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Brazilian Supermarket Operator Improves Logistics, Inventory Accuracy

Grupo Pão-de-Açúcar's investment in RFID has eliminated accounting discrepancies and boosted efficiency related to the distribution of fish to its Pão-de-Açúcar and Extra stores.
By Edson Perin

According to Leonidas, store managers' involvement in the ordering process is now much less intensive. "Eventually, a manager can see, for example, that a close competitor might be missing a certain product," he states, "and could then ask for an increase in the stock of that commodity to serve consumers."

RFID technology is improving this automation, and is freeing managers to perform specific tasks, in order to take advantage of business opportunities that go beyond the routine.

"We, in fact, have been monitoring developments in RFID for some years," Leonidas says, "because we have a very complex operation, with more than 150,000 SKUs [stock-keeping units] which require billing processes, handling, separation, etc. All this is very complicated to do without advanced technology. "

Although the company believes the tags are still expensive, Leonidas notes, it still finds that RFID technology offers paybacks, such as improving the reverse-logistics process for boxes, thereby representing a major saving for Grupo Pão-de-Açúcar. "We reduced the loss of boxes, because the control of the input and output of these containers in the stores was facilitated," he says. "The use of RFID in a box of fish allows traceability—both in the delivery of products to stores and in the return of the empty box—bringing huge benefits to the process."

RFID is also employed in other operations of the company, Leonidas says, allowing the exchange of data via forklifts, voice picking and other derivations of the technology's usage. "We have other initiatives in mind, such as using RFID for textile products," he says.

The growth of small shops that have a differentiated business model, such as Extra mini-markets, is demanding greater distribution efficiency, Leonidas adds. "The control that RFID offers to us is sensational," he says. "We have other operations that can benefit from the technology, including consumer electronics. Thus, we gain not only productivity, but inventory accuracy."

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