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Sportswear Retailers Gain Home Run With RFID

Stadium AB and Lids, both using a UHF RFID-based solution from SML, report on how the technology boosted inventory accuracy under the highly diverse, high-pressure environment of sportswear and sporting goods sales.
By Claire Swedberg
May 06, 2018

Lids and Stadium AB are among the sports-related retailers that have benefitted from using radio frequency identification technology to manage fast-moving inventory that must keep up with sports equipment and seasonal trends. Lids conducted an RFID project to determine whether it could better manage its merchandise following the World Series in the winning city (Houston), while Stadium AB, located in Sweden, carried out an RFID pilot to manage fast rotations of products ranging from kayaks to apparel to shoe laces.

The two companies spoke about their projects with Dean Frew, the CTO and senior VP of RFID solutions at SML—the company that provided them with the RFID tag and software technology—at last month's RFID Journal LIVE! 2018 conference an exhibition, held in Orlando, Fla.

Dean Frew
For both projects, Frew says, the companies used Zebra Technologies handheld readers to manage stock counts, execute replenishment and receive goods. SML's Clarity application includes a handheld device and cloud-based platform. Both deployments employed Microsoft Azure, managed by SML, for its cloud-based delivery service platform.

Lids, headquartered in Zionsville, Ind., sells professional and college team athletic goods for fans—whether for the NFL, NBA, NHL or MLB. The company must meet heavy demands before and during specific seasons, and this ramps up further around major competitions like the Super Bowl and the World Series. The company operates 1,200 stores throughout the United States and Canada, and sells 170,000 stock-keeping units (SKUs), for a total of 43 million units sold annually.

A sizable percentage of those sales are centered around large sporting events. Therefore, the seasonal demands for products regarding these events can be overwhelming, says Greg Czerpak, Lids' senior VP of merchandising. The retailer must be able to follow the trends for each sport during every season, and quickly route team-specific products to stores at the place and time for which demand is expected to be high.

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