Companies Trialing Zebra Technologies' IoT Savanna Platform

Reflexis is among five partners selected by Zebra to launch trials of a new Internet of Things edge-based platform designed to make RFID and other sensor-based deployments easy to install and integrate, with low security risk.
By Claire Swedberg

"From a security perspective," Hayes says, "having that access to data on the cloud provides a security risk." Conversely, containing much of that information on the edge reduces that risk.

Reflexis Systems, located in Dedham, Mass., has been helping its retail customers meet challenges in an industry facing growing complexity, says Brett Walker, Reflexis' global alliances and solution consulting VP. Since 2001, the company has been offering its software to help retailers manage everything from store execution to workforce management. But in recent years, Walker reports, the retail industry has had a new set of challenges to meet. He cites the changing behaviors of customers who are buying more merchandise online, the pressure to balance revenue with increased wages and the mounting complexity faced by managers and associates based on store-facing systems and technologies.

Complexity for retailers, Walker says, has slowed the adoption of IoT-based systems, since "there hasn't been an easy way to make the data being generated actionable." In some cases, in fact, retailers may be operating dozens of different store-facing systems, such as Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons, sensors, RFID readers, traffic counters, cameras, and merchandising- and order-management systems.

With the Savanna system, Walker says, managing exceptions that arise daily will become simpler, since the IoT-based data from printers, handheld devices, RFID readers and sensors can be collected, interpreted and then forwarded in real time to Reflexis' MyWorks platform, with which users can view alerts and take action. "We see a large opportunity working with Savanna to further eliminate complexity," Walker states, "and make it easier for managers and store associates to work with customers and sell."

Reflexis is currently in discussions with several of its customers to begin planning the deployments. For instance, a retailer may want to take action based on mid-day inventory counts at the store front or in the back room via RFID, adjust the number of available sales-floor associates based on customer traffic spikes from a sensor situated at the front door, or raise real-time awareness of a potential loss-prevention issue if a piece of merchandise is sensed in an area of the store where it shouldn't be.

A supermarket or grocer that handles freshly prepared foods might need to receive data regarding temperature fluctuations, Walker says—though it may not want to know about a shift of only a degree or two, but rather consistent temperature changes or those that break acceptable thresholds. The MyWork software, he adds, would receive data, create a real-time alert and recommend best practice-based actions.

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