Brazilian Clothing Wholesaler Invests in RFID

By Edson Perin

One of the country’s largest distributors of baby and children’s apparel, Brascol has cut the average time it takes its customers to check out their purchases by 65 percent.

Brazilian children clothing wholesaler Brascol is tagging the merchandise that retailers buy at its wholesale outlet, and has installed RFID-enabled checkout system to enable faster purchases by those customers. The RFID system, supplied by iTag Technology, relies on RFID tags made with NXP Semiconductors’ Ucode7 UHF chips to quickly identify a shopping cart’s contents.

With the old checkout system, it used to take as long as an hour for the average Brascol customer to process the 500 or so items the customer had loaded into a shopping cart. After Brascol installed the RFID system a few months ago, the amount of time needed to check out 500 items was reduced to 20 minutes.

"This is a huge gain in speed that is directly perceived by customers. We believe this will bring well-being and consequent loyalty of our customers," says Nina Kudagawa, manager of Brascol, which has operated in 25 years Mega Polo Moda Mall, in São Paulo.

An RFID reader located inside the Brascol store lets customers quickly see what is in their carts and how much the merchandise will cost them.

The project’s implementation took into account the best time to get the results. Depending on the volume of products and inventory turnover, the quantity of RFID tags needed could be large, so it was critical to enable a project with payback not exceeding six or eight months. "In recent years, there has been a drastic reduction in the cost of RFID tags and other components, which enabled the customer’s investment in the solution," says Sérgio Gambim, project coordinator and director of ITAG.

Brascol’s Nina Kudagawa

The main business factors that motivated the project, says Kudagawa, are related to Brascol’s objectives of providing quality services and flexibility and more efficient shopping, taking care of its customers welfare. “When the goods being purchased are packed up, they pass through the portal again to see if everything is correct, that all products that should be inside are there. This gives us a guarantee of good service to the clients and makes sure they're taking all what we bought," attests Kudagawa.

During the past three years, Brascol worked with ITAG on the solution’s design, development and processes. "We deliver to our customers large volumes of products every day," says Kudagawa, for whom the challenge is to improve the agility of critical processes, such as the shipment of large volumes.

For the project to achieve its expected financial returns, a critical success factor was to acquire from suppliers and manufacturers products already labeled. With this focus, Brascol negotiated agreements with its suppliers. "We need to have the ability to manage our inventory and to know exactly what was purchased is being received," says Patrícia Cardenaz, Brascol’s purchasing manager and one the project’s coordinators.

Thousands of items in stock are tracked by RFID.

"The accuracy of information allows a better inventory management and control of the whole process. This is one of the best gains that RFID brings to our operation," says Cardenaz. Trade agreements with other links in the supply chain, she says, have made this possible. "As a result, we expect to receive from the manufacturers properly labeled products with RFID, so that we may quickly receive all the merchandise that was purchased."

Brascol’s Patrícia Cardenaz

"We have also facilitated our purchases," says Kudagawa. "As a result, we can ensure that we received the exact quantity of each product and its features. Prior to RFID we knew only the amount. But today we know which colors are available, which ones are the most sought after and which are missing. Then buy the pieces that sell more. "

The portal uses Acura Global’s EDGE-50 UHF RFID reader, which is distinguished by its small size and high performance. Containing a ThingMagic M6e module, the reader supports up to four Acura Global monostatic antennas and communicates via RS-232 or USB with ITAG system.

All equipment is manufactured in Brazil, with systems integration provided by ITAG. The solution offers high performance and can read a large volume of tags in a few seconds, says Gambim.

iTag’s Sérgio Gambim

To take inventory in its store, Brascol staff use the Atid AT870 handheld reader, distributed in Brazil by Acura Global.

At the upcoming RFID Journal LIVE! Brasil conference and exhibition, Antonio Almeida, Brascol’s superintendent, will discuss how his company is using and benefiting from RFID. The event will take place on Sept. 24-25, 2014, at the Espaço APAS convention center, located in São Paulo.