WHITE PAPER PAPER. Retail Store Automation Systems Management and the Role of the Bar Code Scanner. What Is Retail Store Automation Management?

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1 WHITE PAPER PAPER Retail Store Automation Systems Management and the Role of the Bar Code Scanner What Is Retail Store Automation Management? Remote Systems Management is the ability to manage and control the individual components, both hardware and software, of Retail Store Automation from a remote location. Retail store systems are ever increasing in complexity, and devices include Point-of- Sale (POS) systems (store controllers, POS terminals, printers, payment devices, displays, fixed and handheld bar code scanners), kiosks, scale systems self-checkout systems, the software that controls all these devices, and the networks that connect them. The real benefits of remote management increase with the complexity of the IT infrastructure of retail stores, provided there is a common means to access it all. Benefits to the retailer accrue with the ability to standardize and manage store systems and operational processes without intervention by untrained store personnel. The goal is, of course, reduced IT costs but also include increased performance and up-time of store level systems that maximize operational efficiency and increase the customers satisfaction with their shopping experience. The Benefits Managing retail store systems, especially remotely, is an excellent opportunity for retail chains to improve operational efficiencies. Cost reductions result from less labor resources required, especially of store personnel who are better directed to providing customer service. However, information collected from and data sent to store systems also help the retailer to increase systems availability and ensure peak performance. Benefit categories include: Event and Device Monitoring which includes Diagnostic and situational alerts that can include such things as component failures, out of paper, off-line POS system, off-line payment device, communications network issues and others. Retrieval of diagnostic information from individual devices allows the retailer to quickly identify failing or failed units and can speed their repair. An effective remote management system will not only provide the alert to headquarters personnel but can also recommend or take action like ing or paging key store personnel with the recommended corrective action.

2 Software and Configuration Management Software fixes and/or enhancements can be sent to store systems and scheduled for activation or loading at the appropriate time without store level personnel involvement. This allows a change to take place in each store enterprise-wide simultaneously. New software features can be cost effectively added to devices by reducing the implementation costs traditionally incurred by sending personnel to each store to enact changes. Operator and Device Performance Data Collection Operator productivity can be measured and results that fall outside of pre-determined norms can be addressed by additional training or other corrective measures which increases operational efficiency at the store. Data may also indicate other variables like poor quality bar code labels produced by out-of-spec consumer products suppliers or in-store printers that reduce overall checkout productivity and increase customer dissatisfaction. Asset and Process Management Serial number, firmware version and model number retrieval can help with asset management. By monitoring device age and usage, replacements can be directed to the locations most benefited. The ability to remotely monitor and enforce power-off policies reduces energy costs and may increase the device s life. Device usage data can allow the enterprise to balance workloads to increase the life of in-store equipment. For example, rather than opening the same subset of store checkouts every day if the store can balance usage it may increase the device s life. These are just some examples of benefit categories. The remote management system plays a crucial role in not only gathering and disseminating large amounts of data but serves its true role by analyzing the data and reporting only exception events. This exception reporting serves as a trip-wire that alerts enterprise management to events or conditions that require action to correct or improve. Information Provided By Bar Code Scanners The following is representative of the information fixed POS and handheld bar code scanners can provide. Not all scanners from all vendors have all the capabilities listed. Five value-added features are described: Host Download, Diagnostic Reporting, Productivity Reporting, Cashier Training, and EAS functionality. These features or subsets of these features are available on leading bar code scanners available today. Specific information on the capabilities of any given scanner is available from the scanner manufacturer. Host Download Host Download provides a means by which a POS terminal can update the scanner application firmware, the scanner configuration settings, or both. When updates are available, they are transmitted by POS terminal application software to the scanner. This process can be done using the customer s POS checkout application written to take advantage of OPOS driver capability, or by third party developed Remote Management software. Host Download is a valuable tool for ensuring that all scanners in a store system have the currently required configuration, and for easily upgrading that configuration if the store operations standard changes. Host Download also provides a convenient automated method to upgrade scanner firmware throughout a store when vendors release improvements and new features. PAGE - 2

3 Diagnostics Reporting A host POS system can interrogate the scanner for three basic types of diagnostic information. This interrogation can be initiated by the in-store POS systems or by extension from a remote location. Typical bar code scanners can provide the following three basic types of information: Bar code scanner Identification Bar code scanner Health Bar code scanner Performance Statistics Diagnostics Reporting is a valuable tool for verifying that every scanner in a store system has the expected firmware and configuration. It is also valuable for reporting the current health of each scanner to a storewide status monitoring system, thereby providing early warning of potential failures. Store management can use the information to schedule preventative or corrective maintenance. Scanner identification information available Scanner model number Scanner serial number Scanner main board serial number Scanner application revision level Scanner configuration file ID Internal scale information (if equipped with scale) Remote display version (if equipped with display) Smart EAS version (if equipped with EAS) Scanner interface type Scanner health information available Motor is working/failed Horizontal (or single) laser is working/failed Vertical laser is working/failed (if equipped with 2 lasers) Internal scale is working/failed (if equipped with scale) Scale requires calibration (if equipped with an integrated scale) Remote display is working/failed (if equipped with display) EAS system is working/failed (if equipped with EAS) EAS communications failed Camera is working/failed (if equipped with a camera/imager) Scanner performance statistics information available Scanner power on time in hours Motor on time in hours Laser on time in hours Number of labels scanned Scale zero attempts (if equipped with scale) Scale calibration attempts (if equipped with scale) Last scale calibration time Number of EAS labels deactivated (if equipped with EAS) Number of EAS manual deactivation button presses (if equipped with EAS) Productivity Reporting and Cashier Training Productivity Reporting Overview Productivity data consists of a per label measurement of the time and effort required by the scanner to successfully decode the label just read. By measuring this effort and comparing it to all labels read the scanner is capable of identifying difficult to read labels. When implemented for the retail store and for the enterprise this data is very valuable for two purposes: Label Quality and Scanner Performance. Label Quality The Productivity Index data identifies specific bar code labels that are consistently harder to read than others in the store. Store management can use this data to isolate poorly performing in-store printers, or to identify manufacturers who need to improve their label print quality. Scanner Performance The Productivity Index data identifies specific scanners in the store that are performing at a lower than normal level. Store management can use this information to schedule cleaning or preventative maintenance of specific scanners. PAGE - 3

4 Cashier Training Overview Cashier data from high performance bi-optic scanners identifies which scanner window (vertical or horizontal or both) was used to capture the data in the bar code just read. In a normal productive environment it is expected that the cashier will use both windows in normal operation approximately equally. Values that indicate a preference for one of the windows sometimes points to unnecessary orientation of items prior to scanning. This can lead to lower productivity and/or repetitive stress injuries. Additionally is a measure the dynamic weight of each product as it is scanned (if the scanner is equipped with an integrated scale). The ideal scanning method involves cashiers sliding items over the scanner without picking them up which can also result in lower productivity and/or repetitive stress injuries. This data can be used to identify poor habits of individual cashiers, such as a tendency to orient all products to the vertical window, or a habit of lifting all items across the scanner. These habits can result in excessive product orientation and lifting, which will both reduce cashier productivity and also possibly lead to repetitive stress injuries. Early identification of these poor habits can give store management the opportunity to provide needed corrective training. When collected for all lanes in a store, Cashier Training data has an added use of identifying scanners that may be performing poorly due to dirt or obstructions in one of the two scan windows. Cashier Training data can be gathered in either On-line Mode during normal customer transactions and later analyzed to understand the scanning habits of individual cashiers and to propose corrective training or Training Mode where the scanner is installed in a dedicated training environment with special training materials, and the data captured is used to provide immediate corrective feedback to the cashier. PAGE - 4

5 Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) Integration Some high performance scanners combine a bar code scanner/scale, EAS antenna, and EAS control electronics in an integrated system. This system provides a means of reading bar coded products while automatically deactivating EAS security tags. Beyond normal bar code data, the scanner may provide data to the management system related to EAS deactivation activity. This information can be used to identify missing EAS tags, unauthorized EAS tag deactivations, hard-to-deactivate tags, and manual deactivation attempts. Identification, health, and statistics related to the EAS subsystem are also provided via the diagnostic reporting of the scanner. EAS Coupled Mode EAS Coupled Mode is where the scanner will not allow the deactivation of a security tag without also having scanned the item s bar code. Scanners equipped with this mode may have the ability to report data that aids in the management of the EAS systems and how they are performing at the checkout. Bar code was read, and EAS tag sensed and deactivated but more than one deactivation attempt was required - This indicates that the tag may be defective or the tag may be located on the fringe of the deactivation volume. Bar code was read, and an attempt to deactivate a hard tag occurred - This indicates that all deactivation retries have been exhausted and a tag is still active. Bar code was read, and EAS tag sensed but not deactivated - Operator may be sweeping product too fast or location of tag hinders deactivation. Bar code was read, and EAS tag not sensed and not deactivated - This is the normal case of a bar code being read without an EAS tag on the package. EAS exception button was pressed, and EAS tag sensed and deactivated - The operator initiated a manual deactivation and was successful in deactivating the tag. EAS exception button was pressed, and an attempt to deactivate a hard tag occurred - This indicates that all deactivation retries have been exhausted and a tag is still active. EAS exception button was pressed, and EAS tag sensed but not deactivated - The operator initiated a manual deactivation but there was a problem deactivating the tag. Tag may be defective or located on the fringe of the deactivation volume. PAGE - 5

6 OPOS: What Is It And Why Should You Care OPOS for Retail POS consists of architecture for Win32- based POS device access. OPOS is currently supported by virtually all versions of Microsoft Windows. It also consists of a set of POS device interfaces sufficient to support a wide range of POS solutions. It provides a consistent interface to POS peripherals for use by application creators. OPOS was the first widelyadopted POS device standard to help integrate POS hardware into applications for the Windows family of operating systems. UPOS is the acronym for Unified Point of Service. Under the UPOS specification, the OPOS and JavaPOS implementation specs have been defined to provide flexible approaches for POS application developers. It is an architectural specification for application interfaces to point-of-service devices that are used in the retail environment. This standard, which has been in existence for several years, is both operating system independent and language neutral and defines: An architecture for application interface to retail devices. A set of retail device behaviors sufficient to support a range of POS solutions. Currently, 36 different point-of-service peripheral types are supported by the standard. The advantages are that OPOS/UPOS drivers provide access to data stored within scanners throughout the retail enterprise. This access and data is based on an industry standard that allows third-party Store Automation System Management developers to use this data within their applications. Some examples of these systems management solutions include: IBM Tivoli/Director IBM s Remote Management Agent (RMA) is their POS endpoint management agent and is tightly integrated into IBM Director. RMA runs on IBM POS hardware and allows for managing and monitoring in store servers, POS terminals and peripherals with the same headquarter management tool (which is IBM Director). Together they provide the ability to remotely track, monitor, upgrade, and configure the POS and its peripherals, including scales, printers, and scanners. It supports the UPOS interface for universal support of UPOS enabled devices. Wavelink Avalanche Avalanche is a device and network management solution that will run on any Microsoft Windows based system. In addition to its interface to POS systems and peripherals it has the ability to interface with mobile computers running Windows embedded operating systems and to manage wireless networks and access points, providing a central tool for managing network security and maintaining PCI compliance. Avalanche is scalable with versions available for site based management and enterprise wide management. Avalanche is also extendable, with modules available for added control and security that can be implemented as the user s needs change. Any Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) Tool WMI is a standard peripheral interface and included with the Microsoft Windows operating system. It allows scripting languages like VBScript or Windows PowerShell to manage Microsoft Windows personal computers and servers, both locally and remotely. These tools can also be used to write custom applications to access data from scanners and other peripherals through the OPOS interface protocol. Summary Retailers today need to be aware that the majority of devices being installed as part of Retail Store Automation projects have capabilities that allow them to provide information on performance, productivity, diagnostics, and are capable of being remotely managed. This data is, in many cases, not utilized fully or not utilized at all. Point-of-sale peripherals have become very intelligent and represent the point that is in closest contact with customers. It is important that these devices perform at full capacity, that their up-time is maximized, and that the retailer take advantage of the valuable information they can provide. Remote store automation management systems can aggregate and manage this information and provide the enterprise with the tools to increase operational efficiency, lower costs, and increase the customer s satisfaction with their shopping experience. PAGE - 6

7 PAGE - 7

8 Datalogic ADC, Inc. All rights reserved. Protected to the fullest extent under U.S. and international laws. Copying or altering of this document is prohibited without express written consent from Datalogic ADC, Inc. Datalogic and the Datalogic logo are registered trademarks of Datalogic S.p.A. in many countries, including the U.S. and the E.U. and the Datalogic Automatic Data Capture logo is a trademark of Datalogic S.p.A. All other brand and product names are trademarks of their respective owners. Cashier Training and Productivity Index Reporting are trademarks of Datalogic ADC, Inc. Reasonable measures were taken to ensure that the information provided is complete and accurate at the time of publication. Datalogic ADC is not responsible for errors of omission or inaccuracies, as material becomes dated shortly following publication. Product specifications are subject to change without notice. WP-RETAILSTOREAUTOMGT-EN REV B

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