RealTime IT News

Infosys Wants to Make the Store a Web Page

NEW YORK--So much goes on inside a store that marketers don't know about. Sure, they know what products people purchase, but the physical retail environment just doesn't lend itself to measurable information about how much time people spend looking at a display, what products they considered buying but didn't, or which ones they simply ignored.

On the Web of course, that information is considerably easier to track.

Enter Infosys (NASDAQ: INFY), an India-based IT services and consulting firm hoping to provide a pipeline that will deliver highly nuanced information about shopper behavior to retailers and consumer-packaged goods (CPG) companies.

Today Infosys plans to unveil ShoppingTrip 360, a system of wireless sensors that retailers place throughout their stores to monitor things like traffic flow and report on shoppers' interests. Infosys' immodest goal is to generate the same quantifiable insights that are inherent in e-commerce from brick-and-mortar retailers.

"We have attempted to make the store Web-like," Sandeep Dadlani, Infosys' global head of sales, marketing and innovation, told InternetNews.com. "By making the store aware, we are creating the Internet for the physical world."

Infosys has long partnered with retailers and CPG companies to improve supply chain management and other logistical operations, dabbling in technologies such as RFID. But RFID tags do a better job of tracking merchandise than tracking people, and the latter is what marketers are keen to know more about.

"For the first time they've challenged us to look at what happens inside the store," Dadlani said.

For an offline retail environment to become "aware," Infosys will dispatch a technical team to place wireless sensors throughout the store -- on shelves, end-caps, displays, shopping carts, etc.

A heat map of shopper traffic

Once the network is in place, ShoppingTrip 360 delivers retailers and CPG companies reporting about what's going on inside the store, such as a heat map of shopper traffic.

No sensors are embedded in the products themselves, but since they are placed on the shelves, the system can report when the stock is getting low and even relay alerts about "frontage" -- how much of the product is sitting forward on the shelf where it is more likely to be seen by shoppers.

Infosys will install ShoppingTrip 360 for free, and charge a fee for hosting the service and providing the reporting. Dadlani said there will be multiple subscription options to provide reporting with varying levels of detail.

The benefits to retailers and CPG companies seem plain enough. The sensors provide on-shelf inventory alerts, and stores can use the traffic maps to manage lighting and energy costs. Product makers can glean insights into which displays are drawing attention and which ones are duds.

But there's a consumer tie-in as well. The release of ShoppingTrip 360 includes a mobile application consumers can install by texting a short code to Infosys.

Next page: An in-store concierge