Intel Corp. today revealed details on a new technology that aims to boost inventory management abilities in stores and could very well level the playing field between brick-and-mortar and e-commerce.
The tech company said it has an upgraded retail sensor platform that’s been piloted by a Levi Strauss & Co. San Francisco store since May. Intel also partnered with radio frequency identification technology-maker Smartrac on the platform.
“I firmly believe, and we’ll see how this plays out, all the online analytics you can get from the dot-com world, you can get in the store,” said Intel director of retail analytics Dan Gutwein.
Born-online brands have long argued that their access to big data sets has given them a leg up on legacy retailers by allowing them to make merchandising changes in a matter of minutes or ordering decisions customized to very specific customer tastes.
Intel’s technology utilizes RFID technology, tacking sensors on inventory to track their movement throughout a store and deliver data within a matter of milliseconds to store employees. It can aid in inventory replenishment or help workers make educated suggestions to customers on related items to purchase in much the same way Amazon.com makes additional product suggestions based on what’s been viewed.
That means a pair of Levi’s 501 stonewashed jeans can be tracked throughout the store — from the time it’s picked up by a customer to the time it enters a dressing room or is synched with a point-of-sale system indicating a purchase.
Core to the research, which was done by Intel’s retail solutions division that makes up its Internet of Things group, was making the technology easy to install and make it as and “plug-in-play as possible,” according to Gutwein. Intel said installation of its sensor platform results in a 35 to 40 percent reduction in time and costs.
Costs are still being worked out and Gutwein declined to provide specifics on what the platform’s price tag could look like for retailers. “Once you solve operational efficiencies and effectiveness, you can look at the solutions and say, ‘What else can we do with it?’ Gutwein said.
The sensor platform goes beyond being an aid for traditional retailers, but a tool for the omnichannel business strategies most companies are looking at — whether they’re online, offline or hybrid brands.
“It’s all about having that product and understanding what the consumer wants, how they want to be interacted with and making sure you’re able to provide that to them,” Gutwein said.