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G-Star RAW Store Finds Many Uses for RFID

The technology tracks the locations of goods in real time, and is used for inventory, point-of-sale and electronic article surveillance applications, as well as for a customer-facing touchscreen.
By Claire Swedberg

This week, the store also began offering customers the opportunity to interact with a touchscreen to learn more about key items from its Denim Bar and determine what might go well with those garments. InMotion provided a 55-inch touchscreen with a built-in Impinj Speedway Revolution R420 RFID reader to capture a product's tag ID and then display information specific to that category of item, using InMotion's Ui7 software platform. For instance, if a customer holds a pair of jeans near the screen, the reader links that item's tag to content displaying shoes, shirts or other items that might go well with those pants. "We built this solution with the intention to leverage it with other tools they already have in place," says Frederick Bleckmann, InMotion's founder and creative technologist.

InMotion's Ui7 software manages the collected tag ID data, linking it to content stored on a dedicated InMotion computer onsite.

InMotion's Frederick Bleckmann
The Denimwall installation is the first project using xArray readers that has gone public, Arnstein reports, though a number of other companies around the world are trialing or installing the xArray and ItemSense technology. "It's clearly on everyone's mind. There's no retailer using handheld readers that isn't thinking about this," he says.

By the end of this week, staff members will be able to download RIoT's app and then use an Android or iOS smartphone or tablet to view where any item is located, based on the read data being captured by the fixed readers, as well as use the other related features. Williams says the app is especially desirable to stores, since workers can use their personal devices to access data and capture a tag's ID by pairing their devices with a handheld TSL reader via a Bluetooth connection. For instance, if a customer requests a product that person can't find, the sales associate can simply open the app on his or her phone and view that item's location on the sales floor or in the back room. "Stores can, of course, use their own mobile devices," he states, "but many retailers—and especially employees—find the BYOD option very compelling."

As goods leave the store, a reader captures the IDs of RFID tags on any items not purchased. The software then sends an alert to the app running on the devices of employees onsite, so that they can view what is being removed, as well as the area of the store from which it came. That data provides analytics, Leonard explains, enabling him to know where items are typically being taken from, as well as address any security weakness, such as moving products so that thieves cannot as easily grab them on the way out the door.

Detego's back-end software provides inventory analytics and performance monitoring, allowing Denimwall to monitor store replenishment and shrinkage. In the stockroom, staff members can view that same data displayed on a screen.

Leonard says he is now considering expanding the solution to his six other G-Star RAW franchise stores, in order to extend the system's benefits company-wide. However, he adds, no timeline has been established for these deployments.

Hennig predicts that this is just the beginning when it comes to the real-time location tracking of goods via fixed EPC ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) readers. This installation, he says, "will give a big push to the industry." Hennig expects to see many more deployments of similar solutions underway during the next 12 to 18 months.

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