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RFID Pours Beer at Shopping Market

Lynn Street Market, a corner grocery in Danville, Va., opened this month with a 12-tap beer wall that allows shoppers to pour their own drink by tapping an RFID card against the wall's readers to control and pay for their pour into a glass or growler.
By Claire Swedberg
Tags: Retail

DelGiorno says he has spent 20 years in the food retail industry, noting that Lynn Street Market represents an amalgamation of what he's seen throughout his career. It's a store format that fits in urban areas, he explains, in which a high density of people lack easy access to fresh food. As such, the market is intended to offer an alternative to the types of big-box-style stores at which those residents might otherwise shop. The 4,000-square-foot market will offer fresh food, cooking classes and children's events, as well as space to sit down and drink beer with neighbors. "The system allows people to be more socially involved," he states. "Not just pick up some eggs, but have a pint of beer with community members."

Lynn Street Market's sister business, Crema and Vine, has offered an RFID-based system for self-pouring wine for the past two years. At the café, 16 bottles are placed in a cabinet known as the Wine Station. Customers can use a touch screen to select a particular wine, then utilize an RFID-enabled pre-paid card to purchase a glass of wine with their meal and pour the glass themselves.

Tana Rulkova
The beer system works similarly. A store employee monitoring the wall first checks the ID of an individual making a purchase, then provides him or her with a new PourMyBeer card or approves that person's use of an existing card. The card comes with a MIFARE DESFire EV1 RFID tag from NXP Semiconductors. The unique ID number encoded on the card is linked to that shopper's credit card account information in the PourMyBeer software, but not to his or her identity, for privacy purposes, says Tana Rulkova, PourMyBeer's marketing manager.

The individual selects a beer to pour at the touch screen. The wall includes an RFID reader manufactured by PourMyBeer for each of two taps. The shopper taps his or her card near the reader for the tap selected, then the system enables the pouring of the tap for that beer. As the customer pours the beverage into a growler or glass, the system measures the amount of the pour and displays that amount in real time on the screen so the user can view how much is being poured, along with the cost.

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