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Thomas Pink Piloting IoT System With RFID and Cameras to Manage Inventory, Traffic

The solution, from BT Global Services, enables the use of multiple technologies under the single Acuitas Digital Alliance store platform to manage the inventory of men's shirts, as well as the movement of customer and sales staff traffic around that merchandise.
By Claire Swedberg
Jan 24, 2017

U.K.-based luxury clothing and shirt retailer Thomas Pink launched an Internet of Things pilot at its Wall Street store in New York City this month that features ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID technology to track the movement of merchandise in real time throughout the business, and RetailNext camera-based technology. The solution, provided by BT Global Services, is known as the Acuitas Digital Alliance retail platform. It uses Intel RFID IoT Responsive Retail Platform hardware, SATO Global Solutions software to manage RFID data and RetailNext camera-based data and interpret that information for store management.

BT has been offering RFID-based solutions for retailers of apparel, cosmetics and luxury goods since 2004. However, says Tom Wolf, BT Global Services' VP for global retail and consumer packaged goods, the company opted for a more integrated IoT platform-based approach approximately a year ago. Combining multiple technologies on a single platform enables retailers to use an integrated solution that provides the basics of RFID-based inventory management, as well as other applications. These include fitting room management, smart mirrors, cameras, infrared (IR) technology and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons.

Tom Wolf
In January 2016, BT helped launch the Acuitas Digital Alliance to develop a more holistic solution. The alliance's members include BT, Intel (which provides the RFID technology), RetailNext, NexGen Packaging (which supplies RFID tags), SATO Global Solutions (which supplies the software to manage sensor and RFID read data) and digital technology brand protection company Valmarc Corp.

Thomas Pink is the first retailer to publicly announce a pilot of the solution. The firm, founded in London in 1984, was named after an 18th-century tailor who made scarlet hunting coats. The company now operates more than 90 stores worldwide, with flagship stores in London, New York and Paris. Thomas Pink opted to launch the pilot to track some men's shirts at its Wall Street location, and intends to determine its rollout plans based on the trial's results. The pilot's completion data has not yet been scheduled.

For the next few months, the system will track some of the company's men's shirts as they move around the store. Thomas Pink declined to comment for this story, but in a press release, the firm indicated that the solution will provide inventory data to ensure merchandise is available, while also tracking the movement of traffic as customers and sales associates walk around the store.

The RFID deployment consists of multiple fixed, ceiling-mounted Intel readers, together with gateway and software comprising the Intel Responsive Retail Platform. The individual readers capture tag transmissions when they detect that a tag is moving. That data is forwarded to a gateway, which, in turn, filters the information. The Responsive Retail Platform software then forwards the location data to the SATO Global Solutions software.

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