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Good ideas and simple IT reap retail rewards

Cliff Saran
Retailers could reap huge rewards by using relatively simple technology in an innovative way, delegates at the Retail Solutions 2005 show were told.

Although RFID is seen as the future of theft prevention across the supply chain, Asda achieved significant reduction in theft by using a holographic label.

The supermarket chain would normally tag spirits with a reusable theft-prevention device when they are packed onto shelves. This takes time and the cashier needs to remove the tag at the point of sale. The device then needs to be collected so that it can be redeployed.

In a trial over Christmas, which is now being expanded, Martell Cognac and Jameson Whisky bottles were fitted with a disposable tag at the time of bottling.

The bottle also has a holographic label, called Vendormark, specifying that it should only be sold at Asda. This increases the risk to a thief of being caught trying to resell bottles.

The hologram, from loss prevention firm Courtenay Group, also encourages members of the public to contact a hotline should they be sold a bottle illegally.

In the Asda trial, theft was reduced by more than 20%. The practice is now being expanded to cover other spirits, DIY and multimedia products.

B&Q was recognised at the show's European Retail Solutions Awards for another relatively simple idea. It won the Best Use of E-Commerce in a Retail Environment award for its interactive kitchen planner: essentially putting its store-based Cad/Cam kitchen design software online. The project has already achieved a 56% return on investment.

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