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RFID Makes Common People an Uncommon Store

The Mexican retailer is using RFID to enhance the customer experience, and to provide suppliers with better inventory data.
By Mark Roberti
Dec 13, 2010Common People, an independent concept store that opened last month in Mexico City, is employing radio frequency identification technology to enhance an already uncommon customer experience, as well as improve the management of inventory.

"When we came up with the idea for a concept store, we knew we wanted to bring in not just the most interesting products, but also innovative technologies," says Monika Feldman, who owns the store with her husband, Max. During the project's planning phase, a friend of hers introduced her to Luca Pastorello, a partner at Digilogics S.A. de C.V., a Mexico-based label converter that provides RFID solutions to retail apparel, government services and logistics firms, as well businesses in other sectors. "I fell in love with the system," she says. "It was amazing."

The store includes an RFID-enabled fixture that identifies the sunglasses a customer is trying on, and displays information about those products on a touch screen. Shoppers can use the screen to snap pictures of themselves trying on various glasses, and e-mail them to friends and family members.
The store sells a wide variety of goods, including books, music CDs, shoes, clothing, accessories and works of art. Each of the store's approximately 10,000 items—many of which are unique or limited editions—is outfitted with a ShortDipole, Trap or Web paper RFID label from UPM Raflatac upon arriving at the retail site.

As goods arrive at the store, each item is entered into an inventory-management system. Common People is equipped with two RFID label printer-encoders from Zebra Technologies, which it uses to print and encode the RFID labels. The serial number encoded on each label's embedded passive EPC Gen 2 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tag is associated with the corresponding item in the inventory-management system. The tagged products are then moved out to the sales floor.

Common People installed an Impinj Speedway RFID reader in its dressing room, where a touch screen welcomes customers and displays an icon that, when clicked, will summon a sales associate. When a customer hangs up garments that he or she wants to try on in the dressing room, the RFID tags of those items are read and images of the clothing are displayed on the touch screen, under the label "Eggs in the Nest." The screen then displays recommended accessories, and the shopper can click on any of them to obtain additional information, such as their manufacturer and cost. The customer can also send an e-mail containing images of the products to friends and relatives, along with the prices, store address and other information.

Another popular feature in the store is a sunglass display with a Speedway reader, an interactive touch screen and a camera mounted above a mirror. The sunglasses are all tagged. The system employs a motion sensor to determine when a customer picks up a pair of glasses, and can identify that particular pair thanks to an antenna designed to read only the tag on the item being tried on. The touch screen then displays a wealth of information about that specific pair of sunglasses. Shoppers can utilize the display fixture's built-in camera and interactive screen to snap pictures of themselves trying on various glasses, and then e-mail them to friends and family members.


Stephen Hall 2011-01-12 01:39:40 PM
But How About EAS? Great article, and we are seeing more and more like this. But what's missing is the Loss Prevention angle for this store. With the right system and the right hard tags for apparel, "shrink" will also be improved, coupled with the sales uplift - Jenga!

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