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Wolky Reduces Stock-Outs, Boosts Sales With RFID

The Dutch retailer is tagging all of its shoeboxes, and is using handheld readers to take inventory for its online and brick-and-mortar stores.
By Beth Bacheldor
Jul 09, 2013

Using an RFID-enabled inventory- and retail-management system provided by Nedap Retail, Dutch shoe retailer Wolky has significantly reduced its incidence of inventory errors. During the first two weeks of using the system, the company found that its stock accuracy jumped from 84 percent to 98 percent. Those accuracy gains, the company reports, led to fewer stock-outs and an increase in sales.

Manually counting and tracking stock can be time-consuming and error-prone, particularly considering that pairs of shoes come in multiple sizes and colors, are often put on hold by customers, are transferred between stores, and are sometimes mislabeled when entered into an inventory-management system. Using an automated RFID-enabled process, says Tom van Geemen, Wolky's CEO, reduces the amount of time required to check inventory levels and improves accuracy—which is essential for the retailer, especially since it uses its in-store inventory to fulfill orders placed on its Web site and has integrated real-time stock information with its online store. "For our customers, it was a big improvement to know what was actually in stock," he states. "From that perspective, we realized that we needed a stock accuracy of 100 percent, instead of an average of 95 percent. Because of the work of Nedap, we are now realizing this. And in all shops, the sales staff is realizing that the stock accuracy is very helpful for them as well, and raises the amount of satisfied customers."

Wolky store employees take inventory twice weekly, using the !D Hand device to read the RFID tag attached to each shoebox, and then view the results on a mobile device.

Wolky, which sells the Wolky brand of comfort shoes in a variety of styles, just finished rolling out Nedap's Store !D system at its eight brick-and-mortar stores in the Netherlands, as well as at one location in Germany. To date, the retailer reports that it has tagged more than 3,000 pairs of Wolky shoes. According to van Geemen, Wolky Shop intends to tag its entire stock by year's end, and expects to have approximately 25,000 pairs tagged.

Store !D consists of the !D Hand, a mobile RFID reader weighing 250 grams (8.8 ounces) and capable of reading up to 10,000 RFID tags per hour; an application that runs on the Apple iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad, and which processes all of the tag reads; !D Cloud, an online service for managing and analyzing all of the collected data; and paper labels embedded with passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) EPC Gen 2-compliant tags. The system works with any EPC RFID tag programmed with Serialized Global Trade Item Number (SGTIN) codes, including hard tags.

The !D Hand, which is central to Store !D, is capable of reading both passive UHF tags and Near Field Communication (NFC) high-frequency (HF) RFID tags (see RFID News Roundup: Nedap Intros Dual UHF RFID and NFC Handheld Device), though The Wolky Shop is not presently employing the NFC functionality, which can be utilized to authenticate and identify workers who use !D Hand. The !D Hand reader communicates via a Bluetooth connection with other mobile devices running the Store !D app, such as an iPhone or iPad. The app, which can be downloaded from the Apple iTunes Web site, can be activated by the retailer via a QR code provided by Nedap. Such activation is required to initially establish a secure connection with !D Cloud. The retailer simply scans the QR code that it receives from Nedap, using the camera on the iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad. This QR code identifies the customer and user, and is used by the app to set up a secure connection to the customer's database in the !D Cloud. As the !D Hand reads tags, each tag is registered, filtered and processed by the Store !D app, which synchronizes the tag reads, product data and client's locale with information residing in !D Cloud.

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