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Coccinelle Finds RFID Virtually Eliminates Out-of-Stocks for Store and Online Sales

The Dutch clothing retailer is attaching UHF RFID tags to garments, and is using handheld and point-of-sale readers to track which inventory is at stores and available for online sales.
By Claire Swedberg

In April 2012, Coccinelle began tagging its winter 2013 collection. With the Nedap system, RFID stickers are affixed to the backside of the original hangtags, custom-made by a local label supplier. The stickers consist of an Alien Technology ALN-9610 "Squig" inlay with a Higgs3 chip. Workers print the labels on an RFID-enabled version of the Toshiba B-EX4T1-TS12-QM-R thermal printer, and the unique ID number is linked to the product's stock-keeping unit (SKU) in Coccinelle's own ERP software.

The tags can then be read multiple times throughout the inventory process. While employees previously conducted company-wide inventory audits once a year, they now complete the task twice weekly. Workers walk through the store equipped with the Nedap !D Hand handheld, capturing each tag ID and collecting data in the software running on a smartphone or tablet PC linked to the reader via Bluetooth. The software identifies any items missing from inventory, Fikkert says, and the reader can also be set to Geiger mode, in which it will vibrate and beep if it reads the unique ID number of a misplaced item.

Upon purchasing a garment or accessory, a customer takes that item to the sales counter, where a Nedap !D POS desktop reader interrogates the tags of all goods being bought. It then forwards that data to the Softwear POS software, thereby indicating that the item was sold. That status is also updated in the store's inventory, to ensure an accurate account of which products are available at each location.

With the technology in place, Bakker reports, online cancellations have been reduced to almost zero. Any existing cancellations, he adds, result from a high-volume period of store sales that lead to out-of-stocks, thereby making it impossible to fulfill the Web-based order.

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