to shopping carts, UWB RFID tags can be attached to shopping bags, loyalty cards and similar items given to customers. With a loyalty card, for instance, data could be downloaded at POS to see how effective a particular display was or how long the shopper spent in particular areas of the store. That data could be used to determine the effectiveness of store layouts and product adjacencies and for analyzing other store metrics. The reader/receivers for the UWB RFID tags’ transmissions currently have two configurations: one is designed to replace drop-ceiling tiles, and the other looks similar to video surveillance cameras. UWB RFID tags and readers are reusable, making estimates as to the true cost of implementation difficult. Other variables include whether the tags will be in fast or frequent motion or in relatively stationary and static locations. As a “guesstimate,” Clawson says a system for a mall-sized store “could be had for about $2,000, including accessories and peripherals.” StORES David P. Schulz, a New York-based writer and editor, reports on U.S. and foreign retailers for several publications. WWW.STORES.ORG ShopperTrak, the Chicago-based consumer research firm, uses its Orbit technology to follow the people coming into, and moving around, a store. To distinguish between consumers and store personnel, it went to Time Domain for its ultra-wideband (UWB) RFID technology. Unlike narrow-band RFID tags, UWB can provide a precise location and be tracked on a continuous basis, says Greg Clawson, vice president of sales and marketing for Huntsville, Ala.-based Time Domain. In addition, battery life for the active models can reach eight years. After demonstrating UWB RFID’s capabilities in the health care field, Time Domain is running about a dozen retail pilot projects and test programs. (At the Nesconset Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation on Long Island, N.Y., for example, UWB tags allowed for the tracking of doctors, nurses and other hospital personnel, as well as mobile medical equipment used on the facility’s dementia and Alzheimer’s patients.) In the test with ShopperTrak, a retailer wanted to know detailed information about the interaction between customers and sales floor associates. Time Domain’s UWB RFID chips were embedded in store employee name tags; ShopperTrak’s Orbit 5 system involves a video sensor tied to a counting algorithm. The pairing of the two technologies allows for the segregation of data involv38 STORES / MAY 2009 ing movement of consumers and employees in areas of the store such as island POS stations, dressing rooms and store entrances/exits. Because UWB RFID is a real-time location system, the paths of movement — by employees, customers, shopping carts or whatever is being monitored — can be determined in an instant. This capability also makes UWB RFID valuable as a security device. Placed on high-ticket merchandise or equipment, a reader can pick up the movement of items in a smash-and-grab theft. The path the thief takes in making his or her getaway can be followed through the store. Even if the thief makes it out the exit without being apprehended, knowing the exact time the merchandise was stolen will assist investigators in obtaining visual information from video surveillance cameras. Among the other test projects on which Time Domain is working, Clawson says, is one involving special displays and temporary promotions in stores. Again wed to ShopperTrak tech- http://WWW.STORES.ORG

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of STORES Magazine - May 2009

STORES Magazine - May 2009
Executive Editor's Page
President's Page
Facts to Chew On
What Shoppers Think
Deals "R" Us
10 Things You May Have Missed
Numbers Worth Counting
Full Price/Markdown
Retail People
Cover Story: Brand X Power
Home Improvement
Credit Where Credit's Due
Locate, Locate, Locate
New Playbook
Staying in the Fast Lane
Clean and Green
Driven to Please
Farm System
Rx for Shrink
Zeroing Out Zombies
Rogues Gallery
Ounce of Prevention
Loeb Retail Letter
Chain Action
Optimism Rocks
ARTS Update
Point of View
Retail Crossword
Retail Industry Calendar
End Cap

STORES Magazine - May 2009