Real Time Communications Featured Article

Savvy Shoppers, Brands Benefit from Smart Retail

January 18, 2016

Today’s shoppers are smarter and savvier than ever before. Armed with mobile technologies and intelligent apps, buyers are able to dig out better deals and make purchase decisions based more on strategy, than on impulse.

While not everyone may want to scope out the best sale or clip coupons, no one will deny that getting a deal on something you need to buy is a good thing.

What if it were easy to score a great buy on items and not have to put in the effort to get the deal? That’s the direction we’re headed with smart retail and the use of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies in our stores.

These technologies aren’t just benefiting the shopper. They are also a powerful tool to help with inventory and marketing efforts for brands and retailers too.

WestRock and T+ink have introduced their latest in this movement with an IoT inventory optimization display solution that works with Intel.  Put simply, these printed electronic sensors are able to now turn the pegs and shelves in stores into intelligent end-points.




Going back to the consumer for a moment, picture a scenario where you are at a shopping trip in Target and looking for a common staple, like toothpaste. Once you grab it off of the shelf,  an alert pops up to inform you on your mobile device that purchasing mouthwash and a toothbrush in this same transaction could give you better savings or even a gift card for other store purchases.  

For retailers, the real time information which is processed and then instantly transmitted to the cloud. This includes product availability, inventory needs and data on promotions pushed right to their mobile devices or other interfaces, so immediate actions can be taken.

The data collected using T+ink’s ink technology on WestRock’s shelves and pegs are processed using Intel’s Quark processors for IoT. Intel Quark SoC X1000 brings intelligence to the network edge so securely managed IoT endpoints and lowered development costs are possible. 

"This is one of the most powerful IoT solutions invented for retail, and one of the first solutions that provides inventory visibility at a shelf level and senses customer interactions with individual products," said Wayne Nemeth, chief operating officer, T+ink. "The benefits are significant, including inventory optimization, inventory loss prevention, and the capture of valuable information about consumer behavior.”

With real-time information, companies can measure how quickly items are selling, know immediately when out-of-stock conditions are happening and even use the data to quickly price products based on competitive promotions and other factors.  This answers an issue plaguing many retailers worldwide referred to as “inventory distortion” where an IT system my only help some of the Out-of-Stock issues affecting relationships with customers.

“The retail industry globally has a $1.3 trillion inventory distortion challenge,” said Jeff Roster, IHL Group. “Whether it’s missed opportunities as a result of being out of stock, or bottom line erosion due to shrinkage, even a small percentage of improvement helps retailers return greater value to their customers and shareholders. This is one of the first examples we’ve seen showing real-time transparency of inventory availability and movement at the shelf and peg level, and we’re looking forward to the reaction of retailers and their supply chains to this concept.”

Limited trials of the solution will be available in early summer and general availability anticipated for late 2016.




Edited by Kyle Piscioniere

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