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Adaptive Method of Updating of ESLs on a Priority Basis by Available Customer Service Devices Disclosure Number: IPCOM000099015D
Original Publication Date: 2005-Mar-09
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Mar-09
Document File: 2 page(s) / 29K

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IBM has investigated retail industry interest in developing an Electronic Shelf Label (ESL) system that is based on RFID tags. The labels would basically be a RFID tag with a display attached. This is an attractive idea because RFID tags provide an inexpensive connection to the display. The problem is that the radio range of RFID tags is very short and this would require a person to move a RFID reader/writer through the store in order to update the ESLs. This defeats one of the major reasons to use ESLs - completely automated updating of shelf labels. Other ESL systems require substantial physical store infrastructure in the form of hard wired remote transceivers or access points which act as a bridge between the ESLs and the store's computing system. Typically, the remote transceivers must be close together (1 or 2 per grocery store gondola) to work, thus many per store are required. The remote transceivers do not need to be as close together as would typical RFID reader/writers needed to communicate with ESLs in a store. NCR and Telepanel make ESL systems. ------------------------ The core idea of this invention is to incorporate RFID reader/writers in consumer service devices (CSD) that are used by store customers as they shop. The CSD is mounted on a grocery cart and presents information to the customer as they push the cart through the store. A store server based application would analyze the information related to the ESLs needing updating and the position of the CSDs in the store and inform appropriately located CSDs in the store to update specific ESLs near them, as much as the charge in the CSD's battery would allow. Each UPC item in the store will be mapped to the corresponding RFID tag ID during the tag installation. When the price changes are identified, the list of RFID tags to be updated can be generated. The CSD can read the tags in its proximity and find the RFID tags which need to be updated. IBM's Store Integrator product provides a web service which will return the correct in-store price for an UPC symbol which can be written back to the RFID tag which needs to be updated. If a particular high priority ESL was not near a CSD or the anticipated path of a CSD, the server application would ask second server application to analyze active shopper's buying patterns. The second server application would then offer a bargain to a particular shopper that would lure the shopper into pushing the CSD/cart near the particular ESL that needed updating. The server application could also generate an exception list with a map through the store which could be used by an employee to push a CSD for the purpose of updating tags which were missed by the shopping public. This saves the store having an unique device for updating the tags.

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Adaptive Method of Updating of ESLs on a Priority Basis by Available Customer Service Devices

    In operation, a store would have RFID tag based electronic shelf edge labels (ESLs) throughout the store with ability to display a price for the UPC that it is associated with. The store would also provide Consumer Service Devices (CSDs) to customers for shopping assistance while moving through the store. A store server based application could determine what price changes to send to each CSD for updating the ESL near them, as much as the charge in the CSD's battery would allow. There are at least two scenarios where this implementation can work well. One is based on Location technology, and the other is not.

Location technology scenario:

    In this case, the server application would analyze the following pieces of information to notify the CSDs to update specific ESLs near them:

Using a store planagram and a price update list, mapping the UPC symbol to the associated tag ID, and the tag's store location The importance (priority) of updating a particular ESL. The priority of updating an ESL could be based on factors such as:

The expected increase in store profit from changing the price on an item, as compared to the same for a different item.

The need to reduce inventory of an item.

An external event, such as a ball game, which may significantly influence sales of an item.

An item associated with a special store wide or corporate wide sales promotion.

Based on the store grid and CSD location signals, determine where the CSDs are. Where the CSDs are headed now, as determined from the store's CSD location function.

Where the CSDs are likely to be going, as determined from the customer's shopping list.

How much charge remains in the CSD's battery? Reading and writing a RFID tag can take power that may be needed for the CSD's shopper function. The CSD's RFID reader/writer would not be turned on and used until it is known from the store's location function that the CSD is physically ne...