Spar News

Merchandising Firm Launches RFID Pilot Study - Interview with Kori Belzer by ESCA, May 8, 2007

At the upcoming Entertainment Supply Chain Academy in Los Angeles, June 27-28, SPAR, Inc. Chief Operating Officer Kori Belzer, will present updates on the merchandising company's RFID DVD pilot study at major mass merchandisers.

SPAR is a leading in-store merchandising company with field offices in over eleven countries and a multi-billion dollar global client roster, including work for leading retailers including K-Mart and Circuit City. With over 4,500 merchandising specialists in the U.S. alone, making millions of store visits a year, Belzer explains, "we're the eyes, ears, arms and legs of the manufacturer, responsible for implementing programs on their behalf at store level. We insure that products are in the right locations at the right times"

Belzer emphasizes that this is especially critical with DVD, a specific area with which they work directly with the studios while having partnerships with the retailers; they are a category service organization for DVD in Circuit City, for example.

The forty-year old company began its merchandising services division in 1987 and currently works across all classes of trade, drug, grocery, mass and specialty outlets, providing expertise in the electronics area, while handling all other hard lines and consumer packaged goods.

"With DVD new release street date timing is critical. We ensure the planogram integrity, that pricing is set, we manage the supply, we identify out of stocks, we process returns, we do inventory counts, we do everything that is necessary that assure maximum sell-through," Belzer explains.

This especially applies to DVD promotions, which Belzer feels can benefit greatly from RFID technology, which is one of the subjects of the current SPAR pilot study; corrugate displays are being manually tagged and then tracked once they leave the back room and make their way onto the selling floor; SPAR's software provides data of how long the display is up and where it has been placed, and whether or not it stays there. Customers can view online a so-called Execution Map and watch store locations turn from red dots to green nationwide on their computer screens as the promotions hit the store floors. SPAR is a solution partner for EPCglobal US, the industry association responsible for driving the global, multi-industry adoption and implementation of RFID technology.

The RFID program, which began in the fourth quarter of 2006, is part of an expansive investment in item-level radio tagging by SPAR, which includes the development of a suite of Internet-based, real-time reporting software that involves handheld readers as well as fixture tracking. Merchandising staffers wear badges that are individually tagged with RFID to provide remote monitoring of their in-store movements.

"RFID is vital for retail because the biggest issue and biggest cost for them is finding good labor," Belzer says. "Retailers have tremendous turnover. Their first focus is the customer and helping them. Tracking promotions and managing products at the store level are our main focus and RFID technology helps puts us ahead of the game. We are taking this next step and making this investment to help our manufacturers and retail customers."

About SPAR Group

>SPAR Group, Inc., a diversified international marketing services company, provides a broad array of services to help manufacturers and retailers improve their sales, operating efficiency and profits at retail worldwide. Services include in-store merchandising and event staffing, RFID and other technology andresearch, covering all product classifications and all classes of trade, including mass market, drug store, electronic store, convenience store and grocery chains. The company operates throughout the United States and internationally in Japan, Canada, Turkey, South Africa, India, Romania, China, Lithuania, Australia, Latvia and New Zealand. For more information, visit SPAR Group's Web site,