By Brianna Ahearn, contributing writer
Loss prevention and customer engagement is a prevalent issue for many retailers, and with new technology comes ways to minimize theft and damage to products in-store. Earlier this month Indyme, a provider of real-time shopper engagement and loss prevention technologies, presented their Smart Sense Touch™ at the RILA Retail Asset Protection Conference. Smart Sense Touch ™ is a new sensor-driven technology that will not only help deter theft, but can also alert retail associates to potential sales opportunities.
The Smart Sense Touch™ features a small wireless senor with an unobtrusive design, measuring 1.5'' x 4'' and the sensor can be implemented in most existing retail planograms or shelving units. The Touch sensors pick up vibrations by product interactions, such as handling an item, cutting a package, or otherwise tampering with an item on a shelf or peg hook. The Touch sensors then send a message to associates when a product has been touched a certain amount of times; retailers are able to adjust the window of touches that must occur before a message is sent. The messages regarding suspicious activity (potential shoplifting) and customers in need of assistance are differentiated so the retail associate is able to tell how they need to approach the situation.
“Retailers are increasingly under pressure to deliver a higher level of service and customer experience while protecting their sales and products. This new technology enables retailers to instantly identify in-store customer activity and execute a response strategy to leverage these previously untapped sales and loss prevention opportunities,” says Terry Clancy, Indyme’s Western Europe Commercial Director.
If the customer wants more information about a product, such as reading the back copy of a package or asking questions about materials, the associate can assist them. If the customer is attempting to shoplift, the associate's presence will end the activity, as the shoplifter will know the store is aware of their intentions. For theft, a small flashing light and audible “chirp” sound activates when a customer engages in suspicious activity with a product. The potential shoplifter will likely leave the premises if they know an associate is aware of their activities.
A short-staffed store may not have enough employees to assist potential customers, who then may walk out of the store empty-handed. By increasing awareness of customers' needs on merchandise, retailers can increase their sales and improve the customer experience. The ability to alter the messages for certain items lets a retailer seize on any sales opportunity that may exist, particularly on high-value merchandise. This also enables the retailer to stop locking up some of their high-risk merchandise such as cigarettes, liquor or cosmetics, and instead rely on the sensors for real-time shopping notifications.
As a leading provider of response technology, Indyme has clients who use Smart Response worldwide, with some 22,000 retail locations using their products. Some of their most notable clients include Lowe's, Albertsons, IKEA, and The Container Store. The company recently conducted testing of the Touch sensors for several months in large retail chains, and found good results.
“The results were overwhelmingly positive in these stores; not only in significantly reducing shrink through increased awareness, which we expected, but the stores also enjoyed a surprisingly strong uptick in high-value merchandise sales and even scored higher on customer satisfaction ratings,” says Joe Budano, CEO of Indyme.