NRF's Offbeat Rollouts, From Kiosks To Kleptomania

New technology introductions aim to help retailers speed customer returns and reduce shrink caused by employees and shoppers. 

Among the major announcements at the National Retail Federation show in New York will be a major 2-D barcode trial backed by Microsoft. The technology, new to the United States , allows retailers to generate sales and mine data from consumers who use their smart phones to interact with posters and other 2-D media.

Other significant technology products to be unveiled include:

  • A company called StopLift uses digital video and software analytics to "see" if a cashier moves a product through the check-out line without scanning it. "By mathematically analyzing the pixels of digitized video, the patented software scrutinizes how exactly a cashier handles each item to determine whether or not he/she has properly scanned it," the company said in a statement. "The system is capable of understanding the full set of fraudulent behaviors including when a cashier covers up a bar code by hand or purposely misaligns the scanner and item such that it is not scanned." The company said that Safeway is trying out the system.
  • Clarity Consulting and Microsoft partnered to create an integrated POS (point of sale) system, with a fingerprint scanner for the cashier to be identified. "The new POS system features a 15-inch touch screen facing the customer that shows images of everything scanned and purchased. The screen also gives the user a one-touch menu for viewing items, taking away items and paying for their items." The offering has a typical bottom-of-the-basket scanner, but with a twist. It uses image validation software to make sure that a product looks like what its barcode says it should look like.
  • Xterprise is using the Sam's Club tagging requirement effective at the end of January 2008 to push its source-tagging package. The vendor will rollout a SAAS (software as a service) edition of its Xterprise Automated RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) Module for those Sam's Club suppliers. The package will use a hosted application and Web technology enabling remote RFID-label printing from a Web browser instead of an application terminal.
  • NCR is going to roll out two kiosks at the show. An NCR kiosk is hardly unusual, but they've come up with some interesting uses: to handle product returns and to issue gift cards. The Self-Returns unit is the more challenging of the two. Consumers are instructed to rescan their purchases and to also scan the receipt. The merchant is given the option of adding some questions, such as the reason for the return. When done, the consumer inserts the original credit card, which is credited the amount.
Retail Center Editor Evan Schuman can be reached at

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