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How Smart Shelf Technology Will Change Your Supermarket
Jan 02, 2019

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Smart grocery trial. Around 100 Panasonic cameras will be used in the Smart Store to monitor customer behavior. A further 600 cameras from Sony have selected shelves in view and report whether certain goods need to be refilled. When customers walk past a shelf, the cameras recognize the age and gender of the buyers and display special offers on LED screens. Photo by Christoph Dernbach/picture alliance via Getty Images GETTY

You may want to start paying attention to supermarket shelves because they are changing rapidly. Soon, when you walk by a shelf filled with produce, it may have electronic labels, personalized advertisements, RFID technology and internet of things (IoT) sensors. Smart shelves with digital displays are coming to more supermarkets as retailers replace paper labels with advanced technology.

Electronic Labels

If you look at most shelves in a store today, you will see paper labels proudly announcing the prices and discounts sticking out over the edge. Electronic labels will eliminate all the paper and will make it easier to change the prices in an entire store within minutes. Kroger has already started to use EDGE, which is a cloud-based display solution for shelves. Kroger EDGE displays prices, advertisements, nutritional data, coupons and videos. Imagine standing in front of a milk display and instantly comparing nutritional information among different brands while getting a flashing coupon that you scan with your phone.

Personalized Advertisements

Smart shelves have the ability to interact with apps on a customer's smartphone. For example, sensors installed in the shelves can tell when you approach them, so they can show you a deal on the same bread you purchased last week. Additionally, if you use a store's app to create a shopping list, the smart shelves can interact with the list and show you where to find the items you want. Although there are privacy and data collection concerns, some consumers will share their personal information and purchase history to score a deal.

RFID Technology

A radio frequency identification reader (RFID) usually has a tag that contains a microchip, reader and antenna to transmit and receive data. It uses radio waves to identify items and transmit information about them. In supermarkets, RFID technology can help retailers manage and track inventory. RFID tags can alert store associates when the shelves are empty and need restocking or when someone has put the wrong items on a shelf. RFID tags on every item combined with robotic checkouts can automatically scan your purchases and make shopping faster.

IoT Sensors

Internet of things (IoT) sensors have many potential uses in a supermarket, and one of the most basic is temperature control. IoT sensors can check temperatures in freezers and cases to make sure they are correct before a fluctuation ruins all the ice cream or makes all the meat dangerous to sell. The internet of things can also collect data from smart shelves and transmit it to store associates for analysis. The technology can help supermarkets understand which products appeal to consumers and can affect how stores arrange items on display.

Smart shelves will change how you shop in the future. From digital displays that show instant price changes to advertisements linked to your shopping list, you can expect the technology to become more personalized.

I am a freelance writer and editor with more than a decade of experience. My work has appeared on Yahoo! News, Business Insider, The Huffington Post, The Week, MSN Money and many other publications. I have a Bachelor of Science degree from Butler University and graduated sum...

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