Upcoming ECR Working Group Meetings Through to December 2022

by Colin Peacock

About ECR Meetings

Any retailer, CPG or academic is invited to participate in any of the working group meetings participate, at no cost. Each session will start with a retailer case study or new research study, the group will then discuss the learning points. Be ready to contribute to the discussion.

Sept 29th - Selling Impulse Items at SCO

Traditional checkouts created a huge opportunity to sell shoppers, while they were waiting to be served, those items that the retailer knew you might have forgotten, or would simply buy if they saw it on display, chewing gum, chocolate, magazines, razors, batteries, financial services, etc. The sales of these items could represent up to 20% for some retailers, while for others such as grocery, the sales might be circa 3-5% of total sales, but often higher margin with interested vendors willing to invest behind to secure additional shelf space.

The emergence of self checkout, in all its forms, as the dominant method of payment for many retailers, especially grocery, has lead to a change in how shoppers behave and act at the self-checkout. Often there is no queue, and once they arrive at the POS terminal, they are immediately into "doing work" mode, either picking up, scanning items and then paying, or with Scan & Go, docking the terminal and offering payment. With mobile Scan & Go, there is arguably no checkout, you just walk out!

Given this change in context, many retailers are experimenting with different approaches to selling impulse items. In this working group meeting, we will hear from retailers and their latest thinking on how to sell impulse items in a mainly self-checkout retail context.


Sept 29th - Use of Hard Tags in Retail

For decades, retailers have leveraged the EAS hard tag as a visual deterrent to theft, no more so than in fashion retail, and their experiments to use a soft EAS tag has highlighted further the value of a visible deterrent. Click to read the ECR research on hard Vs soft tags.

However, since that research, and especially in fashion retailing, there has been widespread adoption of RFID, now delivering unprecedented levels of new intelligence on inventory variances, by item, by hour, etc to help guide loss prevention efforts. Further, shoppers are seeking a faster and simpler shopping experience, with fewer points of friction.

Hard tags represent represent friction, for the shopper and store colleague, and some retailers in the working group are looking at whether to remove the hard tags to enable a more frictionless shopper journey, including self checkout, and then leverage RFID intelligence to manage loss prevention.

In this working group meeting, with a kick off presentation from RIver Island, retailers will share their latest thinking on the use of hard tags, their test design to measure the impact of removing hard tags and how RFID intelligence can support and inform loss prevention.


Oct 18th - Video: Building the Case for Change

For many retailers, the biggest investment in video systems happened nearly 20 years ago, when systems were analogue, and monitoring and recording was primarily undertaken on site: a ‘cloud’ was just a big puffy thing in the sky. For many video capability leaders, the challenge now is about how they upgrade to new technologies, take advantage of networking, consider video analytics, mitigate against a cyber-attack and figure out the role of Cloud computing and storage.

In this session, two retailers will share how they have tackled this transformation: how they learnt from others, recruited a project team, assessed their current and future needs, put together their vision, and five-year plan, and most importantly, persuaded the business to invest.


Oct 19th - Markdowns - Innovations in Practice

In this working group meeting we will hear from Metro, and how they went about implementing expiry date pricing in their business, and the results they have been able to achieve. We will also get an update from ICA, and get an update on the shopper adoption of their self-scan solution for markdowns, where the customers are encouraged to print their own markdown stickers for goods close to their expiry date (see video)


Oct 20th: Food Waste: Waste Less with Smart Refrigeration

In an ECR Retail Loss Group benchmark study, retailers attributed 14% of their total food waste to refrigeration breakdowns and products going out of temperature range. In this session, we will explore approaches retailers are adopting to address this cause of food waste through remotely monitored, networked refrigeration systems that not only reduce food waste but also deliver improved compliance, better productivity and lessen the impact of the refrigeration system on the environment, less energy used, etc.

To start the meeting, Joe from Festival Foods, a USA grocery multiple, will share his journey towards smarter refrigeration, the lessons learnt and what they see coming over the horizon in terms of new technology and developments.


Oct 20th - Food Waste 10X20X30 Updates

A year on, the working group will hear updates on how organisations signed up to the 10 (Retailers) X 20 (Engage their Top 20 supplier partners) X30 (to halve food waste by 2030) initiative have progressed their plans, and the results that collaboration is delivering.

The working group will reflect and discuss learnings, and applicability for faster and more scaled deployments of the ideas and concepts that are delivering the greatest benefits.


Nov 15th - Future of Video - View from the Top

In this working group meeting, we will get updates from the founders of Axis and Genetec, on the state of video in retail, and where the technology is headed. The facilitated discussion will address the below questions and more;

  • What have been the top three most recent (last 12 months) examples of how current video technology capabilities have transformed retail?
  • What do they believe are the key reasons that are holding retailers back from fully leveraging video possibilities?
  • Looking ahead, what are the future technology changes that can deliver further transformation, LIDAR, 5G, Cloud, Edge analytics, etc.

The working group members will also be encouraged to ask their questions to these leaders


Nov 15th: Incident Reporting in the Digital Age

When a serious incident occurs in retail, the reporting is robust and the data reliable, however for the many incidents that are less serious, such as theft, verbal abuse, push outs and others, the reporting data is weak. In part, because the process of reporting an incident is hard work, takes time and for some store associates, the motivation to report an incident that could take over an hour to complete, not knowing whether the data will ever be used, can be rock bottom.

However, some retailers have been exploring new ways that they can better leverage new digital and video technologies, including video analytics, to transform their reporting, that in turn can improve the level of collaboration with law enforcement, to the extent that the store associates can see directly how their reporting is leading to an improved outcome for them, their colleagues and shoppers.

In this session, we will hear from retailers who have embarked on this journey, and learn from them, their key learnings and the outcomes being delivered


Nov 23rd - Self Checkout Supervisor Survey Results

In this working group meeting, we will hear insights from a new global study on the "voice of the Self Checkout host" where the research lead, Professor Adrian Beck, will share aggregated findings from a survey of SCO hosts in multiple geographies, and how they feel about their role, how effective they believe they are at reducing losses, how they believe the technology is enabling them to be better at their job, the key challenges of the role, their satisfaction in the role, and more.

The group will then discuss the findings, and how as leaders they could act to further strengthen the role SCO hosts can play in reducing wrong scans, detecting non-scans and preventing walkaways.


Nov 30th - Food Waste Innovation Challenge

Finding new ways to prevent food from being thrown away is a priority for retailers around the world. In September, ECR will publish a list of the Top 30 Food Waste Innovations, in this session, we will hear from ten of the Top 30, with each innovator delivering a five minute pitch, to be followed up by a five minute Q&A. Retailers and producers will be encouraged to complete a survey form after each innovation, stating their intention for any next steps or not!


Dec 6th - Using Age Verification AI at Self Checkouts

Age restricted items, such as knives and alcohol, in certain countries and retailers, can trigger up to 15% of the interventions that need to be made the self checkouts. These interventions frustrate and slow down the [obviously] over 25 customers, while creating the opportunity for challenge with other customers.

In this working group session, the group will turn its attention to the use of age verification video technologies at SCO, with insights from retailers actively pursuing a scaled deployment in pursuit of colleague safety, productivity and customer satisfaction (fewer interventions)


Dec 7th - Product [RF] ID Working Group Meeting

In this working group session, we will explore the "new" and progress being made by each of the working group participants on their new use cases for RFID in their business.


Dec 7th - Self Checkout in Non Grocery

Increasingly, and in response to the consumer demand for a more frictionless shopper journey, retailers beyond grocery are adopting self checkouts, including fashion, drug, home improvement, discount, convenience, electrical and automotive retailers. In this working group discussion we will hear updates from the working group participants on their trials, lessons learnt and pathways to the future.


Dec 8th - Inventory Record Accuracy Research - Four Years on...

Inventory records are wrong! We know this because we can see it every day in stores, and when we look at often the #1 reason why a shelf is empty. We can also read about inventory record accuracy in the ECR research study (click here) that quantified the problem of inaccuracy, in this research, 60% were found to be wrong. However, what this research did for the first time, was to prove the impact of correcting those records on sales, with their unique test Vs control store design, proving that a 4-8% sales lift was possible when inventory records went from “wrong” to “right”! As was expected, the items where the inventory records were negative (less physically available than the records suggested) showed the greatest sales lift, with on average a 10% lift. However, and intriguingly, those items with positive variances also showed an uplift of 8%, suggesting an opportunity in how the backroom is organised in a way that makes it easier and faster to find the products.

In this working group session, we will explore as a group how retailers in the group have used this report to change internal mindsets, or perhaps they have repeated the experiment to get their own data, or used the report to support the business case for more counting and/or defend the counting budget from cuts.