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Norwegian Apparel Company in Good Mood Over RFID

Moods of Norway boosted sales of men's shirts and suits by double digits during a six-month pilot at two stores using an RFID solution from Nedap, by ensuring inventory is accurate; the company has now rolled out the technology at 13 of its locations.
By Claire Swedberg

MoN chose to use Nedap's solution initially at two stores—one in Oslo and another in Stryn (about 500 kilometers [311 miles] to the northwest), located adjacent to the company's distribution center. The firm tagged two product categories: men's shirts and men's suits. Smartrac inlays with NXP Semiconductors G2iL chips were applied to incoming products for the spring season at MoN's DC. The tags were interrogated during stock checks after the tagged shirts and suits were placed on the sales floor.

During the pilot, staff members employed the !D Hand reader and iPod to conduct two in-store inventory checks twice weekly. The reader is designed to be simple to use and easy to maneuver, says Danny Haak, Nedap's RFID product manager. As an alternative to a larger, more cumbersome handheld, the !D Hand consists of a lightweight wand with a single button that a worker can press to capture tag IDs and forward that data to the iPod. The reader's simplicity was a primary selling point for MoN, Hübert says. The clothing company's sales staff, which consists mostly of young people, were well acquainted with iPod technology and Bluetooth connections, he adds, and thus had little trouble carrying the reader and iPod around the sales floor, following prompts on the iPod to begin collecting data about tags being read, and then forwarding that information to the cloud via a Wi-Fi connection.

Moods of Norway's Hans Petter Hübert
Prior to the pilot, each of the two test stores required 30 to 40 man-hours to perform inventory counts of all products on the sales floor. With RFID, however, inventory checks of the tagged items (representing about one-quarter of each store's inventory) could be accomplished within approximately 15 minutes, Hübert reports. During the pilot's early stages, he adds, another 30 to 60 minutes were required to reconcile the read data with expected inventory counts and then follow up with the store manager; as employees and management became used to the system, that reconciliation process was not needed as much.

In early July, MoN decided to roll out the Nedap system to 11 additional stores. That rollout was completed a few weeks ago, the company reports, and all 13 stores are now receiving tagged merchandise and using handheld readers to take inventory. In most cases, Hübert reports, the inventory count of tagged items has become accurate enough that staff members no longer need to conduct inventory checks twice a week; instead, the counts are being scaled back to once a week or twice monthly.

With its RFID expansion to 13 of its stores, the company is also tagging a third category of goods: men's pants. The garments' manufacturers, instead of MoN’s DC, are now tagging all three apparel categories. MoN intends to RFID-tag all children's, sports, women's and men's clothing, as well as footwear, for the spring and summer 2015 seasons.

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