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RFID's Untapped Potential

Analyzing aggregated data can improve our understanding of processes.
By Florian Michahelles and Frédéric Thiesse
Merchandising: Retailers can determine how long items stay on the sales floor. Merchandise that isn't selling can be put on sale and not be reordered. Retailers also can learn which items customers try on together, so they can keep those brands in stock, reducing inventory complexity.

Store layout: By identifying the clothing tried on in particular fitting rooms, retailers can optimize product placement, particularly at the front of the store, increasing sales and customer satisfaction.

Staff allocation: By comparing the apparel customers try on with subsequent sales, retailers can determine the number of employees needed on the sales floor.

The study has shown that analyzing aggregated retail data could have a big impact on a department store's management. Since preconfigured software packages for retail applications do not exist, our analyses were conducted using standard statistics tools.
While employing RFID to improve processes is important, our research shows the technology's biggest potential lies in data analytics, improving our understanding of the processes themselves.

Florian Michahelles is the associate director of the Auto-ID Lab St. Gallen, in Zurich. Frédéric Thiesse is a professor of information systems engineering at the University of Würzburg in Germany, an Auto-ID Lab affiliate.

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