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Walgreens, Revlon Affirm Value in Tagging Promotional Displays

The largest U.S. drugstore chain is using radio frequency identification to track product displays at nearly all of its 5,000 stores, boosting sales by as much as 400 percent.
By Claire Swedberg
Mar 05, 2009Walgreens, the United States' largest drugstore chain, has completed a nationwide installation of an RFID tracking solution for promotional displays in all but a few of its 5,000 stores. Cosmetics firm Revlon has announced that data derived from the system has helped it achieve increased sales from its promotions at Walgreens.

The deployment began in 2007 (see Walgreens to Use Tagged Displays), as the result of eight years of pilots and testing that involved the system's developer, Goliath Solutions, as well as Revlon and other consumer packaged goods (CPG) vendors. In addition, the drugstore chain soon plans to test an upgraded version of the system that would allow RFID interrogators to be utilized with EPC Gen 2 UHF tags rather than with the proprietary semi-passive tags currently in use.

Gary Overhultz
According to a statement issued by David Van Howe, Walgreens' VP of purchasing, the RFID system has enabled the drugstore chain and its CPG suppliers to manage the promotional displays more effectively, thereby increasing sales of the promoted products. Walgreens declined to answer questions for this article, however, and Revlon officials did not respond to phone calls requesting additional information.

Revlon is one of many CPG suppliers tagging displays at Walgreens, says Gary Overhultz, Goliath's COO. The cosmetics company's goal, he says, is "to gain an understanding of how those materials are successful, and ensure they [Walgreens and Revlon] fully take advantage of opportunities to improve the execution of those promotions."

Revlon was interested in determining the value of the various displays, based on the quantity of displayed products sold. The firm found that by using the sales and location data related to these displays, it could better ensure that the most popular displays were placed on the sales floor at the proper time and location, thereby increasing sales. Those increases, Overhultz says, have proven to be between 200 and 400 percent greater than sales achieved without using the system.

The system employs RFID hardware and software designed and supplied by Goliath, and requires only a single RFID reader be installed in each store, wired to an array of antennas embedded in the ceiling so they cannot be seen. Battery-powered semi-passive Goliath RFID tags, operating at 902-933 MHz, are attached to promotional displays by either Walgreens' staff members or the CPG supplier. The tags lie dormant until an RFID interrogator instructs them to transmit their data.

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