We are a software house in Brazil with a client that wants to use RFID in its clothing retail chain. Can you tell us how retailers are using the technology to track clothing in stores, and where benefits are being achieved?
Deploying RFID in a clothing store is easy and straightforward. Avery Dennison and other companies offer services enabling a business to purchase hangtags with the appropriate item, bar code and pricing information on them, and with an RFID transponder embedded in each tag. A retailer's suppliers can put these tags on clothes before shipping them. It is useful, but not absolutely vital, to have the supplier scan the tags before shipping. That way, the retailer can confirm that the right items are being shipped.
When the items arrive at the retailer's distribution center (DC), the tags can be read in seconds, saving the labor involved in counting items and matching them against a purchase order. Tags can be used to pick items from the DC by utilizing a handheld interrogator to choose the appropriate items, or to verify that the correct items have been picked before sending them to the store.
When goods arrive at the store, they are received into inventory with either a handheld or portal reader, thus saving labor. Readers need to be set up at a station at which goods are prepared before being moved to the sales floor, and there should also be an interrogator between the back of the store and the retail sales floor, to confirm that the right items have been moved out to the floor. Handheld readers can be used to take inventory on the floor two or three times a week. This increases inventory accuracy from 60 percent (on average) to more than 95 percent, and leads to an increase in sales of 5 percent to 10 percent. You can place readers at the point of sale to confirm which items have been sold.
Your software application then needs to simply interface with the retailer's existing inventory-management system. When goods are received, inventory is updated. And when the items' tags are read while those goods are being moved to the sales floor, inventory is updated once more. Staff members can use handheld RFID interrogators to take inventory on the sales floor. Inventory is thus updated, and a report is generated regarding which items require replenishment.
We have created a Fashion ROI Calculator that enables a retailer to estimate the labor savings and sales increase from RFID. We will debut the calculator at our RFID in Fashion event, being held this week in New York City.
—Mark Roberti, Editor, RFID Journal
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