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RFID Tracks Spanish Shoppers' Interest in Shoes, Books

Two retailers in Spain are attaching EPC Gen 2 tags to some of their merchandise, in order to gauge the popularity of products by tracking how often customers pick the items up.
By Claire Swedberg
Mar 12, 2012When placed on display at stores, products are often picked up by customers for a closer look, and are then moved around the store and put back down, all before ever making it to the point of sale. Stores and manufacturers can learn from this behavior, by determining how much interest something like a book cover generates, as well as which sections of a store evoke the most interest among browsing shoppers. Retailers and goods manufacturers have data regarding the number of products sold, but few possess information indicating the level of customer interest prior to a sale.

Two Spanish retailers are tracking the popularity of selected items within their stores, using technology that detects which products are lifted off shelves, and how often. The stores are utilizing an RFID-based system provided by Spanish automatic-identification solutions company Cité Trade Tech. The firm is providing its Smart Data ISF solution, consisting of EPC Gen 2 passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags, shelf readers and cloud-based software to analyze data.

At Argot, an RFID reader installed under a display table detects the number of customers that pick up a particular book.

Cité Trade Tech also offers a solution enabling customers to access additional information about a particular product by means of a Nexus S Near Field Communication (NFC)-enabled mobile phone, by tapping the phone against an NFC high-frequency (HF) RFID tag. "Currently, the system has been developed for the Android OS," says Francisco Alegre, Cité Trade Tech's CTO, "but it can develop quickly for a Windows phone or iPhone or iPad when there is an NFC SDK [software development kit] to work with these devices." Thus far, the NFC system is not yet is use, though it is likely to be tested by stores this summer, says Marc Simon, Cité Trade Tech's business development manager.

For the past four months, Cité Trade Tech's Smart Data ISF solution has been utilized by a Hush Puppies shoe store, as well as the Argot bookstore. Both the Hush Puppies and Argot locations began employing the solution in late November 2011, ahead of the Christmas season.

Library Argot, which sells books in Castellón de la Plana, is using the system to track some of the 50,000 to 70,000 books that it has on its premises at any given time. "We had no way of knowing what happened with certain books from the time they were placed on the shelf until the sale," explains Ismael Bonet, Argot's CEO. Although store managers had been able to review daily sales records at the end of each day, he says, with an RFID system, the shop can learn, in real time, what interest a particular book is generating, "in which case more books could be stocked in the store, or moved, if necessary, where they could be more easily accessed."

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