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KissAFrog Leaps into RFID

The online seller of luxury fashions and accessories hopes that tagging its merchandise will lead to improved inventory visibility—and make certain the goods its customers purchase are in stock.
By Rhea Wessel
Feb 23, 2010Online merchants live and die by their customer-satisfaction ratings. Trends & Brands GmbH, which claims to be one of eBay's top "power sellers" worldwide, is implementing radio frequency identification to improve its inventory accuracy and keep those ratings high.

Trends & Brands operates KissAFrog, a seller of other retailers' overstocked luxury fashions and accessories. "Online customers demand that the goods they order are available," says Ali Abbassi, Trends & Brands' CEO and founder. "In our outlet stores, it's easier to break the news to a customer if we don't have garments in the right size or color."

Trends & Brands uses its four outlet stores in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia as warehouses, in addition to its distribution center in Bonn. When the firm advertises an item online—that is, on its Web site, or via eBay—Trends & Brands must know for sure that the product being promoted is in its warehouse or at an outlet store. This requires that accurate data be maintained regarding goods received into and shipped out of the company's facilities.

At present, Trends & Brands tracks incoming and outgoing goods via a scanner that reads each item's bar-coded EAN label, and also conducts inventory once every year, in January. The inventory process takes about 45 employee-hours using bar-code scanners. But the resulting data is unreliable, Abbassi says, because the process is undertaken infrequently, and is ridden with errors made by workers using bar-code scanners.

In early 2009, while in talks with a company regarding RFID-based customer loyalty cards, Abbassi began exploring the idea of implementing RFID to improve its internal processes. While researching the technology, he came across RF-iT Solutions, an RFID systems integrator and software developer based in Graz, Austria, and specializing in the retail sector.

RF-iT Solutions designed the application for Trends & Brands, and helped the firm to secure assistance from ProZeus, a government program that provides advice and expertise about how to improve business processes and cooperation between companies. ProZeus contributed 50 man-days to the project, in which Trends & Brands is investing €70,000 ($95,000).

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