Taking Technology To The Tills

While there has been a lot of talk by the big suppliers about the advantages of RFID for warehouse management, for retailers it is in identifying people that this new technology has a lot to offer. The invention of barcodes offered a revolution in product identification and sped up data entry processing significantly. However, when dealing with people, whether customers or staff, there is an extra element of security to consider.

It is this security that offers new potential for retailers. The beauty behind the unique identity that an RFID device provides is that it is technically difficult to impersonate – meaning that it is reliable in the same way as a signature or password.

So now we can identify staff quickly without the need for time consuming password entry, without fear of miss-typed entries or impersonation. This means we can be surer of correctly identifying those responsible for transactions. This is good if we are paying bonuses or commissions, or if we are trying to find out who is bringing down our margins. We can secure the POS against unauthorized use without having to log in again every time we want to use it.

RFID is also a great boon to Customer Loyalty programs. Besides offering a membership card that can instantly identify the customer, the card’s security offers other possibilities. Account customers can now be identified securely without the need for a signature by allowing the customer to control who holds the card. Basically, the retailer puts an end to the nightmare of who is authorized to use the account.

Integrated Surveillance

The age of digital video recording has taken the humble security camera to a new level. It is now possible to store many days of footage on computer hard drives at minimal cost. The new problem is to sift the important details from this avalanche of data. Integrating your POS to your video footage provides the opportunity to tie together the transaction with the scene as it happened. Details of the sale and its items can be superimposed onto the video footage, making it very easy to see who did what at the time of any given transaction. While digital media provides convenient ways to locate footage by time, you don’t always know when something happened, or even if it did happen. Part of the problem is that to act as a deterrent, people need to know that they will be seen when doing something wrong. What is needed is a way to tag the footage wherever an important event takes place.

Tagging can be done by the POS system placing markers in the overlay that is placed on the video footage. This then allows the operator to skip forward to the next event of a given kind, like skipping chapters on a DVD. What is most significant about this is the user’s ability to select what events they want tagged. No Sales, Refunds, price reductions and many other significant events can be tagged. This allows quick and visual confirmation that policies and tills are being handled properly. Of course, it also provides excellent evidence in the unwanted scenario when crime is involved.

Note: the use of surveillance equipment is subject to government regulations and various restrictions on their use may apply in your state. Consult your local authorities before implementing any such systems.

Customer Display Advertising

The popularity of LCD monitors in recent years has drastically reduced their price to the extent that it is now possible to buy high quality and reasonably large displays for less than the cost of a standard customer display post. This has already been exploited by the supermarkets because the larger displays offer opportunities to show the customer much more than just the price of the item. It is now possible to present the customer targeted advertising that is relative to the very products they are purchasing.

So how does this work? Very simply by creating a database of advertisements that are associated with either specific products or product groups. When a product is scanned the price is displayed on the customer screen and the relative ad is shown. Since not all items will have a different ad there will generally be sufficient time for the customer to take in the display. A time delay allows random ads to be displayed after a period of inactivity. Additionally, specific screens can be associated with the beginning and end of the transaction, allowing welcome messages and reminders (e.g. are you a club member?) to be displayed.

All of these technologies are part of the new release of Acumen Elite, the business management system developed and supported by Acumen Computer Systems here in Australia. For more information contact Keith or Bert on 1800-ACUMEN or visit www.acumensystems.com.au.