RTLS in Retail – Why It’s the Need of the Hour

Date: July 16, 2019

Author: Ipshita Biswas

RTLS has always been a necessity in hospitals, where every second and every piece of equipment is critical. The density of expensive and highly demanded equipment is common, as is their need to be found on time. Beyond equipment finding, RTLS finds its use in the entire workflow in a hospital.

The necessity of an RTLS is not just limited to healthcare. Retail, too, is gradually finding the need to embrace real-time tracking systems in their stores. Understanding customer behaviour, especially for the in-store experience, is at the forefront of this need. Already, most top retail distributors are putting in strong efforts to enhance the customer experience by providing personalised and unique interfacing both for in-store and online customers. In-store surveillance solutions with inbuilt intelligence and automation abilities comes out as an answer to this.

“IoT in the retail market has been estimated to grow at a CAGR of 20% from $14.2 Billion a year in 2015 to $35.6 Billion in 2020 (source: Markets and Markets)”

We provide ready-to-use RTLS reference solutions and build custom positioning solutions as per your requirements. Our RTLS reference solution is built on Decawave’s DW1000, which is based on highly precise UWB technology and uses TDoA for positioning. Visit our RTLS page to learn more.

Areas in Retail Where Our RTLS Solution Can Be Used

PathPartner's Solution for RTLS in Retail

Figure 1: RTLS in Retail Stores

Popular use-cases of RTLS in Retail:

1. Cart tracking to analyse customer movement
How would you give your customers personalised experience if you did not know at which location in your store, they spend most of the time? Further, learning customer behaviour will help in planning product placement and promotion.
2. Staff efficiency assessment
Employee tracking inside a large retail store is one of the first steps one takes in the process of efficiency improvement. A sales clerk should be available to assist a buyer when the need arises.
3. In-store navigation for first time customers
Finding your way through a large store can be a daunting task, especially if you are a first-time customer. So, why not give the customers freedom to find their way seamlessly throughout the store?
4. Capturing store analytics
Track the movements of your customers in real-time, get to know the areas of maximum foot traffic, analyse the behaviour of the customers, and take profitable measures accordingly.
5. In-Aisle marketing
Is there some small display tucked in the corner going unnoticed by the customers? The store can send offer messages when buyers are in the vicinity.
6. Inventory Management
Keeping track of the inventory in a large store isn’t an easy job. Manual handling of such process can lead to several errors. So, why not associate certain valuable assets or article with tags and automate the process of inventory management?

If you are curious about how accurate your RTLS solution needs to be, read this article on How accurate should your asset tracking solution be?

What Prompted This Need for RTLS in Retail?

 Online Shopping - PathPartner

Figure 2: Online Shopping

The emergence of ecommerce has redefined the shopping experience. It has enabled shoppers to purchase their desired items within the comfort of their homes. The occasional offers and personalised product recommendations have further enhanced the online shopping experience.

Even with all the ease and excitement, large shopping centres are mostly seen flocking with humungous crowds. Even today, the majority of sales are attributed to offline shopping. Thus arises the need to bridge the gap between the offline and online shopping experiences for the customers.

So, let’s explore online shopping from the perspective of a retail store.

What useful answers are available to the ecommerce retailor?

  1. How many customers are visiting the site?
  2. Which product pages are they viewing?
  3. Which products are they keeping in the ‘Wishlist’?
  4. Which products are they adding to the cart?
  5. Which products are they removing from the cart before hitting the buy now option?
  6. For which products are the customers directly hitting the ‘buy now’ button rather than ‘add to cart’ button?
  7. Which are the most searched products (based on the search history’ of every buyer)?
  8. How long does the customer take to make a buying decision?
  9. Demographics: How is the traffic distributed by age, gender, etc.?
  10. How does the traffic distribution change over time?
Online Shopping - PathPartner

Figure 3: Online Shopping

Inferences that can be made from the available data:

  1. What are the most sought-after products?
  2. What are the items most frequently purchased together?
  3. How many products can only make their way to the cart and not beyond?
  4. What prompts buyers’ actions?
  5. Which area of the site gets majority of the clicks?
  6. What type of products is each buyer looking for?

How to make use of the data:

  1. Providing the users with personalised recommendations.
  2. Checking the probability of giving offers on items in the cart or wish list.
  3. Sending price drop alerts to those buyers.
  4. Sending occasional notifications of new products similar to the ones already purchased.
  5. Developing the buyer persona and consequently driving marketing activities.

Checkout our video on RTLS in Retail

RTLS  in Retail Stores - PathPartner's Solution

Figure 4: RTLS in Retail Stores

Bridging the Gap Between Online Shopping and Brick-and-Mortar Shopping

RTLS  in Retail Stores - PathPartner's Solution

Figure 5: RTLS in Retail Stores

Now, let’s explore the utilities an RTLS would give to a brick-and-mortar store. RTLS tags can be attached to the shopping carts, sales clerks, and probably some of the high-value products, too. This will – to some extent – bring the transparency, interactivity, engagement and personalization of online shopping to brick-and-mortar shopping.

What data can be gathered from this:

  1. Movement of the customer – Movement of the customers can be tracked by tracking their shopping carts. A customer usually grabs a shopping cart at the time they set foot in the store.
    Tracking the carts can give the store owner insights about the most popular and least popular sections of the store. It can further introduce him to the buyer’s journey and allow him to define the buyer persona. The data from cart tracking would also highlight how the customers prefer to move around the store, how frequently they come back to the same section, and which sections do they prefer to skip.
    Such information about customer movement could open potential doors for cross-promotions, special offers and pricing. This could also allow retailers to enhance the shopping experience of the customers by making adjustments as per the customer’s need.
  2. Products that are left behind on the cart and no longer cross the cashier.
  3. Areas of maximum foot traffic. There are certain sections in a store that always receive maximum foot traffic, no matter what. Identification of such areas can prove to be crucial for the store owner in deciding the right utilization of those areas.

Want to see out RTLS reference solution in action? Check this out


RTLS is a must for retail stores from the perspective of both marketing and overall operations. Whether you are looking to deploy a similar solution in your store or have any query regarding our RTLS reference solution, do not hesitate to write to us.

Further reading

  1. Triangulation vs Trilateration vs Multilateration – for Indoor Positioning Systems
  2. Your ultimate guide to choosing the right UWB methodology
  3. Why transportation industry is sensing a growing need for real-time location tracking?
  4. How IoT is transforming the healthcare industry?

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By submitting this form, you authorize PathPartner to contact you with further information about our relevant content, products and services. You may unsubscribe any time. We are committed to your privacy. For more details, refer our Privacy Policy

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