rapitag is the world’s leading technology provider for secure and mobile self-checkout and enables unique customer experiences in all retail stores.
With its intelligent anti-theft devices, rapitag also offers the possibility of digitizing local stores, thus delivering a decisive step forward in the history of stationary retail.
o2 is a mobile network operator and is part majority owned by the Spanish multinational telecommunications provider Telefónica S.A.
Telefónica Germany offers, among other things, mobile and fixed network services for private and business customers as well as innovative digital products and services in the areas of Internet of Things and data analysis. Telefónica manages more than 43.5 million lines in its mobile communication divisions.
Telefónica Germany will become the “Mobile Customer & Digital Champion” – with this claim, the company aims to become the preferred partner of customers in the German mobile communications market by 2022. This is associated with a clear mission: Telefónica Germany makes its customers’ lives easier and better and gives them mobile freedom in the digital world. In concrete terms, this means a thoroughly positive experience in terms of brand, products, customer service, and network. The company already has excellent conditions for this today. No other network operator in Germany connects more people in mobile communications. Following the integration of E-Plus, the company is digitizing its business and focusing on customer benefit.
With digital products and services, the telecommunications company also contributes to mastering social challenges such as sustainable mobility. Furthermore, it is important to Telefónica Germany that people retain control over their data and can shape their digital lives with confidence.
The initial situation and goals
o2 planned to modernize its stores throughout Germany and expanded its retail approach to new product categories to generate new revenue potential.
As a result, new product categories were introduced in the area of consumer electronics, which thematically matched the mobile phone business and which then had to be protected against theft.
An appropriate theft protection system had to be found for the new product categories, whereby a classic EAS (Electronic Article Surveillance) system with extensice antennas in the exit area was being avoided due to the small floor space of the stores.
Besides, the aim was to find a solution to make the process of product localization and inventory management inside the store more efficient.
o2 therefore, intended to implement rapitag GmbH’s IoT solution in the area of “Asset Tracking / Theft Alerting” using “Bluetooth Low Energy” (BLE). In order to enable o2 to test that this solution was working properly in its premises even before its introduction, rapitag was commissioned to carry out a pilot store (Proof of Concept / “PoC”) in August 2019.
The aim was to implement a reliable anti-theft system without resorting to the already established EAS methods, as they need too much space within the store. Furthermore, it should not be possible to outwit the anti-theft devices with simple tools such as commercially available magnets. That is a significant deficiency of established systems, especially when it comes to the field of organized crime and professional shoplifters.
The use of rapitag’s intelligent anti-theft security systems was intended to protect the newly introduced product group of consumer electronics against theft.
Purposely, rapitag used hardware that has already been proven in other shops and which get attached to the products by the employee like conventional EAS security systems.
Depending on the product, the appearance and shape of rapitag’s security devices vary. In the case of o2, “spider tags” in two sizes were used to secure products against theft and unauthorized opening inside the store.
In order to ensure the constant localization and monitoring of the products, WiFi access points were installed on the ceiling, which kept the real-time location of the fuse in the shop constantly up-to-date. The real-time data of the location is monitored via the connection between intelligent anti-theft devices and WiFi access points which was based on BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) technology.
Furthermore, access points were used to define a virtual security zone. This ran across the entire store area and ended at the exit. If a product protected by rapitag left the security zone or the store area, this was detected and the system triggered an audio-visual alarm.
The tracking, opening, and removal of rapitag’s security devices were easily done and controlled by an employee using a mobile application on the shop smartphone.
By using rapitag’s innovative security systems, which could be located and monitored in real-time based on BLE, the products in the store were sufficiently protected so that no theft occurred during the 6-months test phase.
Employees were able to operate the security systems via a special o2 app – i.e., to open, remove, and localize the security systems. Additionally, rapitag was not only able to offer a solution for theft protection, also the simple as well as fast control and localization of the anti-theft tags via the app provided process optimization and efficiency in daily business operations.
The integration of the solution was easy as well as uncomplicated and enabled o2 to develop a new interior design without restrictions, as the so-called alarm zones of the security systems could be freely defined, and therefore, no compromises relating the security system needed to be done.
In the next steps, the use of BLE technology would also enable introducing a mobile self-checkout by the customer. Especially the COVID19 pandemic that occurred in spring 2020 demands contactless payment options that reduce the risk of infection for customers as well as for employees to a minimum.