Monday, November 5, 2007

METRO....the future of retailing

Future Shop is a Canadian electronics retailer operating a total of 126 stores across all of Canada's provinces as of August, 2007. The company also had locations in the Western United States but they closed down during 1999; most locations became Best Buy.

Future Shop was purchased for over C$500 million by Best Buy Canada on November 4, 2001. Best Buy has continued to operate the Future Shop locations under their original name, although it is now opening Best Buy-branded stores in Canada as well.

Future Shop is a chain electronics store and operates as such; products sold are largely directed at entertainment (such as video game or music-related merchandise) or business (such as desktop computers, computer parts and office software), though appliances are generally sold there as well.

Some of the products that it sells are manufactured by several brands owned by Best Buy: Insignia, Dynex, Rocketfish, and until recently, Geek Squad products.

The most notable of the differences between Future Shop and parent company Best Buy is that while sales people at Best Buy are paid a wage, Future Shop sales people in all sales departments excluding the entertainment department are paid a commission or renumeration based on the products and services (e.g. Extended Warranty) sold.

The METRO Extra "Future Store"

The METRO Extra Future Store in Rheinberg, Germany, is the industry's showplace for radio frequency (RFID) product tagging technology. To an external observer it appears to be just an average, modern supermarket with some high-tech gadgetry and a few aisles of DVD's and CD's thrown in. But in reality, the store was designed as both a living technology laboratory and a model for the future of global retailing.

At the Future Store, companies like Gillette, Procter & Gamble, Kraft, IBM, and Microsoft are testing remote product tracking technologies on live consumers in a real store environment.

The store, which opened in April 2003, has been called a "life-sized petri dish" by the press. IBM, a partner in the project, has publicly referred to the store's customers as "guinea pigs."

Privacy Scandals and Public Backlash

In recent months, the METRO Future Store has been rocked by scandals over privacy, inappropriate use of technology, inadequate customer disclosures, and misleading claims. Many believe that the RFID trial has gotten out of control and should be halted.


ine Albrecht, Founder and Director of CASPIAN (the organization that created this website), toured the Future Store on January 31, 2004 and discovered problems ranging from RFID tags hidden in the store's loyalty cards to shopping carts that track customer movements and RFID tag "deactivation" stations that do not work as claimed.
CASPIAN then worked with German privacy organization FoeBuD to raise awareness among the German public about RFID, and to educate consumers about its misuse at the Future Store. The result was over 100 newspaper, magazine, television, and radio features across Germany -- including front page headline stories -- informing German shoppers of the risks associated with METRO's controversial use of RFID.

German consumers have been outraged to discover the unwitting role they have played in advancing this technology and are making it clear that they will not tolerate being used as guinea pigs by the RFID industry.

The public backlash has put enormous pressure on METRO to end the trials. In addition to being targeted by a consumer protest involving more than a dozen German privacy and civil liberties groups, the store and its partners have come under investigation by the office of the German Privacy Commissioner and could be facing legal action. In response, METRO has already begun at least a partial retreat, announcing on February 26th that it will no longer hide RFID tags in its loyalty cards.

METRO unveils the ‘store of the future’ with help from Microsoft

Real-time collaboration technology helps managers run a highly efficient operation

At first glance, the Future Store looks like an ordinary supermarket, with wide aisles, bustling shoppers, and counters filled with fresh produce. But this technology-testing grocery store located in the quiet town of Rheinberg, Germany, is helping to define the future of retail.

The supermarket's operator, Germany's METRO Group, learns from the Future Store how to drive efficiency in its retail operations. The key to greater efficiency, they've found, is real-time information-sharing and tighter collaboration up and down the supply chain, says Dr. Gerd Wolfram, executive manager for the Future Store initiative.

Current experiments at the Future Store include intelligent scales that automatically recognize, weigh, and price produce, and smart shelves that count shelf inventory and detect product mix-ups. Another experiment gives employees immediate access to point-of-sale (POS) information, letting supervisors better manage the supermarket and detect possible fraud.

Microsoft offers fresh, powerful solutions

METRO Group's operations generate 50 billion Euros ($66.5 billion US) a year in revenue, making it the world's fourth-largest retailer. The company's brands, located in 28 countries, include: department store Kaufhof Galleria; wholesaler METRO Cash & Carry; Real and Extra in food retailing; Praktiker in home improvement; and Media Markt in consumer electronics.

Microsoft technologies play a large role in Future Store experiments, especially in fostering collaboration. Zygmunt Mierdorf, METRO Group's CIO and executive vice president of human resources, credits Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server, Microsoft BizTalk Server, and the development tools that use Extended Markup Language (XML) standards. He also notes Microsoft as a leader in handling Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and Electronic Product Codes (EPC).

"In the new fields of RFID and EPC, Microsoft is offering fresh, powerful solutions," says Mierdorf. "Especially in real-time retail software and in middleware, Microsoft has the building blocks where all of the data coming from the RFID readers will be filtered to discover alert situations and then go out to other applications in real time to react to those alerts."

Microsoft technologies even let customers use personal shopping assistants (PSAs) to locate items and keep tallies of what they've picked. The METRO Group singles out three benefits Microsoft technologies bring to retailing:

Fast development—four to six weeks in many cases

Easy interfaces that allow access to different inputs and outputs on a variety of devices

Powerful software functionality

The role Microsoft technologies play at the METRO Group Future Store is documented in video form. See below for links.

Facts About METRO

"METRO Group pursues...
expansion and internationalization."

- METRO AG Website

METRO AG is Germany's largest retailer and the fifth largest retailer in the world. Metro operates more than 2,300 retail stores in 28 countries, including supermarkets, hypermarkets, department stores, home improvement stores, and consumer electronics stores under the Cash & Carry, Real, Extra, Media Market, Praktiker, and Galeria Kaufhof banners. The company employs 235,000 people.

METRO's growth in recent decades has been fueled by aggressive acquisition of smaller retail chains around the globe. While the company lists "internationalization" as a key objective, METRO CEO, Dr. Hans-Joachim Korber, denies that METRO is "building an empire."

the website of the store is

You can see lots and lots of amazing videos about the future shop a latest trend in retail. Check the links.

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