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Uptown Cycles Uses EPC Gen 2 Solution to Accelerate Sales

An RFID-enabled checkout kiosk and security gate enables the specialty bicycle store to focus staff time on customers who require assistance, while improving inventory and deterring theft.
By Claire Swedberg
Jan 12, 2010When shoppers at Uptown Cycles, in Charlotte, N.C., buy bicycling products, they have the option of transacting their purchases via an RFID-enabled kiosk, thereby saving time that would otherwise be spent standing in line, waiting for an available register manned by a store employee. The kiosk is part of an RFID system provided by Freedom Shopping, intended to reduce register queues, while also improving security and making inventory management more accurate.

Since September 2009, the store has been employing a system that includes UPM Raflatac ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) EPC Gen 2 tags embedded in labels attached to cycling products, in addition to a handheld RFID interrogator and a Zebra Technologies printer to print and encode RFID labels as new products arrive at the shop. The retailer also uses a Freedom Shopping security gate at its exit, with RFID antennas to capture tags' unique ID numbers as they leave the store, thereby deterring theft.

Uptown Cycles' RFID-enabled checkout kiosk
Uptown Cycles, a specialty store and training facility that opened a year ago, offers multiple functions, including bicycle training and coaching, service and repair, high-value items such as bicycles, and sundry low-value items such as parts and accessories, apparel and food. The training area includes computerized equipment for the training and coaching of cyclists. Employees offer service both in the store and in the training area, and can pass back and forth between the two.

Some customers and clients are regulars who know exactly what they want (such as an accessory or a beverage) and where it can be found in the store, while others (someone buying a new bicycle, for instance) require staff assistance. With only a few employees on hand at any given time, the retailer sought a solution that would allow its workers to dedicate time to those who need assistance in the store and training area, while enabling customers in a hurry to quickly move through the point of sale (POS).

The solution, known as the FLiP system—designed by Freedom Shopping—integrates the self-service kiosk with Uptown Cycles' Microsoft Dynamics RMS POS system. This, according to Rob Simmons, Freedom Shopping's marketing director, enables purchases to be made quickly without needing to take employees away from other customers.

As each new item arrives at the store, a worker scans the bar code on that product's packaging, then encodes and prints an RFID label with the Zebra RZ400 printer. The label's unique ID number is linked with the item's bar code, along with details regarding the product itself, in the FLiP system software, residing on Uptown's back-end system. The label can then be affixed to the item's packaging.

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