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RFID Speeds Up Preparations for Flash Sales

High-paced online retailer Vente-privee.com is using Tageos passive UHF tags to manage product samples, to ensure they are properly photographed and described as they circulate around the French facility.
By Claire Swedberg
Tags: Retail
Nov 12, 2013

European online retailer Vente-privee.com sells a wide variety of goods through members-only flash sales, in which products are briefly offered at reduced rates. The nature of the business requires that the company move products, such as watches, clothing, electronics and footwear, quickly. This involves receiving samples at the firm's headquarters in La-Plaine-Saint-Denis, near Paris, preparing photographs, videos and other materials about the products, and then returning the samples to the suppliers while proceeding with a flash sale. Most samples remain onsite for only a few weeks before being returned to their respective vendors.

The company is now employing a radio frequency identification solution from French systems integrator Frequentiel that consists of Frequentiel's own software and Tageos RFID labels, to identify each tagged sample, as well as where it is currently located and where it has been. In that way, the retailer can spend less time searching for samples, ensuring that the items proceed through the appropriate processes and returning them to product suppliers.

Lilian Mariani, Vente-privee.com's project director (left), and Élodie Largenton, the company's sales production project manager (Photograph by Émilie Carpuat/Vente-privee.com)
"In the past four years, the number of samples has multiplied by six," says Lilian Mariani, Vente-privee.com's project director. Prior to installing an RFID solution, the company used a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to chronicle the samples' movements through the facility, with staff members sharing the spreadsheet file with others via e-mail. If a sample was discovered to be missing, personnel sent e-mails attempting to locate it. "The main challenge was to know exactly the location of every sample at all times." Mariani says. Although the firm considered utilizing bar codes, it felt that the process of scanning each item's bar code would be too time-consuming, especially since each sample undergoes several procedures and would thus need to be scanned multiple times.

In 2011, Vente-privee.com began seeking automated ways in which to track the samples. The company also conducted feasibility studies and tests of three solutions, before selecting Frequentiel.

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