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RFID Boosts Store Turnover by Nearly 10 Percent in Italian Pilot

A study conducted by the University of Parma's RFID Lab, working with a retailer, apparel suppliers and logistics providers in Italy, reveals significant benefits throughout the supply chain.
By Mark Roberti
The researchers tagged 827 styles of garments that were displayed on hangars within the store, 336 styles that were folded and displayed on store shelves, 50 styles of shoes and 43 styles of footwear and leather goods. Each tag was encoded with a unique ID number associated with the product characteristics of the particular item to which the tag was attached, including its model, size, color and price.

At Miroglio Fashion's DC, the items were placed in boxes or hung on racks, and were then shipped to an Elena Mirò store in Fidenza Village Outlet, located just outside of Parma. Using either a fixed RFID reader from Impinj, or a Skeye handheld RFID interrogator, workers identified items as they left the DC to check whether they precisely matched the store's order request—something not currently done as part the retailer's supply chain process (without RFID). Productivity in shipping and receiving processes improved by 80 percent with RFID, while shipping accuracy increased by 8.6 percent.

Miroglio Fashion normally takes a physical inventory count within its stores once each season. The company maintains inventory by counting the total number of items received at the store (it does not track the quantity of each style received), and by comparing expected inventory on hand minus sales.

For the pilot, each individual item received at the store's back room was read using either the handheld unit or a fixed Impinj reader installed at the doorway to the sales floor (on the sales floor side of the door). Before the store opened, employees indicated on a touch screen that they were receiving goods, then rolled a rack through the portal and checked the tag reads against what was shipped. Store inventory was then updated accordingly. Each time an item was replenished, its tag was read as it passed by the Impinj reader on its way to the sales floor.

According to Rizzi, regular inventory counts were performed in the store using a fixed Impinj reader adapted to work like a handheld (the interrogator was hooked up to a battery and put in a knapsack, and a handle was mounted to an antenna cabled to the reader), because the handheld's processing power was too slow when reading thousands of tags. Tagged items were also read in four fitting rooms by two fixed Impinj readers, each driving two antennas. The antennas were installed in the fitting-room walls, in order to collect data regarding which items were tried on.

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