Store of the Future: Kroger Leads the Way

One of the largest retailers, Kroger, has introduced its new Retail Site Intelligence (RSI) enterprise IT architecture. The architecture helps drive the store of the future by using ZigBee wireless mesh networks to integrate video analytics, wireless devices, POS devices, handheld sensors, scales, IP cameras, and Vigil360 video management software into a next-gen platform for retail applications, including loss prevention, store automation and analytics.
"Retail Site Intelligence is, above all, about customer first innovation. We are leveraging technology to help customers have the best possible shopping experience in retail stores, whether by more easily finding the products they want or saving time at checkout," said Chris Hjelm, Kroger's SVP and CIO. "We expect Retail Site Intelligence to be the cornerstone of the technology infrastructure for Kroger stores in the future."
ZigBee's wireless setup enables Kroger to combine the intelligent platform features easily and cost-effectively. "ZigBee's radio interface helps to handle the security and video analytics, as well as enables queue management, mobile shopping, and also serves as temperature sensors. Not only is the cost of ongoing maintenance lower, but there is less complexity and the entire environment is simplified," says Dion Perkins, R&D engineer for Kroger during an exclusive call with RIS News.
The video management software provides features, such as motion detection, camera mapping, bandwidth remote viewing and local/remote video investigation. The analytic modules enhance loss prevention and security, allowing the retailer to respond to issues that arise in a timely manner.
Low-cost ZigBee temperature sensor tags are used for cold storage to report temperature changes, eliminating the cost of manual and inaccurate temperature monitoring by associates. The door sensors also monitor activity at entry and exits to detect handheld devices in real-time and document the event. Moving forward, the system will integrate with IP cameras to all communication between associates and enable mobile POS. The goal for this rollout is to further improve customer service and store operations. "It isn't about 'cool technology'," says Perkins. "It's about putting the customer first and serving the customer to the best of our ability."
"There is no end in sight to digitizing the store," continues Perkins. "As long as we can continue to leverage our operations research group we will focus on the customer having the best experience possible."