For grocery retailers that operate at scale, small improvements can have a big impact on the bottom line. One of the ways to boost that bottom line, according to Trax, is better shelf inventory management.
Based in Singapore, Trax uses a combination of shelf and ceiling cameras, along with computer vision, to give retailers and CPG companies a more accurate reading of what’s on store shelves.
Trax installs customized camera modules on store shelves to keep tabs on products. Trax also augments these shelf cameras with ceiling mounted cameras for monitoring fresh sections of stores. The cameras take a picture of the every hour, and those images are sent to the cloud, where they are analyzed to ensure that products are available, on the correct shelf and price compliant. Based on what the system reports back, store associates can be dispatched to address any issues.
I spoke with Mark Cook, Head of Retailer Solutions for Trax, by phone this week, and he told me that retailers using the Trax inventory management system have seen a 1 percent bump in sales by just ensuring that more product is in stock. One percent may not sound like a lot, but again, when multiplied across all the shelves in a store, and across all the stores in a chain, that small percentage can represent big money.
In addition to grocery retailers, Trax also counts CPG companies like Coca-Cola and Henkel as customers. CPG companies use Trax basically for auditing. With the system, they can monitor their shelf presence in stores and ensure they are getting what they are paying for in terms of promotion.
Trax has a SaaS business model where the hardware is provided and the customer pays a subscription fee for the analytics.
If Trax’s solution sounds familiar, that’s because other companies are taking similar approach to automating shelf management. Walmart is deploying Bossa Nova shelf-scanning robots to roam it store floors, and the mega-retailer also launched its IRL store this year, which uses banks of cameras to monitor store inventory in real-time.
Trigo is another company using cameras to help stores with inventory management, though Trigo is mostly focused on using computer vision to help create cashierless checkout systems for stores. I asked Cook if cashierless checkout was on Trax’s roadmap and he said the company is more focused now just on shelf management. “There’s money on the table with inventory.”
Founded in 2010, Trax is headquartered in Singapore and has roughly 800 employees. The company has CPG customers in 70 different countries. Cook wouldn’t disclose retail partners, but said it is working with retailers in the U.S., U.K. and Israel.