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Singapore Fashion Company Adopts RFID to Be on the Cutting Edge

Decks is RFID-tagging all of its merchandise at the source, and is using the technology to expedite inventory counts and sales transactions, with the goal of boosting sales and attracting and retaining employees.
By Claire Swedberg
Mar 01, 2016

Singapore retailer Decks is employing radio frequency identification to manage inventory and sales transactions at its approximately 35 stores. The RFID technology is provided by SATO. Since the retailer adopted the system eight months ago, it has reduced annual labor hours for stock-taking at all of its stores, from a total of 2,520 hours down to 150, while doing something that the apparel company calls a priority: attracting and retaining qualified employees.

Decks sells fashion apparel—including the Island Shop (which it recently acquired), Beverly Hills Polo Club and Surfers Paradise brands—throughout Singapore in shopping malls and boutiques. The company has a forward-thinking attitude toward technology, says Kelvyn Chee, Decks' managing director. The firm sought not only to have a clearer grasp of what inventory it had at each store and in the distribution center, but also to make it easy for employees to collect that information. In that way, the company could boost sales by ensuring that no products were out of stock, and that they were thus available for customers in stores or online. The retailer began seeking solutions in October 2013.

At its distribution center, Decks installed a portal made with Zebra's FX9500 UHF fixed reader and AN480 reader antennas.
Prior to the RFID deployment, Decks' DC workers typically required 600 labor hours each year to count stock, achieving an accuracy of about 88 percent. The company decided that RFID would make the stock-counting process faster, could also be used to better track which goods are sold (and, therefore, need to be restocked), and could improve employee retention.

Decks' Kelvyn Chee
Decks selected a SATO solution to make inventory management an automatic process. SATO employs a hands-on problem-solving approach known as "genbaryoku," in which its teams work closely with customers to identify challenges and issues at their workplace and cooperatively develop solutions, according to Charles Tan, who led the project for SATO Asia-Pacific.

Initially, Decks tagged goods when they were received at the distribution center. But more recently, suppliers began applying EPC Gen 2 passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags at the point of manufacture. According to Chee, the company opted to tag all of its products, even low-value items, in order to provide a uniform system offering visibility into every product.

When suppliers receive an order from Decks, they use a SATO CL4NX printer to print and encode RFID labels for goods to fill that order. The suppliers affix the labels to those items at the factory, and then ship the tagged merchandise to Decks' DC in Singapore.

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