Retail Tech Link-o-Mania - 2

by Deepak Sharma on Monday, June 27, 2005

Where's RFID Going Next?
Article in InformationWeek is reporting innovative uses of RFID tags from it being embedded in Wristbands to Soccer balls and casino chips. Very good read.

...At the Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx, N.Y., RFID tags have found their way into patient wristbands. Each tag contains a patient's name and medical record number. Nurses scan it using a tablet PC containing a reader and pull corresponding records from the hospital's database. Hospital personnel have seen a reduction in drug-administration errors, and CIO Daniel Morreale says freeing nursing staff from having to type information into a database has led to improved productivity....

...A doctoral student at the University of Florida is creating RFID grids in carpeting, hallway baseboards, and along outdoor walkways to help visually impaired and other disabled students navigate the campus. ...

CVS Prescribes RFID for Retail Payment Terminals
CVS Corp. is installing RFID-enabled terminals for processing various types of payment-card transactions at its 5,400 pharmacy retail stores nationwide, according to Hypercom Corp., the maker of the terminals.

....The terminals have been configured to the retailer's specifications and can accept magnetic swipe cards and smart cards in addition to the contactless cards and fobs, Rawls said. He noted that the RFID capabilities are designed to decrease the amount of time customers spend waiting in line to make purchases....

RFID Project Safeguards Drug
eWeek is reporting how a drug Manufacturer Purdue Pharma is monitoring one of its most successful drugs OxyContin's through the complete supply chain using RFID tags.
The technology helps Purdue create an electronic "drug pedigree," data that enables the company to follow products throughout the supply chain, from the manufacturer to the wholesaler to the pharmacy, said company CIO Chuck Nardi. That sort of information is normally kept in paper documents. With RFID technology, Purdue can now scan and record the 48 bottles of OxyContin in each carton shipped to distribution centers for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and H.D. Smith Wholesale Drug Co., rather than a single tag on each case. The reader scans the chip and records the specific product and the serial number on each bottle. That information is sent to Wal-Mart and H.D. Smith, which can then verify what products they received and when they received them.

The data gives Purdue greater scrutiny of the products' trip through the supply chain and gives Wal-Mart and H.D. Smith better assurances that what ended up in their partners' distribution centers is what was shipped out of Purdue's facilities.....

...Getting the pilot programs up and running took Purdue more than a year. Through an extensive trial-and-error program, the company worked closely with its label maker to figure out a way to bundle a tiny RFID chip under the label of each pill bottle. Purdue is using a 1-inch-square 915MHz chip from Symbol's RFID division—formerly known as Matrics Inc.—on each bottle of the drugs shipped.

In addition, Purdue is using ERP (enterprise resource planning) software from SAP AG that supports RFID information and is running the pilot programs on fault-tolerant servers from Stratus Technologies Inc. The SAP applications enable data captured by the tag reader to be input into Purdue's business systems.....

Thinking Loud - Box Office Mojo for Retail Chains

by Deepak Sharma on Thursday, June 23, 2005

Just wondering, Why can't we have Box Office Mojo kind of website for Retail chains which will tell you the everyday sales figures for these stores. OK, everyday may be asking too much but why can't we have something for Holidays and other events like Mothers/Fathers day etc. Think of the usefulness of such a list to the shareholders and the customers. Shareholders will know how their company is doing and Customers will know where to head to same day, next year...:)

I know we have the forecast and then results for the industry as a whole for holidays etc but never get to see what Wal-Mart made or what Sears made individually for let's say Fathers day. Won't that be cool?

Maybe I am thinking too loud.

Pay By Touch

by Deepak Sharma on Monday, June 20, 2005

SiliconValley is reporting a new use of Biometrics in the Point of Sales applications. Biometrics so far has been limited to security (identifying people), labor management etc purposes. Pay By Touch brings Biometrics to the retail landscape. The company has implemented these finger-scanning payment system at couple of retail chains. The system is very simple and here is how it works:

During checkout, you simply place your finger on the reader, and enter your search number (usually your phone number). You are immediately identified and securely linked to your financial and loyalty accounts.

Then, at the touch of a button on a familiar keypad, you select your payment method: checking account, credit or debit card. Your purchase is approved, and your reward points are automatically recognized, just as if you had presented your cards or keychain tags at the point of sale. And Pay By Touch is always free, with no hidden fees....

The benefit to the customer comes by Faster Checkouts, no need to carry cash, credit/debit cards etc. After one time enrollment you can use the system at every participating retail stores.

The benefit to the Retailers lies in the fact that the system can be integrated with the existing PoS system using simple API's and can redcuce the transacation charges by few cents.
...the electronic network used to process the biometric transactions charges retailers a lower fee than other electronic networks now used to approve debit and credit card purchases. While the cost to a merchant from the electronic network used to process a debit or credit card purchase is about 35 cents, the same purchase over the Automated Clearinghouse Network used by Pay By Touch is about 10 cents, Morris said.

The only thing is what if the system goes down, what do we use as backup? My guess is Since it is built on top of the existing PoS system, you can still use that to check out.

Retail Tech Link-o-Mania - 1

by Deepak Sharma on Friday, June 17, 2005

Starting today, I will try to post links (with some commentary, whenever possible) on various happenings/news/articles/products/events etc in the Retail Industry. Hope you find these interesting and useful too.

RFID future, hazards discussed
Senior government officials and business leaders met this week in Washington to attempt to reconcile the promise of radio-frequency identification and the privacy and standardization challenges posed by the new technology.

Real-World RFID: Wal-Mart, Gillette, And Others Share What They're Learning
Interesting notes and learnings from the field where RFID is in use.

What Is Inventory Management?
Good high level article explaining what Inventory Management is, types/categories of inventory and ways to reduce Inventory Levels etc.

Slide Decks from the Retail Systems 2005 Conference

by Deepak Sharma on Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Retail Systems has posted Presentations from Retail Systems 2005 and the VICS Retail Systems Super Conference. Would have been nice if these were released as downloadable Webcasts but nonetheless topics covered in the conference were quite varied with tracks on Store Innovation, Supply chain Management, Collaborative Commerce among others.
View Presentations

Broadband Helping Fuel Online Retail Growth

by Deepak Sharma on Saturday, June 11, 2005

[Via Retail Wire]
DowJones is reporting a research stating that Broadband access is driving online retail growth.

The factors are: more people having broadband Internet access at home; more consumers feeling comfortable using the Internet to shop; an increased use of search engines to find items; the increased use of comparison shopping sites; and retailers reaching customers through several mediums.

More than 50% of Internet users have broadband access at home, Hess said. The faster connection to the Internet compared with narrowband makes it easier for consumers to shop, and consequently broadband users spend more online than narrowband users, he said.

This is bound to happen with more Broadband penetration across the Country (and the world). With broadband users, Retailers can deliver more interactive content, for e.g. you are watching Britney Spears video online and you can click on the accessories she is wearing and buy it. Use of technology like Macromedia Flash makes it a reality. This interactive user experience leads to fewer abandoned shopping carts and higher conversion rates. There are other things to cater to Broadband users, some being Platform improvements, Server and Technology upgrades, chnages to site Look and Feel, better site usability etc.

Product Information Management (PIM)

by Deepak Sharma on Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Internet Retailer has an article speaking of the benefits of Product Information Management systems (PIM). Product Information Management (PIM) is a solution to maintain product data across different business units and groups within the enterprise. A collaborative solution, PIM provides a central repository for the Product Data with all its attributes thus enabling effective Data Synchronization.

The article talks of problems in retail arena and how PIM solves these problems.

The trouble is that many retail operations are divided into silos of information specific to each operating department, each of which may have received a different version of product data from separate sources within the same supplier. “It’s hard to get a single source of truth,” says Michael Parrish, senior vice president of business process management for West Marine Inc., a Watsonville, Calif.-based chain of more than 360 boating supply stores.

To meet the challenge of data overload in multiple versions of the truth, West Marine and other retailers, as well as their suppliers, are moving toward product information management systems, or PIM, that use web technology to streamline and automate data flow and make it simpler and faster for multiple departments to view and work with the same product information.

PIM is not to be confused with Data Synchronization.

Not to be confused with general data synchronization between suppliers and retailers, which deals with invoices, purchase orders and other supply chain issues, PIM applications push deep into a retailer’s operation to assure that product data is synchronized across all of a retailer’s internal applications.

Related Links:
IBM Product Information Management Solutions
Oracle Product Information Management Data Hub