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Kohl's Rolls Out RFID for Select Product Categories at Its Stores

The RFID solution, provided by Checkpoint, was taken live at the retailer's stores and distribution centers.
By Claire Swedberg
Jan 14, 2014

Department store Kohl's has completed its installation of a radio frequency identification solution to track garments in select categories at its stores, as well as distribution centers. The technology was deployed by Checkpoint Systems, which provided middleware, integration, hardware, tags and labels. The deployment followed a pilot undertaken at 25 stores to gauge the effectiveness of reading passive EPC Gen 2 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags on garments during inventory counts. Now, a large number of strategic apparel items, including footwear, denim and men's basics (such as underwear and T-shirts), are being tagged at various points along their supply chain, and then counted during regular inventory cycle counts via handheld readers.

Kohl's, based in Menomonee Falls, Wis., operates stores throughout the United States, selling clothing, home and beauty products. In spring of 2012, the company began investigating the use of RFID technology to improve inventory accuracy by tagging select items and reading those tags during inventory counts. In the fall of 2012, the retailer expanded the technology to a pilot involving 25 stores. Following the successful pilot, Checkpoint and Kohl's began planning the rollout to Kohl's stores for the selected product categories in the spring of 2013, says Per Levin, Checkpoint's president and chief sales officer for merchandise availability solutions.

The deployment provided initial tracking of only certain goods, Levin says. However, he notes, now that the technology is in place, expansion to other stock-keeping units (SKUs) will be easier to accomplish. Kohl's DCs also went live with the technology, and vendors of the selected items are now tagging goods at the point of manufacture.

Checkpoint provides product factories in Asia and throughout the world with RFID labels printed and encoded by its own service bureaus, and the vendors then apply the tags to the items prior to shipping them to a customer's distribution centers. At a DC, the tags can be read via handheld and/or fixed readers as they are received, and again as the items are shipped to a store.

Checkpoint's flexible architecture can be configured in a variety of ways, ranging from centrally deployed to distributed architecture and cloud-based, as well as a combination of these, depending on a retailer's IT infrastructure and business needs. At Kohl's, Checkpoint's solution is installed at the retailer's central data center.

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