IoT M2M blog

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How to track a shopping trolley in supermarket?

Objective: to log the movements of a customer through a retail space, for example for market research

Shopping trolley tracking at supermarket

Shopping trolley tracking at supermarket

The space is populated fixed radio beacons (2.4 GHz ISM Band), each of which periodically transmits signals which uniquely identify the particular beacon. The radio signal is limited in strength and can only be received within a defined area around the beacon.

Fixed radio beacons are distributed according to the store plan, for example in a grocery:

  • Beacon ID001-003 at dairy products
  • ID0004-0007 at cheese counter
  • ID0008-0011 at meat department
  • ID0012-0018 in wine and spirits
  • ID0019 at a promotional end-cap
  • Etc.

The customer or test shopper carries a wireless data logger configured as a portable beacon, for example in the form of a key fob, and walks through the store to shop. While passing by the various shelves and products, or lingering in front of a shelf to search for a product of interest and make a buying decision, the mobile data logger registers all the locations passed together with the amount of time spent in an area. A series of records is thus generated within the mobile beacon, showing when the shopper approaches a fixed radio beacon, and when she leaves.

On arriving at the checkout the full log of all locations and times spent can be downloaded from the wireless data logger, to be stored in time order on a data base.

All tracks of all trips are maintained on the data base and can be accessed for further processing and reporting, by means of SQL queries. Administration functions on the database include registering new beacons at the shelves.

System Elements of the shopping trolley tracking solution

The system can be configured to include an unlimited number of Fixed Radio Beacons, and an un-limited number of Mobile Beacons. Because the mobile radio beacon device is compact, it can be included unobtrusively in shopping trolleys or shopper PDAs.

The system is anchored to the store’s infrastructure using a radio link gateway, typically placed at or near the checkout. The gateway collects the logs from each Mobile Beacon at the end of their journey through the store, dumps them to the MySQL Database on a store server and clears the mobile tags for re-use.

An optional Web or Cloud Interface to the store server allows remote administration and reporting.

Shopping trolley tracking block diagram

Tracking of trolley in supermarket

Tracking of trolley in supermarket

Available Elements for the shopping trolley tracking at supermarket

  • The radio beacons are available in both Fixed and Mobile versions
  • Radio Link Gateway for connection to Store Infrastructure
  • Database License, Server Hardware, Web and Cloud Interface Connectors all TBA (Pilot trials are run on a local PC)

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