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Fashion brand increases both security and footfall with new security technology in time for store opening, and plans to extend roll out

Yorkshire-based fashion brand Republic has selected its Wakefield store to trial customer footfall monitoring technology integrated with a new ‘invisible’ security system installation.

The shop format and trial will also provide the model for the new Republic showcase store at Stratford City, London to accommodate the expected crowds ahead of the Olympic Games next year.

The Wakefield store, which opened in May in the new Trinity Walk, offers an unobstructed entrance combining increased customer flow and maximum visual focus on product rather than being obscured by security pedestals, according to Republic’s head of profit protection, Paul Burlace.

“It is the first RF [radio-frequency] system to be almost invisible while at the same time offering us greater cost savings and the ability to increase our tag zone at the front of the store. In addition, we now have increased tagging options such as soft tags on low risk merchandise,” he said.

Removing barriers to entrance

To the naked eye shoppers see what appears to be a wider entrance than any other Republic store, but this is simply because the six-metre doorway is now unobstructed by security pedestals, with the exception of one clear ‘placebo’ surface Perspex pedestal that simply serves as a deterrent or reminder to less honest customers that security is in place.

The real working Cobra antenna – so named because, like the snake, they lie hidden and strike when threatened or hunting for prey – are under the floor.

The RF Cobra System is the product of two years development work with the TAG Company. The covert antenna that are 1.8 metres apart, builds and improves upon best of Republic’s older, 66kHz loop or ‘dual dapa’ system, which is used by a number of TAG apparel retail customers.

Burlace continued: “Although from an appearance point of view, the loop was great, it had significant limitations and reduced our ability to protect products at the front of the store. From a loss prevention perspective, the dual dapa system over came this with the inclusion of pedestals in the entrance, but this had a visual impact on the store entrance.

“Also, 66kHz technology is limited by more expensive and larger hard tags when compared to RF which therefore limits the type of product you can protect.”

Overcoming physical issues

He added: “The laws of physics mean that it doesn’t allow for a ‘loop’ equivalent in RF technology as the field generated by 8.2MHz falls away too quickly from its source. However, working with TAG we have been able to achieve an invisible RF system for Republic by designing and making bespoke antenna beneath the floor of the shop front, which is already generating great results for us in Wakefield and will provide the blue print for all our new store roll outs because it combines the right balance of greater customer experience and footfall with the ability to protect our merchandise more effectively,” he adds.

Jon Marchese, chief executive of The TAG Company, commented: “This was a good example of collaboration with a retailer. It took the best part of two years to develop but it is the fruit of listening and learning from both sides.”

“Cobra is far from simply laying RF pedestals in the ground, and each array will be optimised for the entrance. We’ve also taken great care about ensuring the system can be serviced, and so access to circuit boards has been considered.”

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