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Lord & Taylor Tags Shoes, Boosts Sales

By attaching EPC Gen 2 RFID tags to shoes displayed on its sales floor, the retailer can ensure that customers can see every shoe style it sells.
By Claire Swedberg and Mark Roberti
Nov 02, 2011Since deploying radio frequency identification at six of its U.S. stores to track inventory on its shoe displays, Lord & Taylor has seen a significant increase in sales, according to Dan Smith, the CIO of Hudson's Bay Co. and Lord & Taylor. The technology is helping the national apparel retailer to ensure that merchandise is available on its store shelves, and that the products are restocked in a timely manner, due to inventory visibility provided by RFID tags placed on footwear, as well as handheld readers used by store personnel.

The objective for using RFID, the company reports, is to ensure that every shoe model available in the department's stockroom remains on display on the sales floor, where customers can see them. Typically, when products arrive at a Lord & Taylor store from a distribution center, one pair of each specific shoe style is put on display, while the others are stored in the back room. Sometimes, however, a pair of shoes in a certain style may not appear on the store shelf, or may be sold and not replaced.

Larry Mann, the divisional VP of IT at Hudson's Bay Trading Co.—which operates 47 Lord & Taylor retail stores in the United States, as well as Hudson's Bay Co.'s 279 Zellers, 92 The Bay, 62 Home Outfitters and 196 Fields store locations throughout Canada—described the RFID installation during a webinar that took place last month (Driving Increased Sales Through Display Execution With RFID), sponsored by Motorola Solutions, which provided the readers and integration for the solution being employed by Lord & Taylor.

In January 2011, the company adopted a strategy to increase sales by ensuring that all shoe styles were always on display. Until that time, to ensure that each model of shoe was visible on the sales floor, staff members needed to perform manual inventory checks. However, the workers did not have time to conduct such inventories as frequently as the company would have liked, since the process was labor-intensive, requiring a sales associate to pick up every shoe in order to view and scan its bar-code label.

The company's business team estimated that Lord & Taylor could obtain a multimillion-dollar annual increase in shoe sales if all of its 47 stores could improve the frequency of inventory counts, and thus ensure that customers were aware of which products were available for sale. The firm decided to test RFID as a potential means to achieve this goal, because it believed the technology promised greater accuracy and efficiency, with immediate flexible reporting, than could be achieved using a bar-code system.

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