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An RFID Fashion Statement

Switzerland's Charles Voegele Group discovers that fashions tracked and managed via RFID are always in style.
By John Edwards
Jul 27, 2009—On April 29, RFID Journal presented the third annual RFID Journal Awards to four companies for outstanding achievement in radio frequency identification technology at RFID Journal LIVE! 2009, the seventh annual conference and exhibition. The winners were:

Charles Vögele Group for best RFID implementation

Focus Magazine for most innovative use of RFID

Vail Resorts for best use of RFID in a service

ODIN Technologies for best in show

Best RFID Implementation: Charles Vögele Group
While Switzerland isn't considered one of the fashion capitals of the world, it is known for its commitment to product design and construction. Now it's on the map as the place where fashion and technology converge, thanks to a "Swiss-made" item-level RFID system developed by fashion retailer Charles Vögele Group.


Charles Vögele believed that item-level information would provide a base for competitive advantage, increasing sales rates and decreasing supply-chain costs.

Based in Pfäffikon, near Zürich, Charles Vögele is active in international retail clothing markets, operating subsidiaries in Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland and Slovenia. The company specializes in women's, men's and children's collections, which are produced by external suppliers in various countries in Southeast Asia and Europe. "In our stores, with minor exceptions in Switzerland, we have purely 100 percent private label," says Thomas Beckmann, VP of group supply-chain management for Charles Vögele. "Everything is designed by ourselves and was produced according to our orders."

The RFID system that places Charles Vögele on the leading edge of supply-chain technology tracks individual garments as they move around the world. "It's the first time ever that RFID has been used to do end-to-end item-level tracking—from tagging in Asia all the way to the stores in Slovenia," says Prasad Putta, VP and general manager of merchandise visibility solutions for Checkpoint Systems, the RFID technology provider that helped Charles Vögele develop its system.

Like a growing number of retail businesses, particularly those carrying high-value items, Charles Vögele was intrigued by the idea of using RFID to track products on an item-level basis. The technology promised to give the company visibility into key supply-chain steps, while providing fuller control over inventory and store stocks.

After pondering the matter, Charles Vögele soon found itself focusing on a single, fundamental idea. "We believed that item-level information would facilitate better information and process development in our entire supply chain," Beckmann says. "That would provide a base for competitive advantage, which could increase sales rates and decrease supply-chain costs."
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