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Jakob Jost Tests RFID

The German retailer will track garments by means of EPC Gen 2 tags, applied by a number of fashion suppliers, including Gardeur, Seidensticker and Gerry Weber.
By Rhea Wessel
Feb 08, 2010Jakob Jost, a midsize clothing retailer based in southern Germany, is testing a system to track RFID-tagged garments received from clothing manufacturers, from the time they arrive at the retailer's logistics center until the goods are placed on store floors. The company says the application—which includes cooperation with suppliers that deliver tagged garments—is a first for a German retailer of its size.

Jakob Jost, which reported €30 million ($41 million) in sales in 2008 and has a staff of 250, sought a way to improve the way it receives incoming shipments, conducts inventory and replenishes its stock, and to ensure that consumers can locate the garments they want at the company's four retail stores. Despite employing 10 staff members to receive incoming goods, the firm experienced a 5 percent variation between goods listed on delivery notices and actual goods delivered, and workers had to spend untold hours matching up items. What's more, the firm suffered stock-outs roughly 10 percent of the time.


A Jakob Jost employee uses a Nordic ID PL3000 Cross Dipole UHF handheld reader to take inventory.
To tackle these issues, Jakob Jost began exploring various solutions. Eventually, it joined a GS1 Germany-sponsored group focused on radio frequency identification.

Patric Knoll, Jakob Jost's head of business operations, says few of the midsize companies in the group were willing to take the plunge into RFID. Therefore, his firm created a budget for a pilot and decided to test the technology. "The goal was to show that a midsize company can use RFID," he states.

According to Knoll, the retailer decided to test the use of RFID with handheld readers before investing in a fixed infrastructure. "It's not about the technology," he explains. "That doesn't interest us at all. We want to see a benefit." After it analyzes the pilot results in mid-2010, the company intends to decide if it will make further infrastructure investments and continue using RFID.

Jakob Jost chose RF-iT Solutions, an Austrian RFID solutions provider focused on the retail industry, and security systems firm ADT to help it implement the project. RF-iT Solutions provided a number of capabilities, including tagging, goods receipt, mobile inventory and more, while ADT procured and maintains the RFID hardware.

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