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Retailers to Pilot RFID for Loss Prevention

Sensormatic Solutions' TrueVUE system now includes shrink management as part of its software-as-a-service stack, enabling retailers to begin identifying items that are removed from a store, and thereby ensuring inventory can be replaced.
By Claire Swedberg
Dec 20, 2019

Six retailers worldwide will begin piloting a new feature from Sensormatic Solutions (a Johnson Controls company) early next year, using passive UHF RFID for shrink management. The solution is part of the company's platform designed to bring intelligence to electronic article surveillance (EAS).

RFID for Loss Prevention is an expanded line of RFID-based shrink-visibility solutions that leverages the company's TrueVUE software-as-a-service (SaaS) retail analytics solution, using Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Companies can pay a subscription price for multiple solutions, ranging from RFID as EAS to inventory management and smart fitting rooms using RFID or other Internet of Things (IoT) technologies. Pilots are slated to begin during the first quarter of 2020.

Sensormatic designed TrueVUE to provide an affordable solution for stores to automate the management of merchandise, better enable accurate unified commerce sales and "buy online, pick up in store" (BOPIS) models and improve the customer experience. The company launched the system approximately eight years ago as an on-premises solution to help track inventory, and it provided analytics regarding theft detection using EAS acousto-magnetic or RF technology.

Earlier this year, Sensormatic released a cloud-based version of the solution thay provides the Google-based stack of SaaS features for shrink visibility, as well as other features and functions as customers move toward other capabilities. The SaaS version offers a feature dedicated to capturing RFID tag reads at store exits, whether at the store front (as customers remove goods) or at the back door (where shrinkage can also take place). The feature can be added to an existing TrueVUE deployment, or it can be operated as a new service for which other functionality could be added as needed.

This feature signals the maturity of RFID technology for EAS as UHF tags, says Brent Brown, Sensormatic's VP of global inventory intelligence and general manager, and readers are achieving greater read accuracy and reliability than in previous years. In parallel, he says, there is a growing presence of RFID tags on garments and other products in stores. Many retailers are finding RFID tags attached to their merchandise by brands and suppliers, Brown reports, and many are applying or using existing RFID tags for their own inventory-management purposes. Using those tags for EAS, however, has posed a challenge. Without the proper software managing such a system, he notes, false or nuisance alarms can be commonplace, and the data coming from the readers is often difficult to manage.

To address these challenges, Brown says, the RFID for Loss Prevention capabilities brings intelligence to the process. The software is designed to identify and capture only relevant tags—those moving through the exit that represent non-purchased items—while filtering out other tag reads. The software then manages the collected data to provide users with information about what has been removed and what needs to be replenished.

The system enables users to link the RFID data with other technologies, such as video cameras. In that way, stores could collect RFID-based data indicating what is being removed, along with a link to video footage showing what is taking place. This kind of feature, Brown explains, serves as a tool to combat organized retail crime (by which shoplifters remove large numbers of goods) or to identify staff members. By using RFID for loss prevention, he adds, retailers can gain greater value from the cost of an RFID deployment that might otherwise be used for inventory management alone. "We've moved the solution downstream," he states, "to help retailers onboard and move into the world of loss prevention."

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