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Kroger initiative digitizes stores

Kroger has unveiled a bold initiative to digitize every aspect of its physical store in an effort to measure a breadth of operational metrics to enhance the shopper experience.

The company announced a partnership with eInfochips, Wincor Nixdorf and several other partners on a new enterprise IT architecture called Retail Site Intelligence. This architecture for stores of the 21st century uses ZigBee wireless mesh networks to integrate long battery life sensors, hand held devices, point-of-sale devices and video management software into a next generation platform for retail applications such as in stock optimization, loss prevention, store automation and video analytics which can be integrated with Kroger’s industry leading loyalty program data.

"Retail Site Intelligence is, above all, about customer 1st innovation," said Kroger CIO Chris Hjelm. "We are leveraging technology to help customers have the best possible shopping experience in retail stores, whether by more easily finding the products they want or saving time at checkout. We expect Retail Site Intelligence to be the cornerstone of the technology infrastructure for Kroger stores in the future."

The introduction of the RSI architecture, and the deployment of new retail business solutions by Kroger, culminates two years of global collaboration between Kroger and eInfochips to develop the underlying technology products for the company’s Stores of the 21st century initiative. The results of the most recent phase of development are new wireless devices such as cameras, scanners and scales that feature ZigBee wireless technology and a proprietary video management software system called Vigil360.

Commercial versions of the RSI solutions being rolled out by Kroger will be available later in 2014 with support and customization services delivered globally.

"Most IT products are developed by design teams insulated from the user and application," said Frank Berry, founder and senior analyst with IT Brand Pulse. "Kroger's hands-on involvement in the development process has yielded products that are innovative and tailor made for digitized store environments."

Parag Mehta, chief marketing officer at eInfochips noted, "Our collaboration with Kroger to develop products for their Retail Site Intelligence Initiative embodies the trend of businesses partnering with technology companies to develop intellectual property for a sustainable competitive edge. The results of the Retail Site Intelligence project demonstrate why this trend is gaining momentum."