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On the Trail of Hush Puppies

Indexport, S.A., the manufacturer and distributor of Hush Puppies footwear, employs RFID to accurately and precisely manage its real-time stock at its Spanish distribution center in Castellón. The system enables the company to efficiently fill customer orders and avoid stock-outs.
Apr 05, 2009—00000">This case study is excerpted from the book RFID Projects, published in English and Spanish by RFID Magazine ($49). The book features 13 case studies from various sectors, including photographs and explanatory graphics for each. For more information, visit www.rfid-projects.com (English) or www.proyectosrfid.com (Spanish).

Apr. 6, 2009—Indexport, S.A., is the licensed manufacturer and distributor of Hush Puppies in Spain, through its own network of stores and as a supplier of multi-brand and department stores, such as El Corte Inglés. Hush Puppies footwear is extremely comfortable, and comes in both casual and formal styles for all ages and customers (men, ladies and children). The company's philosophy is that all Hush Puppies shoes should be fun, comfortable and authentic, whether they are for business or pleasure. Thanks to the combination of advanced comfort technologies with a carefree and fashionable style, the company has remained timeless.

The brand name Hush Puppies dates back to 1958, when Jim Muir, a sales manager for the company, was served deep-fried cornmeal balls called "hush puppies." Curious, he asked the client about the origin of the name and was told that the food was often used as a treat to quiet barking dogs. As English-speakers often refer to sore feet as "barking dogs," Muir thought this would be an ideal name for the new line of comfortable shoes he was envisioning.

Indexport needed a technology that would automate and streamline existing processes and step up productivity at its stores that sell Hush Puppies footwear.

In 1994, Hush Puppies spun off as its own brand and became a division of Wolverine. It was precisely that year when sales of the brand took off. This spectacular growth continues today, as Hush Puppies is one of the best-known footwear brands in the world. Hush Puppies is present in more than 150 countries, including Albania, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Botswana, Canada, Germany and the United States. In Spain, there are eight company-owned stores, and the brand is sold all El Corte Inglés stores. Indexport is the exclusive distributor of Hush Puppies products in Spain.

Due to the handling, visual verification and manual entry required in certain logistics processes prior to entering articles in the IT system (i.e., purchase orders and customer returns are verified visually upon reception), the company did not have real-time stock availability information. In certain cases, information on availability was not fully accurate, which led to errors in receiving orders, as the management software information did not coincide with the actual flow of materials.

It was necessary to implement a technology that would automate and streamline current processes and step up productivity. Although bar codes could be used to identify all products, accuracy and precision would not be as good as with RFID. In addition, bar codes would need to be scanned on an item-by-item basis, making it necessary to have the product within sight. RFID technology addressed the issues of visibility, reading capacity and single identification. Once it was clear that RFID was the optimal solution, the company needed to conduct an in-depth study of its implementation.

The manual paper-based processes that led to human error needed to be eliminated completely, as this undermined the company's efficiency, especially in terms of availability and logistical management of products distributed. Before specific decisions could be made to improve the company's processes, it was important to measure and analyze all procedures. The precise situation of the company needed to be determined.
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