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HIGH TECH SHOPPING TO CUT QUEUES AND PRICES

  • 12 August, 2003 15:57

<p>Fujitsu’s U-Scan and Queue Buster lead the way towards a new era of retailing</p>
<p>Sydney, 12 August, 2003…..Long shopping queues could soon be a thing of the past as supermarkets and retail stores install time-saving technologies that will dramatically improve the retail experience for customers.</p>
<p>U-ScanÒ and Queue Buster are just two of the hot products on display at the Retail Business Technology 2003 show, at the Sydney Convention &amp; Exhibition Centre from 12-14 August.</p>
<p>Shopping will never be the same as retailers look for ways to make life easier for today’s increasingly time-challenged consumers. Retail stores of tomorrow will have shorter checkout queues, increasing self-service and more staff on hand to help customers – thanks to smart new retail systems from Fujitsu.</p>
<p>Impressive Australian-developed technology could see product prices electronically displayed on shelves, with on-the-spot discounts beamed down at the speed of light from futuristic fluorescent lamps.</p>
<p>Another Fujitsu innovation sees artificial intelligence used to combat shoplifting and fraud, which cost retailers millions of dollars in lost revenue – a cost that’s ultimately passed on to the end customer in the form of higher prices.</p>
<p>“These new technologies will change the way we shop as radically as ATMs changed banking and self-service petrol stations changed the way people fill the tank,” says Marcus May, General Manager Retail, at Fujitsu Australia.</p>
<p>U-Scan self-service system frees up checkout staff</p>
<p>Just as motorists now take pumping their own petrol for granted, supermarkets are seeing the value of self-service solutions that can increase customer satisfaction. Shoppers will be able be able to get out of the store more quickly and retailers can free staff from repetitive checkout scanning to help customers on the shopfloor.</p>
<p>The latest in rapid retail checkouts is U-Scan, a self-service checkout system from Fujitsu that is about to be trialled in Australian supermarkets. Instead of requiring shop staff to manually handle and scan goods, U-ScanÒ allows shoppers to scan goods themselves at a special station. Customers then pay their bill using cash, EFTPOS or credit card.</p>
<p>U-Scan has user-friendly display screen as well as voice prompts to guide customers through the checkout process. It even allows cash-back withdrawals if an EFTPOS card is used for payment.</p>
<p>Self-scanning is already catching on overseas, particularly in the United States. A key factor in its success is that U-Scan lets customers scan goods at their own pace and check every price as they go. It enables stores to add more self-service checkouts without extra staff costs. And the system is smart.</p>
<p>“U-Scan is clever enough to ‘learn’ about new products, sizes, weights and packaging, which makes cheating the system very difficult,” says May. “There is also a video camera built in so a central operator can oversee multiple U-Scan stations.”</p>
<p>A compact U-Scan booth will be on display at Retail Business Technology 2003.</p>
<p>Queue Buster cuts checkout waiting times</p>
<p>The other show-stealer at RBT2003 is Queue Buster, a hand-held checkout scanner designed to slash supermarket waiting times by recording purchases before you reach the cash register.</p>
<p>“Queue Buster is a truly amazing piece of equipment. A shop assistant can walk down a long queue and start to scan the goods right there in the customer’s trolley,” explains May. “When the customer reaches the checkout, their purchases are already accounted for – all they have to do is pay and go.”</p>
<p>Queue Buster works as a cordless extension of the store’s existing sales systems. This makes it easy for shops to install while guaranteeing Queue Buster is every bit as accurate as traditional checkout scanning.</p>
<p>Its versatile design means Queue Buster can also be used for special sales promotions in and around the store. For example, a shop could set up a dedicated Easter egg stand outside the store to fast-track purchases at what is one of the busiest times of the year.</p>
<p>“Fujitsu expects to see several thousand of these hand-held mini-computer devices in Australian retail outlets within the next 18 months,” adds May. “With Queue Buster, retail queue relief is at hand.”</p>
<p>The price is light with Electronic Shelf Label</p>
<p>Another intriguing new technology on display at RBT2003 is Fujitsu’s revolutionary Electronic Shelf Label system. This futuristic innovation, developed by ILID in Australia, uses in-store fluorescent lights as a radical way to update product prices.</p>
<p>The Electronic Shelf Label system replaces traditional paper-based price displays with electronic screens showing the latest pricing information and specials. Not only does this improve the accuracy of pricing for customers, it allows stores to conduct short-term ‘red light specials’ automatically.</p>
<p>Clever engineering allows the Electronic Shelf Label to transmit data through the light output from a store’s fluorescent tubes. A special modulating device in the light fitting transmits the latest price information from the store’s central computer, allowing pricing information to be distributed instantly.</p>
<p>Using light for data transmission also means very low power consumption. This enables long battery life in the LCD label itself, and consequent low running costs.</p>
<p>“Electronic Shelf Labels will revolutionise pricing for retail outlets and supermarket shelves,” May says. “With 10 to 20-year battery life and affordable pricing from Fujitsu, I’m confident we can expect to see these labels everywhere.”</p>
<p>Smart analysis cuts the cost of fraud</p>
<p>Fujitsu will also unveil Loss Prevention, a software package to help retailers cut shoplifting and fraud costs. Losses due to such ‘shrinkage’ can knock up to 10 per cent of annual turnover for larger retail stores.</p>
<p>“As the cost of shoplifting and fraud is ultimately passed on to the end consumer, technology to reduce these overheads can have direct benefits for customers through cheaper prices,” says May.</p>
<p>Loss Prevention links to existing systems for checkout reconciliation, sales monitoring, stock control and even operator surveillance cameras. It uses detailed analytical techniques to identify and report anomalies or unusual activity in stock, takings, operator activity, product lines, supplier or invoicing transactions.</p>
<p>“Margins are razor thin in retail so any losses go straight through to the end consumer,” May comments. “With Loss Prevention, Fujitsu is helping Australia’s retailers fight back by making it easier to identify and manage shrinkage.”</p>
<p>Notes to Editors</p>
<p>Fujitsu Australia Limited</p>
<p>Fujitsu is a global leader in information and communications technology solutions. Throughout Australia and New Zealand Fujitsu is recognised as a leading systems integrator and services provider, and a market leader in the supply of retail solutions. We deliver complex infrastructure systems and services, and business and telecommunications solutions, as well as offering access to a wide network of partners. From the desktop to the data centre; multi-vendor procurement to prime contracting; consulting to systems integration, Fujitsu has earned a reputation as the single supplier of choice for leading Australian retail organisations. Visit au.fujitsu.com for further information</p>
<p>Fujitsu Australia Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of Fujitsu Limited of Japan.</p>
<p>About Fujitsu Limited
Fujitsu is a leading provider of customer-focused IT and communications solutions for the global marketplace. Pace-setting technologies, highly reliable computing and telecommunications platforms, and a worldwide corps of systems and services experts uniquely position Fujitsu to deliver comprehensive solutions that open up infinite possibilities for its customers’ success. Headquartered in Tokyo, Fujitsu Limited (TSE:6702) reported consolidated revenues of 4.6 trillion yen (US$38 billion) for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2003. For more information, please see www.fujitsu.com.</p>
<p>Optimal Robotics Corp.
Optimal Robotics Corp. is the leading provider of self-checkout systems to retailers in North America. The Company's principal product is the U-Scan automated self-checkout system, which enables shoppers to scan, bag and pay for their purchases with limited or no assistance from store personnel. The U-Scan system, which Optimal believes will process over 500 million shopper transactions in 2002, is designed to reduce retailer checkout costs and increase shoppers' convenience.</p>
<p>About ILID Pty Ltd (www.ilid.com.au)
ILID (pronounced “eyelid”) designs and manufactures Electronic Shelf Labels (ESL) for the Retail and Warehouse industries. ILID display modules are placed on the edges of store shelves to show a product's price, along with other information. The ILID System is unique, as it uses a globally patented system, modulating existing fluorescent light to transmit data to ILID labels, ensuring the ILID labels match the information in the store's cash registers. The primary advantage of communicating via light is the lack of interference – a significant issue with the congested, regulated RF (Radio Frequency) technologies and troublesome IR (Infrared) line-of-sight technologies. The ILID approach makes ESL technology a business reality through reduced infrastructure cost, reduced label cost, and extended battery life.</p>
<p>ILID Pty Ltd is a wholly-owned subsidiary of UXC (www.uxc.com.au, ASX:UXC), and is Australian owned and operated, situated in Melbourne, Australia.</p>
<p>For further media release information contact:</p>
<p>Gillian Lamrock
Fujitsu Australia Limited
Tel 02 9776 4799
Mobile 0411 267 043
Email: gillian.lamrock@fujitsu.com.au</p>

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