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Impinj launches RAIN RFID retail solutions with Detego, InMotion and Nedap ••• SML upgrades Clarity retail inventory-management software ••• Vizinex RFID releases Sentry Slim Skinnie tag ••• MEPS Real-Time updates system for pharmacy automation, inventory management ••• Giant Eagle tests Powershelf out-of-stock sensors as part of food-industry study ••• Sensoro deploys 110,000-beacon network in China.
By Beth Bacheldor

Giant Eagle Tests Powershelf Out-of-Stock Sensors as Part of Food-Industry Study

Powershelf, a provider of retail technology solutions, has announced that its out-of-stock sensors will be the focus of a new food-industry pilot program, known as the Out-of-Stock Inventory Management test, measuring possible solutions to grocery out-of-stocks (OOS). The program is led by a joint task force consisting of Giant Eagle, one of the nation's largest food retailers and distributors, the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), the University of Maryland, Ernst & Young, dozens of leading product manufacturers, and Powershelf. The program, scheduled to run from this month through January 2016, will measure the effectiveness of Powershelf out-of-stock sensors in four Giant Eagle stores in the area of Columbus, Ohio, the company indicates.

Powershelf sensors installed in the sports-drinks section of a Giant Eagle store in Columbus, Ohio
The Powershelf solution was co-developed by Compass Marketing's Tagnetics subsidiary, and by Panasonic System Communications Co. (see Panasonic Adds Bluetooth Beacons to Electronic Shelf Labels). The solution enables retailers to connect their customers with location-based content via a mobile app, and is intended to enable stores to electronically update prices on LCD screens mounted on product shelves, as well as receive automatic notifications in the event that a shelf becomes empty, thereby indicating a product needs to be restocked to ensure that not sales are missed.

The Out-of-Stock Inventory Management test focuses on the individual store level, at which industry studies have shown nearly three-quarters of all out-of-stocks occur, according to Powershelf. The Giant Eagle stores participating in this pilot will be divided into two groups—control and test stores—both of which will be outfitted with Powershelf OOS sensors. The sensors will measure on-shelf availability in the yogurt, sports drinks, beer and diapers categories, with leading manufacturers representing their interest as participants. The sensors use the two-way communications capabilities to alert store personnel and distributor partners to remedy the situation. However, only the sensors in the test stores will issue alerts when products go out of stock. Other data collected from the test includes response times to address the OOS alerts, and estimated loss of sales for both non-promoted and promoted participating stock-keeping units (SKUs).

The results of the Columbus pilot program are expected to be released early in the first quarter of 2016.

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