Japanese Retailer Aeon Checks Out Checkpoint's RFID-enabled Robot

The company is switching to an RFID-based electronic article surveillance system, and is testing the robot's ability to track inventory to monitor the locations of goods at its flagship store.
By Claire Swedberg
Mar 16, 2016

Japanese general-merchandise chain Aeon Retail is piloting an RFID-enabled robot to track inventory at its flagship store in Chiba, as well as rolling out an RFID-based electronic article surveillance (EAS) system, using technology provided by Checkpoint Systems.

Since December 2015, the robot—a prototype provided by Checkpoint—has been capturing the ID numbers of tagged goods as it moves throughout the store. The robot then matches that information with the retailer's inventory-management software data.

Aeon is testing the ability of Checkpoint's prototype robot to automate the inventory-counting process, eliminate human error, reduce operational costs and free up employees so they can better serve shoppers.
The retailer first began using EPC Gen 2 passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags for some of its products in 2013, by tagging and tracking two categories of goods. The solution consists of Checkpoint's UNO dual RF and RFID labels, as well as its Champion RFID tags for EAS loss prevention and inventory management, says Jung Pyon, Checkpoint's global product management VP. The tags are then read during inventory checks and at the exit, provided that they have not been removed from the items.

Checkpoint's Jung Pyon
Previously, the retailer has employed acousto-magnetic EAS technology to provide anti-theft protection. However, the company reports, that system did not identify what was being removed, or assist with inventory management.

For the new RFID-enabled EAS rollout, the retailer installed Checkpoint's Evolve iRange P10 EAS gate at the exit to its Chiba store. The EAS gate's built-in Wirama 1500 RFID reader, Pyon says, captures the ID numbers of tagged items leaving the store, and also signals an alert.

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