Commentary

Smart Shelves Track, Dynamically Price The Products On Them

More smart things are moving into stores.

Among many other connected or smart devices at the National Retail Federation Big Show in New York this week was the smart shelf.

Smart shelves are hardly a new concept and have been around for years, but developments in sensors and connectivity are now making them more practical.

I saw displays of smart shelves from various companies at the trade show.

One of the more interesting, from Powershelf, is even marketed as a service through a partnership with Hitachi. In that case, the retailer would get the shelves along with all the associated capabilities without an actual purchase of the shelves.

The shelves, essentially an entirely networked device, provide for electronic price tags placed in front of the items just behind it on the shelf, much like printed price tags typically found in most stores.

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The key is the connectivity.

When an item is lifted off the shelf, it automatically triggers the inventory system to notify it that an item is at least being considered. When a shelf is empty, the system triggers a restocking alert to store personnel, John Wright, CEO of Powershelf, told me at the show.

If inventory of a product is high, a specific inventory-based offer could occur in real time, such as when a shopper picks up an item, the pricing message could offer ‘two for the price of one.’

Pricing is dynamic and can be based on inventory, essentially more effectively matching supply and demand.

The shelf I saw also contained a beacon so that a smartphone message could be triggered to a shopper near the shelf.

 The Internet of Things is going to totally transform shopping.

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