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South Africa's The House of Busby Slashes Inventory Labor via RFID

The retailer is using Keonn RFID technology from Milestone Integrated Systems to track inventory and prevent shrinkage at one of its Johannesburg stores.
By Claire Swedberg

When a worker conducts inventory counts at the store, he or she uses an AdvanScan handheld reader. The employee simply opens the AdvanScan app on the device, selects a prompt to create a new inventory count, and walks around the store front or back room, capturing tag ID reads while passing products on shelves or hangers. The reader then forwards the collected data to the cloud-based software via a Wi-Fi or cellular connection, thereby creating an updated stock count.

At the point of sale, an AdvanPay reader is installed beneath the counter. When a customer purchases products at the store, an associate sweeps each product's tag over the reader, which captures every tag's unique ID. Those tag IDs are deactivated in the software, and the tags themselves, once removed from the items, can be reused on other products.

At the store's exit, Milestone installed an AdvanSafe overhead loss-prevention reader. If a person carries a product through the door with a tag that has not been deactivated, the reader will capture that tag's ID number. The AdvanCloud software will then trigger an audible alert, while also sending an SMS text message to store associates, not only indicating that something is being removed from the store, but also identifying the product. The system also displays a picture of that item, and its inventory status is updated to indicate that it is no longer in stock.

The system's most notable gain since the technology was taken live, Lourens reports, has been a reduction in labor for stock counting. "Before the RFID installation, it took a team of six people about two working days to complete an inventory," he says. "Now, with RFID, it takes less than half an hour to complete an inventory." This equates to a reduction in operating costs, Lourens adds, while the technology also ensures inventory accuracy so that products are on the shelf where customers can see them. That, he points out, results in higher profits for the store.

The House of Busby is now considering installing similar RFID solutions at its other brand stores. The company says it operates more than 150 such stores throughout South Africa, with more than 50 located in the country's top seven malls.

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