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World's Largest Item-Level RFID Application Launches

Portuguese book retailer Byblos Amoreiras is operating what it believes is the world's largest single item-level retail application. Byblos has applied Gen2 tags to 150,000 items and can track them to more than 2,000 locations within its 35,000-square-foot Lisbon-based store.
Jan 15, 2008This article was originally published by RFID Update.

January 15, 2008—A new bookstore in Portugal uses RFID to track almost all merchandise in what it indicates is the world's largest item-level retail application in a single store. Retailer Byblos Amoreiras has used Gen2 RFID tags to track 150,000 books, periodicals, CDs, and other merchandise since its new 35,000-square-foot superstore opened in Lisbon in December. The system features a variety of RFID-enabled kiosks, handheld readers, and portals that monitor 2,000 locations in the store.

"This isn't a pilot. Byblos is using item-level RFID as part of running their business. From a technology point of view, it is a complete solution," Gordon Adams of Vue Technology told RFID Update. Vue's item-level RFID management software is used in the system. "As far as we know, it's the largest item-level deployment anywhere in the world."

The system was designed to help customers quickly locate items, and features 40 customer information kiosks throughout the store. Customers can use the kiosks to browse products, see what's in stock, and to be directed to the proper stock locations. The kiosks themselves have embedded RFID readers that help monitor the 2,000 location zones designated throughout the store. There are also 14 RFID-enabled point-of-sale (POS) stations that read RFID tags at checkout. Portal readers monitor doorways, and sound an alarm if they detect a tagged item leaving the store that wasn't recorded at the POS terminal. Byblos also has ten handheld RFID readers that employees use for cycle counting and inventory management.

"Our goal is to combine the most sophisticated means and the maximum attention to detail to provide a superior experience to the customer," Byblos COO Rui Gaspar said in Vue's announcement. "Based on what we have seen in other trials of item-level RFID, we are confident that our investment in RFID will provide the best shopping experience available and ensure that customers can always find the products they need."

Netherlands-based book retailer BGN previously implemented item-level tracking and reported sales increases of ten to 15 percent attributed to the improved ability to find inventory in stores (see Bookstore Item-Level RFID Tagging Boosts Sales).

Byblos creates and applies its own RFID labels, and does not rely on suppliers to provide them. The company uses provisioning software from Vue and printer/encoders from Paxar to encode the EAN bar code number on each item into a Gen2 smart label.

Vue's TrueVUE Platform and TrueVUE Essentials manage RFID data and applications. Portugal's Creativesystems provided systems integration services, using portals from Alien Technology, handheld readers from Nordic ID, and readers from Advanced ID in the kiosks and POS terminals. Creativesystems is emerging as an integration leader for item-level systems in Portugal, having previously worked with Throttleman for apparel tracking in retail (see TAGSYS Announces Two Apparel RFID Deployments) and Vicaima for production tracking (see Alien Looks to Channel, Non-Mandate RFID Adoption).

Byblos plans to open four more RFID-enabled superstores this year and five in 2009. The range of applications and scale of the Lisbon project set the system apart from other retail item-level programs according to Vue's Adams. Vue has also provided item-level tagging systems for the aforementioned BGN and Germany's METRO Group, who last year emerged as the leading RFID adopter for retail (see METRO Unveils Warehouse-to-Checkout RFID System).

Read the announcement from Vue Technology
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