RFID Tracks Jewelry in Boutiques and Sales Events

Published: February 7, 2024

PT Next’s mobile Smart Jewelry Tray is being sampled by a global jewelry retailer to track the location and handling of its products at private events

A global jewelry retailer is deploying a new RFID-based, mobile jewelry tray as part of its management solution in three U.S. stores.

The Smart Jewelry Tray, provided by PT Next includes UHF RFID technology from IoT firm AsReader. PT Next’s ARGOS software platform manages the read data and enables stores to track products inside each tray as it moves around a shop or boutique.

The tray was designed to enhance visibility for jewelers at stores, private events and showings, says Kris Doane, AsReader’s senior account executive.

Expanding RFID Usage

The jewelry company leveraged the ARGOS RFID solution with RFID readers and antennas built into cabinets and sales desks. Now the company is adding the mobile trays with UHF RFID reader module (the AsReader ASR-034B), and integrated antenna, rechargeable battery, as well as AsShield material that prevents stray reads from outside the tray.

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By capturing the tag IDs of jewelry or watches in the smart tray, each removal and return of tagged products is timestamped, reducing manual efforts around that tracking process. It offers inventory visibility to allow salespeople to respond more quickly to customer requests as well.

In the long term, analytics will be available to steer retail management decisions.

New Technology in a Mobile Tray

PT Next is part of the PAC Team Group that has provided display cases, window displays and furniture for luxury brands and retailers for more than 70 years.

The company recently offered its fixed Smart Jewelry Trays, while its PT Next Solution (including handheld readers) has tracked more than $1 billion worth of jewelry and watches, Doane says.

The RFID technology in jewelry display cabinets captures inventory in real time as the products are placed inside. However, retailers have been seeking a more mobile solution as trays of the high-value products are often moved from the cabinet and brought to customers in different locations.

A Smart Tray that’s Mobile

The mobile tray itself is customizable so that the size and form-factor vary. The internal battery is rechargeable as to continually power tag reads and transmission back to the server while the tray is in use, explains Doane.

It features Bluetooth connectivity, so that as tags are read, the tray sends that data to a gateway device (such as a mobile phone or tablet) which in turn connects the data to the server. The tray can go into “sleep mode” when it is not in motion, to save battery life.

Specialized Design for High Read Performance

“We can work together [with the customer] to customize these RFID components to really fit the design esthetic of the brand,” said Doane. That design could be other mobile containers, such as a briefcase.

To ensure accurate high-performance reads, the technology companies have built shielding material around the outer edge of the tray. The AS Shield disperses the RF signal within the tray and prevents stray reads—from a neighboring tray or tagged item near the tray—from being read inadvertently.

In previous years, jewelry was often tracked with HF RFID tags, which were smaller than UHF tags with a shorter read range. However, RFID tag manufacturers have released smaller UHF RFID tags that are well suited for use with jewelry or watches.

And, the UHF transmission range can be reduced by turning down the transmission power of readers.

Finding the Desired Product for Customer

The smart tray technology provides several benefits for users.

First and foremost, it provides sales personnel with the ability to provide fast, personalized service to high end customers, says Doane.

If the customer comes in to see a $50,000 necklace, for instance, “they don’t want to wait 15 minutes while the salesperson goes looking for it,” he says. In some cases, the salesperson may have initiated the transaction by calling a regular customer to alert them to a new product that has come into the store.

“Then when the person comes in, if they can’t find it, that would be bad,” he points out.

Analytics to Understand Product Performance

In the long term, the tray’s data provides a trove of information about what items are being viewed, for how long, and how the viewing compares to purchasing data.

If one piece of jewelry was shown many times before it was purchased, that performance can be compared against other products. If the conversion rate for one item is higher than another, the company management can make changes to their inventory.

“Now you have data so that you can drive better selling practices,” says Doane.

Mobility for Jewelry Events

Jewelry trays with mobility and technology are also a benefit when it comes to jewelry events in which the retailers offer limited-time sales experiences in a remote, rented space such as a mansion or office building to view the products in a more personal setting.

In such cases, the smart trays can be taken to the temporary sales site and continue to collect and transmit data about which products are being viewed, and for how long.

Often trays are delivered to customers in private viewing area by runners. That data obtained can help all sales associates and management view the status and location of the trays during the event so that no customer is left waiting.

Identifying Gateway Products

ARGOS also provides a view into “gateway products” such as a necklace that is often tried on, after which customers begin trying on, and buying, other products. Gateway products can be less expensive pieces of jewelry—or which may not be high sellers—that then often result in a higher value purchase.

Gaining data about such activities over time could help retailers better strategize how products are being displayed, or even reset with more popular stones by jewelry brands, to increase sales.

PT Next offers handheld readers that can be used to locate missing products inside a boutique. AsReader makes its L251G GUN-Type UHF reader that can provide long-distance range inside a boutique, for instance.

Key Takeaways:
  • PT Next’s new mobile Smart Jewelry Tray with AsReader module and shielding enables retailers to locate products in real time, so that customers never have to wait.
  • The ARGOS software enables users to gain analytics such as sales conversion rates, and identifying gateway products to are followed by other product sampling and purchasing.