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RFID Speeds Up Preparations for Flash Sales

High-paced online retailer Vente-privee.com is using Tageos passive UHF tags to manage product samples, to ensure they are properly photographed and described as they circulate around the French facility.
By Claire Swedberg
Tags: Retail

The Frequentiel software records each tagged sample's location via a combination of RFID reads and bar-code scans. When a sample enters the facility, an employee attaches a Tageos passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) label to that item and inputs a description of it into the Frequentiel software, residing on Vente-Privee.com's database. The description is linked to the unique ID number encoded to the Tageos label's built-in Alien Technology or NXP Semiconductors RFID chip. Initially, the samples are typically placed within a storage area on a shelf. As each sample is put away, a worker reads the RFID tag on that product via a handheld Psion Workabout Pro 3 RFID reader, and then scans the ID number printed on the shelf's bar-coded label in order to link the location with that particular item, according to Jeremie Scantamburlo, Tageos' marketing project manager.

When a sample is ready to be worn by a model, or to be photographed, a staff member proceeds to the location identified in the software. He or she can then use the RFID reader in Geiger counter mode to seek that specific item. The sample is moved to its new location, where the worker interrogates the tag once more and inputs the latest information, such as the department in which it is located and the process to be conducted. That data is then transmitted to the software via a Wi-Fi connection.

Élodie Largenton uses a Psion Workabout Pro 3 reader to scan the shelf's bar-code label and read the RFID tags of the shoe samples located there. (Photograph by Émilie Carpuat/Vente-privee.com)
The software enables the company not only to track each sample's location, but also to view where that item has been. In that way, the staff can determine which processes have been completed for a particular sample, and whether a step has been missed prior to the item's return to the product supplier.

To date, the company has tagged hundreds of thousands of samples. With the solution, personnel carry approximately 100 handheld RFID readers. So far, Mariani reports, employees have been using the technology without experiencing any problems. "The solution was required to be easy to use for staff members not familiar with logistics processes," he states.

Since the solution was taken live in March 2012, Mariani says, it has helped to ensure that samples do not end up missing. The system has also reduced the time employees spend otherwise searching for missing items, he adds, though he declines to indicate the amount of savings resulting from the technology's use.

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