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RFID Steps Up Display Accuracy in Shoe Department

A European retailer has deployed an RFID-based inventory-management system from TAG Co. that links a tagged display shoe to its box in the back room, and can also detect if a style or color of shoe is missing from the display.
By Claire Swedberg

This retailer, however, reported a problem at its luxury stores that is common with shoe sales. Only single display shoes for each style and color tend to be available for customers at the luxury stores; for that reason, a specific brand, style and color of shoe may frequently not be on display, and the stock in the back might thus never be sold.

This problem is compounded when the store's management software fails to take this omission into account. The software automatically identifies products that aren't selling after a specified amount of time, then marks down the price once or multiple times until the product sells. If an employee finds that a particular shoe is not on display, he or she can move it to the sales floor at a discounted rate.

The company's largest stores feature approximately 15,000 pairs of shoes, 500 of which are displayed in the front. As such, keeping track of that inventory and ensuring every product is represented on the displays is an astronomical task, the company reports.

In putting together an RFID-based system, Marchese says, TAG Co. and the retailer sought to explore the most effective and affordable options. Tagging every shoe would be unnecessarily expensive, he explains, since most never leave the box before being tried on and purchased. Therefore, TAG Co. developed a solution that is now a key part of ShoRoom. The system features an RFID tag on each display shoe, which is linked to the box in which that shoe was stored with its mate.

When a pair of shoes is received from the distribution center, the sales staff use a Keonn handheld reader to create an RFID tag. They scan the bar code on the box, then select a prompt ("Create Box Tag") in the TAG Co. software. The software prompts the printing of a tag, with a unique ID number linked to that pair of shoes' bar code, on a printer from Zebra Technologies. Staff members affix the adhesive Century tag to the box.

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