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Marc O'Polo Discovers RFID's Benefits

Having deployed an EPC UHF system at its 86 European stores, the apparel company says it expects an increase in revenue, thanks to the higher availability of goods on the sales floor.
By Claire Swedberg
Jan 30, 2015

German casual apparel company Marc O'Polo has adopted a radio frequency identification solution to track its products across the entire supply chain, from its distribution center to 86 of its stores throughout Europe. The company finished installing the system at all 87 sites by September 2014, and is now expanding the deployment to include the tagging of products by manufacturers, thereby enabling the retailer to track its merchandise from the point at which they are made. The company is using Detego Suite 4.0, provided by Enso Detego, to capture and manage RFID read data from each tagged item. The system has been taken live at all of Marc O'Polo's retail stores. Enso Detego was able to accomplish the fast deployment with the help of several third-party solution providers: Meco Group, Knoblauch and Tailorit.

Marc O'Polo, headquartered south of Munich, in Stephanskirchen, owns and operates 110 stores worldwide that are dedicated to selling its casual clothing made from natural materials. The company also sells its apparel through 165 franchise stores, 1,190 retail partners and 1,320 multi-brand stores. Its products, which include eyewear and other accessories, cater to young consumers. At its headquarters, the firm operates a DC that receives garments manufactured by third-parties and ships them to its stores as needed. Marc O'Polo reached out to Enso Detego for an end-to-end solution that would increase its supply chain visibility and product availability on the sales floor.

Marc O'Polo's Jana Hildenbrand
"We wished to overcome several challenges," says Jana Hildenbrand, Marc O'Polo's director of sales support and head of the RFID installation project. "Firstly, RFID was implemented to make processes in logistics and stores more efficient, but also to increase time for customer services." By freeing the sales staff from the task of time-consuming inventory tracking, she explains, the system could allow those employees to spend more time with customers. "We wanted to have a higher goods' availability. And last—but not least—we, of course, planned to have an increase in [product sales] turnover."

Marc O'Polo started with a pilot in its boutique at the company's headquarters in 2013, in order to test the system's functionality in a real-world setting. The RFID solution deployed at the boutique provided the ideal environment for testing and approving features and updates, according to Michael Goller, Enso Detego's CTO, and enabled Enso Detego to quickly customize the solution to meet Marc O'Polo's needs.

With the RFID system installed at its distribution center and 86 stores in Europe, the retailer is now encoding a unique ID number to each RFID tag at its headquarters and shipping batches of them to the individual manufacturers. Factory workers are applying an Avery Dennison AD-380 tag to each item. The tagged products are then shipped to the company's DC, Goller says, where they are identified upon receipt via a highly sophisticated RFID infrastructure based on Impinj RFID readers and Kathrein antennas. Beyond the identification at the inbound stage, the Detego Suite 4.0 software provides additional modules to support the individual processes at the DC, such as picking, pack verification and outbound shipping.

At the stores, sales associates use Nordic ID handheld readers to identify received goods and perform reconciliation against the shipping notice. The product's status is automatically updated as it is received at the store, and the store's inventory record is updated as well. Personnel also utilize the Nordic ID readers to perform periodic inventory checks on the store shelves, in order to quickly update the inventory count in the software.

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