Smart Shelves: A Key Component of Retail Digital Transformation

When you walk down the aisles of a supermarket or a department store, a digital display will present you with an advertisement tailored to your past purchase history at the store. When store managers wish to provide a special price offer, they won’t need to replace the printed sale sticker. Instead, they’ll update a digital display in real-time.

This vision of the future shopping experience is becoming a reality today.

Supermarket chain Hannaford is testing digital shelf technologies to make shopping more convenient. Their bet? That the new technologies increase sales and lead to better customer experience. What’s the underlying technology enabling the digital transformation of the retail experience?

Smart Shelves.

What is Smart Shelves?

Smart shelves use RFID technology (e.g., RFID tags, RFID readers and antennas) to automatically track inventory in retail stores. Smart Shelves use weight sensors that are installed within shelves or underneath them. The sensors are used to track the amount of inventory sitting on the shelves.

Smart Shelves enable retailers to check inventory levels and know when a product is out of stock. Smart Shelf technology can also alert retailers to the theft of goods. The benefits of Smart Shelves:

  • Real-time stock information and inventory management
  • Low stock alerts to minimize out of stock situations and lost sales opportunities
  • Correct product positioning and alerts if products are displaced
  • Real-time shelf tags updates
  • Effective and customized product information display
  • Optimized store performance and enhanced customer service

In their “Hype Cycle for Retail Technologies, 2019,” analyst firm Gartner places Smart Shelf technologies in the “On the Rise”; category, alongside Contextualized Real-Time Pricing, Blockchain in Retail and Smart Check-Out.

Smart Shelves can interact with apps installed on customers’ smartphones that contain purchase history information. As customers walk down an aisle, retailers can provide personalized offers based on past purchases of similar products. If customers create a shopping list in the app, Smart Shelves can direct them to where the products are located.

In a Retail TouchPoints article titled “Are Smart Shelves The Tech Supermarkets Need?” Bob Amster, Principal, Retail Technology Group, commented on Smart Shelves’ potential for delivering product and pricing information:

“While there are many benefits to be derived, the most important would be delivering meaningful product information to the shopper, including pricing,” said Amster.

Learn more about Smart Shelves and Retail Digital Transformation

With multiple smart retail technologies evolving and rapid technological advancements, retailers must choose the right technologies that can transform the business wisely.

We dive deeper into Smart Shelves technology in our latest white paper, “Retail Digital Transformation For a Leap to the Next Generation Retail.”

Download our white paper to learn how Smart Shelves fit into the broader ecosystem of Retail Digital Transformation.


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