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Sport Zone Raises Inventory Accuracy With RFID

Following a two-store pilot that found UHF RFID raised inventory accuracy to 99 percent, boosting sales, the sporting goods retailer is now deploying the technology at eight other stores.
By Claire Swedberg
May 18, 2016

European sporting goods and sportswear retailer Sport Zone is expanding its use of RFID technology to eight stores, following a two-store pilot that raised inventory accuracy to 99 percent, thereby boosting sales. The company expects to recoup its investment within a year after deploying an RFID solution that helps it track when merchandise leaves its distribution center, arrives at stores and is put out on the sales floor.

Sport Zone trialed the technology beginning in April 2015, by tagging and tracking all apparel and footwear sold at two of its stores. The technology includes Avery Dennison and Zebra Technologies hardware, as well as software provided by Tyco Retail Solutions.

Miguel Teles, Sport Zone's head of supply chain
Sport Zone sells athletic apparel and sports equipment, such as camping gear, bicycles, balls and treadmills, at its 120 stores—the majority of which are located in Portugal and Spain—and employs a total of 1,300 workers. About half of the retailer's products are its own brands, developed internally, while the other half represent international brands. To meet the replenishment requirements for all of its stores, the company fulfills approximately 100,000 orders daily for all product categories.

Miguel Teles, Sport Zone's head of supply chain, described the deployment at the RFID Journal LIVE! 2016 conference and exhibition, held earlier this month in Orlando, Fla.

Each store averages 1,200 square meters (12,900 square feet) in size, Teles told attendees, adding that inventory inaccuracies can force the sales staff to spend time "chasing out-of-stocks on the sales floor." Three times a year, the stores assign employees to count all inventory—about 25,000 units located on each store's sales floor and in the back room—about 70 percent of which comprise apparel and footwear. The process took around three days to complete. In addition, between those inventory counts, workers occasionally spent time before or after business hours conducting limited counts of everything on the sales floor.

Sport Zone hired an external auditing company to visit its stores. Based on the results of those audits, the firm found that even with the periodic inventory counts, 20 to 30 percent of its stock-keeping units (SKUs) were simply unavailable on the sales floor, despite potentially being in the store—often in the back room.

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