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Germany Sees Another Item-Level RFID Apparel Program

Another German retailer has launched an ambitious item-level RFID tagging program, announced yesterday by ADT Security Services. Karstadt, which has 86 department stores and 32 sporting goods stores, is tagging selected items of men's apparel in a six-month pilot that launched in September.
Dec 07, 2007This article was originally published by RFID Update.

December 7, 2007—Another German retailer has launched an ambitious item-level RFID tagging program, announced yesterday by ADT Security Services. Karstadt, which has 86 department stores and 32 sporting goods stores, is tagging selected items of men's apparel in a six-month pilot that launched in September.

Specifically, men's jeans, sweaters, and shirts from six different manufacturers will be tagged at a Karstadt distribution center. The tagging will occur at the same point where anti-theft EAS tags are currently applied. From that moment through the point-of-sale, tagged items will be read at five points, enabling comprehensive visibility of the merchandise while it is under Karstadt's possession. The read points are: upon receipt at the store, between the back room and store floor, on shelves, at the point of sale, and with mobile readers that store staff use to conduct inventory. Tags are removed upon sale to a customer.

The company plans to use roughly 50,000 tags over the duration of the pilot.

Karstadt expects numerous benefits from this item-level deployment, some predictable, others not. "The notion of getting better retail visibility before the point of sale offers a lot of benefit," Randy Dunn, ADT's national sales and marketing director for RFID in North America, told RFID Update. "Part of running pilots like this is to help end users understand exactly what the benefits are for their particular business."

Likely candidates include a dramatic reduction in the amount of time necessary to conduct store inventory; improved inventory accuracy, enabling misplaced items to be restocked faster; data about how often items are removed from their shelves; and improved and automated shipment reporting, enabling errors to be discovered and corrected faster.

Depending on how, and to what extent, these benefits yield a return on investment in the technology, Karstadt will move forward with a chainwide deployment. According to what the company told RFID Update, decisions about how and if to expand could be made before the scheduled completion of the pilot in the first quarter of next year.

ADT served a leading role in the deployment. In addition to systems integration services, the company provided the iREAD RFID platform from ADT's Sensormatic, which is a Gen2 item-level architecture for stock management. "This is technology ADT offers that is unique to the Tyco family of products," said Dunn, referring to ADT's parent corporation.

Other deployed hardware includes inlays from UPM Raflatac, fixed readers from Impinj, handheld readers from Intermec, and printers from Toshiba TEC.

The parallels between this pilot and the system announced by competitor METRO earlier this fall are striking: both are German retailers, both identified men's apparel as the target category, and both span from distribution center to point of sale (see METRO Unveils Warehouse-to-Checkout RFID System). Whether that is coincidence or a trend is largely irrelevant; the existence of both initiatives will benefit adoption regardless.

Read the announcement from ADT
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