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Two major issues that face retail stores every year are the low matching accuracy of inventories and potential revenue lost from inventory shrinkage. According to Bill Hardgrave, dean of Auburn University's Harbert College of Business and the founder of the RFID Lab, current accuracy of retail inventories range from 30 percent to 60 percent. In terms of shrinkage, $45.2 Billion was lost last year in the United States alone according to the 2016 National Retail Security Survey conducted by the NRF. Both issues not only lower potential revenue for a retailer, but can lead to a loss in customer satisfaction, resulting in shoppers purchase products from a competitor if the desired product is not available. To fix these issues, Zebra Technologies has developed a platform called SmartSense for Retail consisting of a software platform and hardware solution.
Using a fusion of technologies, The SmartSense hardware uses radio-frequency identification (RFID) to track RFID tagged products along with video analytics and micro-location capability to identify shoppers or shoplifters carrying the tagged products within a 1600 square foot coverage area. Zebra explains it is a modular solution and retailers can choose how many of the sensing capabilities they wish to deploy. The platform collects information from inventory, point-of-sale, shoppers, and store associates, which it then automatically aggregates and correlates into events that can provide real-time insights and storewide visibility through SmartSense applications on a smartphone, tablet, or similar device.
The exhibit below provides a visual of the data transmitting process:
This technology can not only help track shoplifters and increase inventory accuracy to numbers, but also enable omnichannel picking for BOPIS or e-commerce fulfillment in-store and increasing customer retention rates due to better customer satisfaction. In regards to shrinkage, this technology also vastly differs from previous in-store video cameras due to the combination of RFID tracking, video analytics, and its micro-location capability. The opportunities for Zebra’s SmartSense are many and has potential to be deployed by distributors and corporate warehouses as well.
General availability for SmartSense will begin during the first quarter of 2017 for North American, and the third quarter of 2017 for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
(written with Sean Leeming, Research Assistant)