Sensormatic Releases SaaS Loss-Prevention and Inventory-Management System

By Claire Swedberg

The company's RFID- and BLE-based TrueVUE solution is designed to offer a low cost of entry for retailers looking to use RFID to track stock and capture shrinkage data in order to improve inventory accuracy.

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Offering what it calls an easily deployed and scaled inventory-management solution, technology company Sensormatic has released a software-as-a-service (SaaS) version of its TrueVUE cloud-based software platform. The system leverages technology to capture data about merchandise as it is received, displayed and sold, and when it leaves a store. Other features and technologies can be added to the solution as well, such as Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), to track the movements of shoppers and provide traffic visibility.

The SaaS TrueVUE system is designed to enable businesses to quickly build a global inventory-management solution that can scale as a company or supply chain grows, according to Brent Brown, the firm’s VP and general manager of global inventory intelligence. The solution leverages Google Cloud Platform (GCP) to enable retailers to view online inventory data across a company’s enterprise.

Sensormatic’s SaaS TrueVUE solution

Sensormatic developed the solution to serve retailers’ increasing need to provide “buy online, pick up in store” (BOPIS) sales models. With BOPIS, the company indicates, inventory visibility and accuracy are essential to ensuring that a product which a customer has purchased online is waiting for him or her at the store selected during that purchase. The SaaS system enables a “unified commerce approach,” Brown explains, in which suppliers, retailers and logistics providers can share data.

Until recently, Sensormatic has sold an on-premises solution by which software captures data locally, which means retailers and other companies can purchase software and seek out integration to their existing management software. “That typical software platform is designed to help customers focus mostly on inventory intelligence,” Brown states, “to have a clear view into stock conditions throughout the year and to maintain them at a 99 percent level.”

Traditionally, Sensormatic has found companies start each year with high inventory accuracy, then begin to drift away from that accuracy due to shrinkage (theft), incorrect shipments or vendors replacing goods with other items that aren’t accounted for. By the busiest time of year, Brown says—the end-of-year holidays—retailers average well below 75 percent accuracy.

TrueVUE is intended to provide clarity into what is actually in stock at each store, and to thereby reduce the incidence of out-of-stock errors causing customers who expect products to be onsite to then cancel orders because they are not. Increasingly, however, Sensormatic has found that its customers wanted an easily deployable solution, and that they wanted to take advantage of both inventory management and loss prevention with a single solution.

Sensormatic sells electronic article surveillance systems for managing shrinkage across a retailer’s enterprise. “We have a significant portfolio of technology around exit gates,” Brown says. TrueVUE enables the two applications to be merged into a single cloud-based solution, by which items detected as having been removed from a store are automatically updated in inventory as requiring replenishment. The company also offers its ShopperTrak Traffic Insights platform and its Sensormatic Shrink Management as a Service loss-prevention platform, both in a cloud model.

Sensormatic works with partners to provide hardware and other technology, and also makes some of its own sensors and devices. This includes BLE beacons that can transmit data to mobile phones and thereby identify the movements of shoppers and store personnel, while also providing them with content about products within a store. “We’ve provided a high degree of functionality on our legacy platform of TrueVue,” Brown says, but adds, “It’s just a more traditional environment. As we’ve moved toward a SaaS model and a SaaS platform, we’re taking away the need for customers to worry about any hosting model. We take care of that.”

Brent Brown

With the use of the GCP, Brown reports, retailers have few upfront costs. “We can turn them on very quickly and move the solution very quickly from pilot phase to deployment,” he states. The solution is intended to be modular. If a customer doesn’t want a particular feature, that feature can simply be turned off.

With the SaaS model, Brown says, businesses can now more readily expand beyond inventory management and loss prevention. “When a customer deploys,” he explains, “the most pressing need is around inventory accuracy,” but the next step is often loss prevention, followed by customer-facing systems.

The next step may be to manage the experience for shoppers in fitting rooms. For instance, retailers could provide touch screens or “magic mirrors” with built-in RFID readers in dressing rooms in order to detect what garment is being tried on, and then offer content about that item, as well as other products that could accompany it. Shoppers could request another size from sales associates by pressing prompts on the screen.

That kind of feature, Brown says, “offers an incredible up-sell capability. But you don’t get to that if you don’t have accuracy in the sales floor or back room.” For instance, if a shopper were seeking a smaller size of a blouse he or she was trying on, the inventory data would need to be accurate to indicate that another item was available, and to help the sales associate locate that item. The technology can also allow sales personnel to better manage which merchandise is on display, and to identify if a specific size or color needs to be moved from the back room. The Geiger counter feature allows users of the handheld reader to quickly locate a specific item.

TrueVUE also includes analytics showing how products are being sold, when they need to be replenished and which goods have been lost to shrinkage. “Those two worlds are colliding more and more,” Brown says. “Loss prevention and inventory management are no longer two unique environments.”

A third piece of the solution involves capturing data regarding the movements of shoppers. With ShopperTrak, the TrueVUE platform can use BLE or another technology to identify customers’ movements past specific displays, as well as determine whether they stop, and for how long, or if they simply keep walking. This enables retailers to collect a deeper level of analytics, Brown says, allowing them to ascertain not only which products are on hand but also which are of interest to shoppers.

Since the SaaS version of TrueVUE was released, several retailers have deployed the solution at multiple stores as early adopters. Some of Sensormatic’s customers are already capturing data regarding traffic, inventory levels and loss prevention as part of a SaaS service. Those companies have asked to remain unnamed.

The deployment of the SaaS version of TrueVUE is prompted by the growing adoption rate of RFID for item-level tracking, Brown says. “We’re away from the early adopters into an early majority of retailers who are ready to really invest in this,” he states. The latest version of TrueVUE, he predicts, “should allow us to execute with a lot more retailers and speed up that process. They no longer have to wait months to get data back.” The technology is moving beyond retailer applications, he adds, with other companies investigating the technology’s deployment for tracking goods or assets. “The use cases are starting to grow.”