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Fashion Retailer Leverages Virtual Shielding to Overcome Stray RFID Reads

Superdry has launched a solution from Nedap that employs the technology company's virtual shielding to prevent spill-over tag reads that had been affecting read accuracy in the retailer's previous solution.
By Claire Swedberg
Aug 06, 2019

Throughout the past two years, U.K. clothing company Superdry has taken a strategic approach to its RFID technology deployment, ensuring that the system achieved the effectiveness it needed at several dozen stores before deploying the technology across all of its sites. As a result, the company has resolved early problems related to stray tag reads and is now moving to the next phase: deploying UHF RFID technology at 200 of its worldwide stores this year.

The company first investigated RFID technology a few years ago in an effort to improve its inventory accuracy, then deployed the system across 37 stores (see story Superdry Rolls Out RFID Across Some U.K., All U.S. Stores). The solution is now deployed across all of its U.K. locations. In 2018, it signed up for Nedap's !D Cloud solution, which modifies how the RFID technology is used.

Superdry's fashion brand focuses on contemporary styles, with a vintage Americana- and Japanese-inspired graphics focus blended with British style. It has 515 branded locations across 46 countries and operates from 21 websites. Like other retailers and brands, the company sought to improve its inventory accuracy—not only to ensure goods were on the shelf at its stores, but so that they could be ordered online and shipped to customers from the nearest location.

Once it implemented the first version of its RFID system, however, Superdry found that the technology had shortcomings. When sales associates read RFID tags at store sites, unwanted stray reads were being captured—from the stock rooms, for instance. To solve this problem, the firm applied shielding to help prevent those stray reads, and to thereby better identify when tagged items were moved from a stock room to the sales floor.

Even with the metallic paint-based shielding in place, though, stray reads still made the system unreliable. The staff dialed down the power of their handheld RFID readers, which reduced the incidence of unwanted reads, but with decreased read power, associates had to be very close to the tags in order to read them, and that slowed the inventory-counting process to about two and a half hours per store.

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