Checking it Out

BY Dan Berthiaume

Cameras at the point of sale have become a routine feature of brick-and-mortar stores. They help ensure that items do not get stolen or accidentally passed through checkout lines without being scanned. But the “tale of the tape” by itself is not always obvious when it comes to detecting and preventing loss at the POS.

“I’ve been a cashier, so I know a cashier can miss something,” said Doug Haworth, director of loss prevention, Woods Supermarket. The Bolivar, Missouri-based independent chain, which operates nine supermarkets and two convenience stores, has an honesty and integrity program for all cashiers. Even so, when Haworth saw a demonstration of the ScanItAll computer vision solution from Stoplift Checkout Vision Systems at an industry conference in the first quarter of 2011, it caught his interest.

Driven to Distraction

Woods Supermarket tested the ScanItAll server in one store, connecting it to the existing POS camera system. It started getting results almost immediately. The system uses mathematical algorithms to analyze video of cashiers handling items at a pixelated level, detecting motions that indicate an item was not properly scanned, such as covering a bar code with a hand. It also analyzes items in a grocery cart, including hard-to-see areas such as underneath the carriage, to see if they have been scanned.

In the first 10 days of the pilot, the retailer detected 40 items that had not been scanned and would not have been detected through cameras alone.

“There was no ‘sweethearting’ [employees purposely not scanning items] or customer theft,” said Haworth. “Cashiers were distracted talking to customers and ran items, not noticing whether or not they beeped, or the bagger would be in ‘bagging’ mode and grab whatever items were on the conveyor belt and put them right in the bag before they could be scanned.”

Success Breeds Success

After running the initial pilot for 30 days, Woods had already saved a significant amount of money in recovered losses at the POS, and decided to implement a full rollout across the chain.

“We got the most hits in the first three months of installing ScanItAll in a store,” said Haworth. “Newer cashiers didn’t realize they had to slow down and look at the register. We calculated that we would achieve ROI within two months of implementation.”

As part of the solution, Woods also has a secure Web 2.0 interface running a live feed from its NCR Advanced Checkout Solution POS server to a remotely hosted video analytics platform that matches up the number of items detected passing through the checkout area to the number of items that have been scanned. Woods can obtain store-level performance reports and also view checkout video and receipt data, broken down by individual incidents at individual stores.

Since the initial rollout, Woods Supermarket has compared the data it gets from ScanItAll with data from its existing Shrink Trax POS exception reporting tool. And in the one store where the retailer runs a self-checkout terminal, it has implemented StopLift Self Checkout Accelerator that is designed to immediately flag unscanned merchandise and alert the attendant.

“We had eight cases in the past year where customers were caught not ringing an item up,” said Haworth. “If they showed intent, we called the cops.”


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Bridging the Divide

BY Marianne Wilson

Personalization, localization, interaction, “limited edition” retail and store experience. These are the top priorities — to varying degrees — for retailers as they look to bridge the divide between online and offline retail in the physical space. Here’s a look at how it plays out in three new stores:

Oakley: Sport lifestyle brand Oakley describes its new flagship on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue as a “disruptive display of science wrapped in art.” From its tectonic-plated exterior to its floating digital ceiling, the store entices customers with a dazzling combination of technological innovation, customization and iconic design.

The interior mixes the old with the new, preserving the 1906 building’s original brickwork, while adding a state-of-the-art digital ceiling. The installation — nine rows of 27 LCD screens suspended in fragment forms across the entire length of the ceiling — wraps progressively downward and helps draw shoppers in from outside. The content includes branded storytelling, art pieces, animations and footage of Oakley athletes. It is divided into four segments that run in alternating patterns and rhythms according to store hours and outside activity.

With some 2,100 sq. ft. of retail space, the flagship offers a full range of Oakley’s eyewear, along with apparel, watches, accessories and more. It includes a custom eyewear bar, where customers, aided by touchscreens, can choose from more than 20 different lens tints and 28 frames to build their own eyewear, with nearly 600 combinations possible. Customers can also custom-etch their lenses with personalized inscriptions and logos.

The store also houses Oakley’s new Rx center, which is being rolled out in Oakley locations across the country. Using advanced digital equipment that Oakley helped develop, certified opticians fit customers in Oakley eyewear with optimal fit and clarity.

(Store concept design: Oakley, Foothill Ranch, California; Ceiling installation: Moment Factory, Outremont, Quebec, in collaboration with SITU Fabrication, Brooklyn, New York; and Fulkra, Los Angeles)

Urban Outfitters: Space Ninety 8, a new concept from Urban Outfitters, prioritizes the store experience, offering fashion, food and other lifestyle elements in a one-of-a-kind environment designed to connect with the local community. Located in a renovated warehouse in the hipster Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, the 38,000-sq.-ft., multi-level space has an industrial look, complete with exposed ceilings and brick walls — and lots of boho-chic accents. From DJ parties to temporary installations (most recently, a bicycle-repair solutions vending machine tailored to the needs of urban cyclists), the store offers a changing lineup of activities and displays designed to keep the store experience fresh and new — and keep customers coming back.

From the bottom up, Space Ninety 8 has local appeal. The basement level is dedicated to a pop-up — Adidas Originals is the inaugural tenant — and is accented with colorful, bold prints (the work of a local artist).

The ground floor has a market area, a dedicated space that showcases goods from local designers and artisans, all of whom have created goods exclusive to the store. The floor also houses a vintage shop called Urban Renewal, a funky shoe boutique, and two in-store shops, or smaller pop-ups.

The second floor features Urban Outfitter’s womenswear collections, accessories, beauty products and home goods. The third floor houses the brand’s menswear collections, along with a curated selection of books and music. There is also a seating area and an iPhone charging station.

A short staircase in the men’s area leads to a bar area, and up from that is the New York outpost of the trendy Los Angeles eatery, The Gorbals. There is an outdoor extension of the restaurant and bar on the rooftop, along with scenic views of Manhattan and a flower shop.

Time Warner Cable: Sleek and technology-driven, the first-ever flagship of Time Warner Cable, in Manhattan’s Flatiron District, invites customers to immerse themselves in the company’s diverse offerings. The 14,000-sq.-ft. store features an open floor plan where customers can jump from TV to laptop to oversized-wall-mounted-tablet to experience and interact with the latest in home entertainment.

Touchscreen monitors and hands-on demo stations are located throughout the store, along with multiple-screen video walls and smaller signage tablets that highlight offerings. The showpiece of the space is a giant, 90-in. custom-built tablet that works like a real mobile device.

The modern, digitally savvy vibe is balanced with warm accents. A cozy living-room vignette showcases a digital fireplace as part of a smart security and home-management experience. And the comfortable seating encourages customers to linger.

Time Warner Cable plans to roll out refreshed prototypes based on the flagship design to hundreds more stores across its footprint.

(Design: Fame, Minneapolis; Digital installations: Reality Interactive, Middletown, Connecticut)


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Oakley’s Eyewear Revolution


Oakley, a wholly owned subsidiary of Luxottica Group, the world’s largest eyewear company, is looking to take its performance-driven, namesake brand to the next level. On the heels of its first global marketing initiative, the company has opened a state-of-the-art flagship on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. (Oakley operates stores under the banners of Oakley Stores, Bright Eyes and The Optical Shop of Aspen, and has a varied optics brand portfolio that includes Eye Safety Systems, Oakley, Oliver Peoples and Paul Smith Spectacles.)

The Fifth Avenue boutique showcases how the brand is tapping digital technology to enhance its interaction with shoppers and add a heightened theatricality to the merchandising of its premium eyewear and lifestyle products. The pièce de résistance of the space, which is Oakley’s most sensory rich and immersive environment to date, is a dramatic, nine-screen digital ceiling installation engineered by Moment Factory. . The store also features an optician-staffed optical center that uses new motion-capture technology to streamline the process for fitting prescription eyewear.

Erik Searles, VP of Oakley Retail, spoke with Chain Store Age about how the flagship leverages new technology to express the brand’s innovation/ industrial-design driven DNA in fresh ways.

What factors prompted the launch of the flagship?

Fifth Avenue offers great exposure for the Oakley brand, and a great opportunity to showcase where Oakley retail is going. The other Oakley stores located in the market (Times Square, SoHo and JFK Airport) have received a tremendous response from local residents and visitors. Opening an innovative flagship store was the natural next step to bring every element of our brand directly to our customers.

How does it create an immersive digital experience?

It starts with a state-of-the-art immersive digital ceiling — the largest interior digital installation on Fifth Avenue. The ceiling display enables Oakley to share brand stories with customers in an unexpected and engaging way. Stories are told using nine integrated screens that feature iconic Oakley products, design sketches, art pieces, animation and athlete videos. Visitors might see metal and glass twitch, bend and pull apart to reveal the day or night sky depending on the time of day, athletes performing beyond reason, or images ripped and pulled apart as the screens become one or function independently.

We wanted to create a curated experience consisting of main stories and transitional stories. The next phase will include consumer interaction.

Who are you targeting with this store?

Our store sites are chosen to reach Oakley’s core active-lifestyle customer — those who push beyond limits in sports and everyday life.

How does the store use digital technology to enhance the shopping experience?

Oakley is using digital technology and mobile devices to service customers in its new in-store custom and prescription eyewear centers, which are launching in all Oakley stores in addition to the new Fifth Avenue flagship. Customers can now partner with our experts using a tablet to build their own personalized Oakley eyewear. The experience includes millions of combinations of lens tints, frame styles and colors, some available exclusively through Oakley’s custom program. The eyewear is built on the iPad and then right in front of the customer, ready to take home.

Oakley is also utilizing mobile POS to help customers via quick transactions.

What is Oakley doing in the prescription eyewear space?

We are revolutionizing the process for prescription eyewear with the addition of in-store optical centers. Oakley stores pioneered the use of digital-dispensing practices on a mobile device so that our opticians can provide customers with the most accurate vision correction possible.

Our certified opticians use a lightweight device that Oakley helped develop to ensure a perfect fit. The device fits onto the customer’s chosen frame, and with the snap of a camera, the program reads and records all the needed measurements. Customers also see photographs of themselves in the eyewear before they complete their selection.

We think it’s critical to have an optician on staff. The customer doesn’t want to speak to someone like me for his or her eyewear needs.

Warby Parker has made a splash in the eyewear wholesale and retail sector. How have they altered the competitive landscape in your business?

They [Warby Parker] are price-conscious and simple, where as we are creating [premium] lenses and frames.

Unlike any retailer, at Oakley, it’s in our core to identify problems, solve them by creating inventions, and then wrapping those inventions in art. Our products and our store experiences are completely unique, which is why our brand enthusiasts love Oakley so much. If our products aren’t good enough for the world’s best athletes and most extreme environments, they aren’t good enough period. That’s why we partner with leading athletes to develop our products.

What does Oakley hope to achieve with the new flagship?

Our Fifth Avenue flagship store represents the best of Oakley retail. It offers a sensory experience unlike any other Oakley store — fusing breakthrough technology with iconic Oakley design. It enables us to share brand stories with customers in an unexpected and engaging way.

What is the rollout plan for the flagship concept?

Oakley will monitor the customer response to the elements in the Fifth Avenue flagship, and roll out key elements to other stores. Currently, we are in the process of rolling out our in-store custom and prescription eyewear programs to all 163 Oakley stores in the United States.


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