BBC News reports that a Barclays Bank survey of 2,000 people showed that “More than two thirds of people have abandoned shopping because it was taking too long to be served.” The survey found that 68% “had abandoned a queue at one time or another.”
If the retailers where those people shop had used mobile point-of-sale queue-busting solutions, they would have seen more satisfied customers. Mobile printers can capture card information, communicate it for authorization, and create sales receipts. Stores can combine these capabilities with mobile computing systems to service customers throughout their facility, prevent long checkout lines or queues from forming, and create other services that improve customer convenience and satisfaction.
Learn more about mobile point of sale here, where you can also see the white paper “Service on the Spot: Mobile Queue Busting Systems for Improved Customer Loyalty and Sales.”
Read the BBC article.
We’ve explored both the use of apparel RFID tagging in retail, and the potential for QR codes. Now we’ve discovered a new use for both! Seems a charity shop in U.K. uses the two technologies to attach a personal story about each piece of clothing as told by the clothing’s donator. Shop visitors can listen to the audio clips via the shop’s RFID readers and audio speakers, or by reading the QR codes via their smart phones. The stories help enhance the value and appeal of the items for potential buyers. Thanks to RetailWire.com for pointing us to the article.
Do you see a place for such a concept in other retail applications?
For more on RFID in retail, check out this white paper: Traceability in Retail—Reducing RFID Media Costs for Best Value.
Click here to learn more about RFID printing/encoding in general.
The Boston Red Sox are in the midst of a pilot program that we thought was worth noting. Under the test program, the Red Sox Nation, at least those buying tickets to games, have the option to add hot dogs, beer and a nice foam finger souvenir to their ticket. That way, no cash is needed when they get to the ball park. The fan just needs to have his bar coded ticket scanned when he gets to the register and he is good to go. Bar code loading, as it’s called, is already available at a number of other Major League parks. Check out the article here.
So we got to thinking…are there other applications in retail?
Jeff Weidauer of Vestcom International proposed an interesting idea in his online RIS News article: using QR codes on shelf labels.
A QR code—a type of bar code that anyone can scan using a smart phone and a free app—directs the phone to a Web site or other Web content. While manufacturers will likely be adding QR codes to product packaging as the technology catches on, Jeff suggests forward-thinking retailers seize upon the possibilities now, and apply QR codes to the shelf edge as part of their mobile strategy. Just think how shelf-edge QR codes could instantly provide shoppers with coupons or relevant information such as country of origin, recipes, and the like.
Actually executing the idea could be relatively easy. Using a QR-capable mobile bar code printer like Zebra’s QL 320 Plus™ model—the mobile printer your store may already use to save time and labor through on-demand, in-aisle, accurate shelf labeling—would be a natural fit for your QR code labeling as well. And it would make it easy to swap out shelf labels with new information based on real-time data available through your wireless network. This white paper can tell you more about the potential ROI available through mobile wireless labeling.
Mobile Shelf Labeling
Read Jeff’s complete article here on RISNews.com. And for a fun look at another interesting (albeit unrelated) application for QR codes, check out this recent Shelf Talker post.
Would you consider adding QR codes to your shelf labels? What other applications for QR codes do you see in retail?
Think of all the steps and travel your food went through to get to the dinner table. From the grower to the grocery store, multiple distributers and handlers serve a role in the food supply chain. However, the longer the supply chain in both time and transit, the more the opportunity for contaminants and bacteria to infect your favorite cuisine. So, who’s watching out for you? What can food growers and distributors do to help protect the food supply?
Ultimately, the FDA provides oversight and regulates the food supply. The FDA’s 2007 Food Protection Plan targets three food safety initiatives:
- Prevention – Promoting increased corporate responsibility so that food problems do not occur in the first place
- Intervention – Risk-based inspections, sampling, and surveillance at high risk points
- Response – Communicate clearly with consumers and other stakeholders during and after food emergencies
Unfortunately, the FDA’s biggest weakness lies in its prevention efforts, and that’s where the foodservice industry can make a huge impact. How? The answer is simple. Supply chain visibility—from the grower to the grocery store—using RFID and barcode technology. Moving RFID and bar code labeling and scanning deeper into food growers, shipping, and packaging chains enables easier tracing throughout the product lifecycle.
Full food supply chain visibility provides an extra layer of protection should a food borne illness occur, allowing growers and distributors to determine if the contamination occurred at the grower or was introduced within the distribution process, and who might else might also be affected. Traceability technology provides significant benefits to food safety. GS1 DataBar bar codes can store serial numbers, lot numbers, and expiration dates for fresh and manufactured food products. RFID tags provide read-write information that offers deep traceability—even if the RFID tag lies buried under bushels of tomatoes.
Consider the following locations for adding traceability:
- Farms and growers – According to the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI), grower-packer-shippers of fresh produce must label each case of product they pack
- Receiving/shipping docks – Foodservice distributors can install RFID tags or bar code labeling equipment to mark incoming materials not already labeled, or scan/update the RFID tags and bar code labels to record or encode information.
- Lot control – Lot numbers can be encoded into bar codes or RFID tags and applied to pallet-, case-, inner pack-, or item-level packaging.
From a business and efficiency perspective, implementing traceability technologies also improves overall supply chain efficiency by delivering better inventory control, faster processing, and faster turn rate on items that have tight freshness windows.
For more details about GS1 bar code labeling and RFID tagging, see www.gs1.com and www.epcglobalinc.org.