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Smart Shelves: What Retailers Should Know About the Emerging Trend

Using connected technology could help businesses manage and get a better grasp of the market, both in-store and across the supply chain.

“Although, connecting supply chain to in-store inventory has long been a challenge for retailers. It is crucial that organizations have intelligence built into their supply chains, as customer expectations begin to rise.” Says Connie Testa, CSS Tec Director.


What are Smart Shelves?

A “smart shelf” refers to the integration of technology and networking with retail shelves. The technology allows shelves to detect when an item has been purchased or removed from a shelf. This aids retailers in tracking inventory and restocking when needed.

Smart shelves are not entirely new but have remerged as consumers have become accustomed to this type of automation. This time around cloud-based data can help maximize the experience. A key innovator in this type of technology, Amazon, launched the “Amazon Go” stores in 2018, where consumers can purchase products simply by taking the item off a shelf and leave without making any payment transaction, as they will be charged upon walking through the exit. This initiative leverages the company’s supply chain strengths, as well as cloud-based capabilities.


What are the benefits?

Amazon is not the only one showing interest in smart shelves, other retailers are getting in on the concept as the growth in interest around smart supermarkets rise. Smart supermarkets integrate elements such as smart shopping carts to automatically track purchases and even promote products to customers as well. One grocery store chain, Kroger, is teaming up with Microsoft on this initiative to make the grocer’s shelves smarter.

These developments can potentially reshape the retail experience if integrated with frictionless shopping concepts that allow people to buy products without having to go through a checkout process. Dell and Intel, recommend integrating frictionless shopping concepts with computer vision and AI to do this most effectively.

Smart shelves can also help limit the amount of manual labor required to update price tags. Another approach by Microsoft and Kroger uses a system based on a cloud solution with low-power LCD screens to display pricing information and targeted promotions.


How do Smart Shelves use IoT technology?

Internet of Things (IoT) technology is a significant part of smart shelf implementation. The shelves rely on various kinds of connected devices including smart scales, which can detect if an item is removed from a specific place and can identify when an item needs replacing. In other cases, grocers have tried adding cameras to shelves to personalize the experience for shoppers.


What do retailers need to implement smart shelves?

The value of smart shelves is not the gimmicky, flashy aspect, or even the frictionless experience, it’s the infrastructure that can scale to meet the needs of a small or big-box retailer. The needs may range but the cloud-based transformation could reshape the way retailers do business.

By looking at effective digital transformation strategies and implementing them with the future in mind, retailers can bring innovation to their shelves while advancing their overall infrastructure.




About CSS Tec:

CSS Tec provides staffing solutions for employers across a variety of industries nationwide. Our unwavering commitment to quality, flexible delivery models, and ability to be process adept has positioned us among the leaders in the IT Staffing Industry. Our tenured team of Recruiters are committed to finding highly skilled resources dedicated to the technology domain.

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