Talking shop: wireless for retail

The hard-fought battle to keep the nation shopping on the high street and not from the sofa is ongoing. Sam Fenwick explores the technology retailers can use to gain the advantage

Our nation’s high streets are suffering. You’d be hard-pressed to find one anywhere without a couple of vacant windows or closing down signs. And online shopping has arguably been the cause of this demise. According to PwC’s Total Retails Survey 2016 25 per cent of UK shoppers have used their mobile to compare online prices with those in-store. And 41 per cent admitted they would buy from an offshore online retailer if they found an item cheaper. The Office for National Statistics’ ‘Retail sales in Great Britain: Jan 2017’ statistical bulletin found online sales had increased 10.1 per cent year-on-year, and accounted for 14.6 per cent of all retail spending between 1 January 2017 and 28 January 2017.

Although technology has contributed massively to physical retail’s demise, it could also be the thing to save it. One of the biggest headaches for retailers is keeping an up-to-date inventory, and this becomes increasingly difficult as the number of product lines grows and when customers don’t return stock to the shelves. To address this issue PervasID has developed a system that uses its patented advanced signal processing techniques combined with off the shelf passive (battery-free) RFID tags and distributed antennas that can provide “near 100 per cent accurate real time” stock inventory data. The system is commercially available and has been successfully trialed with a retailer over the last 18 months.

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