Article
Sithamparanathan Sabesan

'Yes we have that size in stock' PervasID RFID system designed to increase sales

By Rachel Holdsworth - 08 November 2016

Many sales are lost because the shopper can’t find the size she wants, even though the item might be available in the stockroom. PervasID, a University of Cambridge spin-out, is launching the world’s first cost-effective, near 100 per cent accurate, wide area passive RFID system that automates stock control and removes the need for handheld readers.

Although the passive tags currently used on clothes and other items are cost-effective and don’t need batteries, they have a reliable detection range of only 2-3 metres and so require the shop assistant to check each tag with a handheld reader. 

The next generation PervasID system, Space Ranger 9100, overcomes this problem. It uses a network of antennas located discretely at intervals across the shop floor and stockroom. A single RFID reader can cover up to 400 m2 with almost 100 percent detection accuracy, allowing automatic monitoring of nearly all the tags and constant update of stock control.

The system is compact and capable of easily scaling for large buildings and can easily accommodate unusual store layouts.

The PervasID system is particularly beneficial for high street shops that have large and complex stock with a rapid turnover. It maintains records of stock levels, alerts shop assistants to popular items that are selling fast and gives information about other stores that have the item available. The system could also reduce shrinkage.

The system has been trialled with a major high-street brand. It has installed PervasID Readers in a ~4,000 square metres retail store with ~100,000 tagged items. The system covers intake, storage, sales and fitting room areas over two floors.

Dr Sithamparanathan Sabesan, co-founder & CEO of PervasID, says the system can provide intelligence to drive up sales.  He says: “An advantage of having readers located on the ceiling is that movement of items within the store can be monitored in real-time, highlighting clothes that are not displayed on sales floors, clothes that are tried on but never purchased, collections of items selected together, and it can track how the shopper moves through the store. All of this can be used to help the retailer improve the shopping experience. It also offers opportunity for up-selling by suggesting companion items and alternatives based on success with other shoppers.”

The core technologies underlying PervasID’s new products were developed by a team in the University of Cambridge Engineering Department and commercialised through Cambridge Enterprise, which has worked with the founders since 2009. Cambridge Enterprise Seed Funds led a £720k investment round for PervasID which was announced in October 2016.

Gillian Davis, Cambridge Enterprise Technology Manager, said: “It is absolutely fantastic to see PervasID move into the next phase with their company. The founders have worked on this so hard.”

The potential for the PervasID system has been recognised by Victor Christou, CEO of Cambridge Innovation Capital (CIC). CIC invests long-term, ‘patient capital’ into companies in the Cambridge cluster, including PervasID, that have disruptive technologies and the potential to become significant players.

Christou says: “Low cost, long distance sensing of passive RFID tags is an unmet need in the retail and logistics industries. PervasID offers a new approach that facilitates a move towards the ‘Internet of Things’ while offering potential for a significant return on investment in the short term. 

“The retailers that we have introduced to PervasID are excited by the potential of the technology to boost sales in their high street stores.”

Space Ranger 9100 provides greatly extended coverage area compared to PervasID’s current reader, requiring 60 per cent fewer readers and significantly reducing the cost of installation. PervasID is also launching Gate Ranger 9100, a portal reader for strategic locations, such as entrances and exits and loading areas. This provides highly accurate portal solution with tag direction capability.

This EPC Gen-2-compliant ultra-high-frequency RFID reader is based on patented award-winning passive RFID reader technology, it detects the passive tags within a distributed antenna system (DAS).

Space Ranger 9100 and Gate Ranger 9100 will be on show at the RFID Journal Live! Europe on 10th November 2016.  

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