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Macy's Expands RFID and Beacon Deployments
The retailer has begun tagging fashion garments at its Macy's and Bloomingdale's stores, to help make sure the merchandise is on the sales floor and to reduce the need for markdowns.
Sep 16, 2014—
Macy's and Bloomingdale's vendors have begun tagging fashion items, such as social dresses and men's jackets, for all of the retailer's stores. The RFID rollout, for item-level inventory tracking, follows initial piloting of RFID for fashion apparel at several of Macy's stores within the United States (see Macy's Inc. to Begin Item-Level Tagging in 850 Stores and RFID a 'Very Big Part of Macy's Future'). Macy's Inc. operates both Macy's and Bloomingdale's stores.
In addition to expanding its use of passive EPC ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags, Macy's Inc. is also building out its deployment of Shopkick Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons, to include multiple departments in all stores. This will enable a shopper who opts in to receive discount coupons and rewards within a store, based on his or her location (see Macy's Tests Shopkick's ShopBeacon at New York, San Francisco Stores). During this expansion, says Jim Sluzewski, Macy's Inc.'s senior VP of corporate communications and external affairs, the company is installing a total of approximately 4,000 beacons, with plans to have them taken live in the next few months.
The retailer had not focused on faster-changing categories, such as fashion items, according to Sluzewski, because they are often not replenished at all. Generally, soon after such merchandise is received at the store, it is placed on the sales floor, where it remains for up to eight to 10 weeks until the inventory is depleted. Any garments remaining after that period are marked down in price.
During the past spring and summer, however, Macy's Inc. has been considering (and testing) a change to that strategy, and has been tagging some of its fashion goods to make sure all items are on the sales floor, where customers can view them. Tags were interrogated in the back room as apparel was received, and staff members then periodically conducted inventory checks on the sales floor to ensure that nothing had ended up missing. If an order of women's dresses is received in the back room, for instance, the garments may not all be placed on display at first, due to the store having extra inventory. If high-fashion garments on the sales floor are not replenished when sold, however, some of those items might remain in the stockroom and thus might not be sold during that short eight- to 10-week window of full-price opportunity.
All stores already have handheld EPC UHF RFID readers onsite that employees can use to track inventory in other departments. As such, the pilots involving high-fashion apparel only required the application of tags to those goods and the training of personnel in that department to read the tags.
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