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Belgian Clothing Retailer JBC Using RFID at 144 Stores

Checkpoint RFID tags, readers and middleware enable the retailer to track when goods arrive at and leave its distribution center, as well as check inventory on store shelves.
By Claire Swedberg
Dec 23, 2015

Belgian clothing retailer JBC has taken a large-scale radio frequency identification system live across all 144 of its stores throughout Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany. The deployment involves the use of EPC Gen 2 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags to track garments at the point of manufacture, in the distribution center and on store shelves. In April 2016, the retailer expects to use the RFID solution to track purchases at the point of sale (POS).

With the RFID technology, provided by Checkpoint Systems, JBC says it now has visibility into the full supply chain for the more than 17 million pieces of apparel it sells annually, from 100 different suppliers, including 1.5 million hanging garments and 15.5 million flat-packed items.

Each piece of merchandise sold at JBC's stores is tagged with a Checkpoint Systems RFID label.
JBC, headquartered in Houthalen-Helchteren, Belgium, where it employs 270 people, is among the country's primary retailers for clothing. The firm spent considerable time investigating RFID technology and opted "to maximize the benefits," says Fred Tielens, JBC's logistics manager, by rolling out the solution throughout the entire supply chain, from source to store. It dubs the initiative the "Source to Store/Shopper Project."

The technology was piloted in 2013 at two stores. At that time, the company was able to learn how the technology worked, with a focus on the store's use cases, inventory tracking and point-of-sale.

"The primary objective was to save time in the stores by reducing handling costs," Tielens explains. The company sought not only to reduce the amount of labor its staff spent scanning bar codes on labels to conduct inventory checks, but also to improve its stock accuracy. In that way, he says, sales associates would spend less time searching for garments and instead focus on helping shoppers.

Once the solution was agreed upon, the company began installing Checkpoint readers in February 2015, as well as software to manage the collected read data. The installation was completed in June.

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