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ShelfAlert: Motion Activated Shelf

Motion Activated Lighting

Theft-deterrent Solutions

As an Einstein employee immersed in retail, I’m familiar with a study conducted for the Coca-Cola Company Retail Research Council, which reported that on a typical afternoon, more than 8.2 percent of supermarket merchandise is not available for purchase to consumers. Fast-moving items account for the lion’s share of sales lost to out-of-stocks.  Even worse, consumers refuse to buy an alternative product 34 percent of the time, resulting in lost sales.

Recently, I experienced this firsthand. While I was coming home from work I stopped by the nearest supermarket to pick up a specific razor with four sensitive skin blades that I needed immediately for an upcoming business trip.

When I arrived at the “Health & Beauty” aisle, I found similar blades, but not the one my I needed. In fact, I discovered an empty space in the display where it should be. Looking around for several minutes, I sought a store assistant to help locate the blades, but couldn’t find any.

Finally, I found a store assistant who told me that the supermarket “must have that product,” but when he looked at the shelf he realized that that section was empty. This confused him because he had refilled the entire shelf earlier in the day and was sure that there were plenty of those blades available. He now suspected that a theft had wiped them out. Had there been an alert when all the blades had been taken off the shelf, it might have prevented the theft.

From the latest Global Retail Theft Barometer, we know that razors and liquid detergent are two of the most stolen items, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if they were the object of an organized retail crime (ORC) gang.

I asked if there were alternative products to the ones I was looking for, and the sales assistant offered me another type of razor blade, which I agreed to purchase.  I wanted to buy three packages (to have a small stock) and discovered to my frustration that there were only two left. I walked out of the store, they lost a sale and I became a former customer.

Image by Mick Haupt

Impact of Out of Stocks


The magnitude of out-of-stock problems is undeniable. The negative impact includes the following:

  • Consumers postpone purchases, sometimes forever, or take their business elsewhere.

  • Retailers lose 46 percent of sales dollars on items that are out-of-stock.

  • Consumers are frustrated because of missing products and the lack of information from store personnel

An Intelligent Solution

The good news is that an Einstein solution like ShelfAlert can provide retailers with real-time access to actionable data and alerts that can help deter theft, optimize inventory, improve on-shelf availability and increase sales.

ShelfAlert wasn’t available at the supermarket for me that day. But like many consumers, I can assure you that I’ll seek out retailers that offer a better customer experience and merchandise availability. That growing consumer sentiment should make retailers take notice.

Woman Shopping for Groceries
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