April 2, 2004, 12:00 AM

Keeping a virtual eye on point-of-purchase displays

Goliath Solutions has designed a system that places on a POP display case a radio frequency identification tag that can be monitored by wireless web-enabled RFID readers within 40 feet.

No one doubts the effectiveness of POP displays-that’s why CPG manufacturers pay retailers to place displays at the point of purchase hoping to entice shoppers into that impulse purchase. But, short of sending reps to stores to make sure the retailer has followed through with the display, manufacturers have had no good way of monitoring compliance.

And monitoring is important. The formulas for placing POP displays in planned locations and schedules often get lost in the frenzy of daily store operations. “POP display compliance in retail stores is poor, with only about 50% compliance,” says John Thorn, general manager of supply chain and brand solutions for Checkpoint Systems Inc.

But Checkpoint figures there’s a way to assure compliance with POP display plans, and it has bet millions of dollars that it’s right. Checkpoint, a provider of RFID systems for tracking consumer products, is investing $2.5 million in Goliath Solutions, a Chicago-based company that has designed an RFID-based system of monitoring POP displays over the web.

The Goliath system places on a POP display case a radio frequency identification tag that can be monitored by wireless RFID readers within 40 feet of it. The readers send data to a hub application hosted by Goliath indicating the presence of a POP display case, including when it was displayed and when it was removed. Suppliers and retail managers can access the web-based application to confirm that a POP promotion was displayed at the right time. “This Goliath tool gives the brand owner and the retailer the ability to see what compliance is across a network of stores,” Thorn says.

An additional benefit of the system, Thorn says, is that users can see how long the display took to sell out. That is, assuming that the display was removed as soon as it sold out. Because the RFID system places tags only on the display case and not on the individual products, it’s up to store personnel to assure the promotional displays are properly stocked and removed when they are empty or at the end of the promotion.

Thorofare, N.J.-based Checkpoint, which is also beginning to develop middleware for integrating RFID data with back-end software applications like inventory management, sees the POP display-monitoring data eventually integrating with other applications as part of a broader trade promotion management system. Such systems are designed to help suppliers as well as retailers better manage in-store cooperative marketing programs.

The RFID data collected in the POP display monitoring system will eventually be available through the forthcoming Electronic Product Code Network, more commonly known as the EPC Network, which will make RFID data collected throughout supply chains available to authorized users over the Internet, Thorn says. “Our desire here is to create an open environment that allows brands and managers to work together,” he says.

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