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An E.Leclerc Supermarket Automates Its Pricing

The store has installed thousands of Altierre's electronic shelf labels, enabling it to instantly change the prices of goods, via RFID readers.
By Claire Swedberg
The solution consists of active, battery-powered 2.4 GHz Altierre RFID tags (using a proprietary air-interface protocol), each attached to its own LCD screen. Altierre also provided two access points that collect data from all tags within the store.

Each tag's integrated circuit stores not only a unique identifier for the tag, but also pricing information and any other content that may appear on the LCD display. That could include animated images and text that may flash intermittently. In addition, says Sunit Saxena, Altierre's chairman and CEO, the tag contains an internal clock and can store information regarding future pricing linked to specific dates and times, thereby enabling the change of data on the screen—even if there is no transmission from a store reader, such as might be the case during a power outage.

The store even installed Altierre electronic labels in its produce section.

When products are initially associated with a shelf label, staff members utilize a handheld device to scan a product's bar code, as well the ESL's bar-coded ID number (which matches the shelf label's RFID number), and to forward that association via a Wi-Fi connection to the store's back-end system, using Infomil software. The store's managers set pricing plans in the back-end software, and those prices are sent to the access points via an Ethernet cable—which, in turn, transmit the new information to the appropriate shelf labels. The labels, which are set to both transmit and receive data, capture the pricing information from the access points, and then store that data, displaying it on the LCD screen. They also send an acknowledgement transmission to the access points, indicating that the pricing transmission was received. If the tag does not return a response, the access point can forward that incident to the back-end software, thus indicating that a label may have been damaged or stolen, or may have failed. "We can supervise our tags... and make sure to have 100 percent success, thanks to the failures report," Sobraquès states. "So far, the system is working just fine."

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