Clockwise from top left, Nick Duncan, Peter Vodicka, James Beveridge and Brad Hawkins

RAPIDtech labels on the money

A Perth startup is hoping its electronic price tag technology can help bricks-and-mortar retailers cut costs and provide better customer service in their efforts to combat online competition.

RAPIDtech Solutions directors Brad Hawkins and James Beveridge told Business News they formulated the idea for RAPIDtags – a mass, electronic price tag system – during their time as directors with Elevate Business Group.

Working with a national liquor store franchise to help digitise its shelf labels and save administrative costs, Messrs Hawkins and Beveridge saw an opportunity to sell and market hardware that automated the job of pricing and labelling.

That led to the formation of RAPIDtech in 2018. Soon after Peter Vodicka, managing director of commercial flooring company Floorwise, came on board as a non-executive director to help the business develop partnerships with retailers and distributors across Western Australia.

Mr Beveridge said the company’s hardware was a game changer because it completely automated the monotonous and time-consuming task of changing labels between catalogues and sales campaigns.

“The potential for RAPIDtags is unlimited because there’s massive advantage in being able to control dynamic and instant in-store pricing,” he said.

“We know the product is ready and that it’s going to make a big difference to retail business in Australia.”

So far the company has trialled its system with a single Priceline franchisee in Brisbane, where it replaced 8,000 of the store’s paper tags with electronic price points.

Mr Vodicka said that store managed to save about $2,300 fortnightly on wages as a result of the technology’s implementation, adding up to annual savings of around $60,000.

While those cost-saving metrics will be an important selling point, Mr Vodicka said the time it freed up for staff would be just as vital to RAPIDtags’ sales pitch.

“Those stores won’t have staff spending so much time doing tickets; instead, they’ll have people doing customer service,” he said.

Mr Vodicka said IGA, Chemist Warehouse and Spudshed had expressed an interest in trialling the system on the back of the successful Priceline trial.

If those stores were happy with the hardware, then he said national retailers including Coles and Woolworths would be their next target.

In the meantime, the company has focused on improving the customisability of the hardware for clients, investigating how to incorporate the internet of things and near-field communication into the system as a way to add value.

Mr Vodicka said shops could then have customers place their phones near the tags to receive information about products, such as ingredients or whether or not there was extra stock in nearby outlets.

He said embracing the value of electronic price tags would be integral for physical retailers seeking to compete with online stores, as they would then be able to match them on convenience and access.

“Shops could set these price tags to show there are 10 large, 10 small or 10 medium shirts in stock, so that you wouldn’t have to go to a counter to find out, you’d just see it right there,” Mr Vodicka said.

“As the customer pulls the item off the rack and goes through the register, it will adjust to show how many are then left.

“That would be great for someone like me who hates clothes shopping.”