RFID Customer Tracking

By Evan Schuman  |  Posted 2005-01-17 Print this article Print

The CIO—who also wants to sell MP3 systems with that customers favorite music already installed—said that he truly likes RFID embedded into loyalty cards and is trying to figure out ways to creatively leverage it. "When you come into my store and you break my beam, a coupon dispenser that is standing right at the door could spit out specific coupons because of your behavior," he said. With Web-offline integration, Jones hopes to know, for example, that a customer entering the store was evaluating plasma TVs on the Web site over the weekend and—when he breaks another beam—is now standing near the plasma TVs.
"Its now obvious that hes evaluating plasma TVs. Hes been in my stores and walked through the TV area, watched a demo and walked out. He had looked at those pages on our Web site," Jones said. "Lets say I have years inventory of RCAs. Maybe I offer him a $500 coupon right on the spot."
Jones said the chain is currently upgrading and replacing major systems—all POS (point of sale) systems are being replaced with new Linux units—but he wants to see more software intelligence built in. Software should be able to do a lot of the monitoring and decision-making referenced above, he said. "Youve got to build in a sophisticated neural learning engine." Jones is working with various technology partners, including Yantra, IBM and 360Commerce. One sophisticated retail approach today is predicting the weather before the weather reports do. Does it work? To read more, click here. Most of the things he is exploring have to happen in the store, preferably soon after—or when—the customer walks in the store, he said. "The point of sale is not the point to be doing this. Its too late," he said. Jones also sees cultural and community changes in a post-9/11 world, which is what fueled his "store employee delivering to the home" concept. "There are going to be a lot more gated communities. Were talking home schooling and having to digitally accommodate people in their homes. "We can have a debate about who is going to own the customer in the store. That customer walks into the store and puts on Circuit City headsets, where we pipe in promotional material based on GPS input. I own the customer at that point," Jones said, adding that integrating digital signage into the equation helps. Retail Center Editor Evan Schuman can be reached at Evan_Schuman@ziffdavis.com. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on technologys impact on retail.

Evan Schuman is the editor of CIOInsight.com's Retail industry center. He has covered retail technology issues since 1988 for Ziff-Davis, CMP Media, IDG, Penton, Lebhar-Friedman, VNU, BusinessWeek, Business 2.0 and United Press International, among others. He can be reached by e-mail at Evan.Schuman@ziffdavisenterprise.com.

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