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Clothing Designer Brings RFID to Its Shoppers

NP is expanding its RFID system to fitting rooms, store shelves and sales counters, to improve customers' shopping experience and speed the payment process.
By Claire Swedberg
Dec 05, 2008At its store in Hollola, Finland, women's clothing designer Naisten Pukutehdas (NP) has extended its RFID system to the sales floor. The company—which sells women's fashion, marketed under the NP Collection brand, at 500 retail locations in Scandinavia and Russia, as well as in 10 of its own stores—has created what it hopes to be a smart store, employing RFID sensors in its dressing rooms and on its shelves to provide customers with better, more personalized service.

The Hollola store, a new retail location that opened in November, is utilizing a Senso Retail Solutions system, provided by Rosendahl Digital Networks (RDN), to help shoppers identify purchases, as well as to assist staff members in improving inventory management and security. The store's workers will use the system for daily inventory checks, to obtain real-time data regarding which inventory is on the shelves and automatic notices when it is time to replenish.

This first installation is intended to test the system closer to home, as NP Collection's distribution center is located near the Hollola site, says Nina Into, RDN's marketing coordinator. In the next few months, however, the clothing designer intends to install the same system at its store in St. Petersburg, Russia.

In 2007, NP began tagging all of its garments with EPC Gen 2 UHF tags for supply chain tracking (see Finnish Fashion Designer Begins Item Level Tracking). The clothing is manufactured at factories owned and operated by third parties in Eastern Europe and China. With RFID readers at NP's distribution center in Finland, the company has been able to reduce errors and cut man-hours previously spent manually checking garments to ensure the correct products are being sent to the proper locations. SML Group RFID labels containing UPM Raflatac EPC Gen 2 UHF inlays are sewn into all clothing items at factories in Estonia and Asia. Thus far, NP has tagged 250,000 garments in 2008.

The next phase of the deployment has been to bring radio frequency identification into the stores themselves. At the Hollola site, the Senso fitting rooms are equipped with Smart Displays—a wall-mounted screen with touch-screen capabilities and a built-in RFID interrogator.

When an item is carried into the fitting room, an Impinj RFID interrogator reads its tag ID number. That ID number is sent to the store's back-end ERP system via a wireless connection, prompting information and images related to the item to appear on the LCD screen in the dressing room. In that way, users could, for example, visualize a garment with other accessories or clothing.

Customers can press the touch-screen to select items they would like to try with the garment they have already carried into the dressing room. The screen will then display the requested product information, such as the color and size options available. "Using the touch screen," Into says, "she will be able to select a size and/or a color of the product she wants to try on."

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