Fashion retailers use virtual shielding to overcome RFID string reading
Over the past two years, British clothing company Superdry has deployed a RFID system in a strategic way to ensure that dozens of stores can use RFID to achieve the required effectiveness before the system is used in all stores. Therefore, after solving the problems associated with early serial reads, the company is now entering the next stage: deploying UHF RFID technology in its 200 stores worldwide this year.
A few years ago, in order to improve inventory accuracy, Superdry first studied RFID technology, and then deployed the system in its 37 stores. Currently, this solution has been deployed to all its stores in the UK. In 2018, it signed up with Nedap's !D Cloud solution, which modified the use of RFID technology.
Superdry's fashion brands focus on modern styles, dominated by retro American and Japanese graphics, blending British style, with 515 brand stores in 46 countries and operating on 21 websites. Like other brand retailers, Superdry seeks to improve the accuracy of its inventory-not only to ensure that products are in stock on the shelves of its stores, but also to ensure that they can be ordered online and shipped to customers from the nearest store inventory .
However, Superdry found that the system had defects after implementing the first version of the RFID system. For example, when a sales assistant reads an RFID tag from the store site, it reads information that is not needed in the warehouse. In order to solve this problem, the company adopted shielding technology to prevent the acquisition of serial read data, thereby improving the accuracy of tracking the time when tagged items are transferred from the warehouse to the sales floor.
However, even with metal paint shielding, serial read data still makes the system less reliable. In order to reduce the probability of string reading, the staff reduced the power of the handheld RFID reader; but as the reader power decreased, the staff must be very close to the tag to obtain data, which caused each store to spend about two Inventory inventory is performed within half an hour, which is inefficient.
Nick Markwell, Nedap !D Cloud UK business director, said: “Initially, the shielding problem was a huge challenge for Superdry stores that have deployed RFID systems; if this problem is not solved, they will not be able to achieve the full convenience of RFID.” Superdry Executive manager James Eastwood added that although the system has been launched in 37 stores, the company decided to suspend the full launch "to reflect on the solutions available on the market."
Eastwood recalled that Superdry's RFID team needed to ensure that it chose a technology solution suitable for long-term development. Based on the shortcomings of the previously deployed RFID system, Superdry conducted a complete proposal request and then selected Nedap as its long-term partner. The new solution relies on Nedap's !D Cloud software and uses Zebra's RFD 8500 handheld reader, which is the same handheld device that previously read tag data from the store. The company also uses Avery Dennison's printers in its distribution center to label any unlabeled goods received from suppliers.
Eastwood said Nedap's initial appeal lies in its virtual shielding solution. The aluminum foil lining and metal paint coating that the company used to shield the warehouse and the sales floor are not only expensive, but also ineffective, and can cause damage to the store. Therefore, with virtual shielding, physical shielding is no longer necessary.
Virtual shielding is a feature in the D Cloud solution. It reads data through RFID to determine the sub-location of the tag response received by the reader in the storage area. For example, after reading the data, the software can determine the position of the tag at the time of reading, thereby eliminating the string reading of the rear warehouse tag when the reader reads the tag in the front store.
Markwell said frankly: "The industry has always denied the feasibility of accurately determining the location of a single label without physical shielding." However, Nedap has cracked this code. This has significantly improved the return on investment of RFID projects, making RFID economically acceptable to more retailers. Eastwood said that with Nedap's virtual shield, Superdry's stores can complete the inventory count in about 25 minutes, which previously required several hours to complete. Nedap! D Cloud software can track all the work processes of store staff in the store, such as inventory counting and confirming which goods need to be replenished from the warehouse.
Workers can use the !D Cloud application on the handheld device to access data, such as viewing the list of products that need to be moved from the warehouse to the sales floor. They can then view the location and availability of specific stock units and related products (such as products of the same size but different colors) in the store on the app. In addition, Markwell explained that if the store lacks the product specified by the customer, D Cloud can help identify where nearby products are available in stock.
To facilitate management, D Cloud software provides real-time inventory and sales status of the entire company or region, so that it can better make decisions related to the inventory of each store. This software uses the GS1 Standard Electronic Product Code Information Service (EPCIS) to store all read transactions.
Eastwood explained, "RFID provides the accuracy of store inventory, which allows us to maintain effective replenishment efficiency," but also as a future need for accurate inventory feedback (such as obtaining "click and collect" from the store or complete the sale in the store) Services provide basic support. Eastwood also said that another biggest benefit of RFID is to ensure the availability of products in the sales area to maximize sales. "In the future, we hope to use RFID to track the circulation of products throughout the supply chain. This will enable the company to Make decisions about inventory management early. The data collected will provide critical decision data for managing products in the most effective way."
Markwell mentioned that when Superdry approached Nedap, the company already had a good understanding of RFID technology and its use in business. "Therefore, our team needs to keep up with the pace of business development very quickly to ensure that we stand on the same level and work together towards the same goal. This is very important." He emphasized that Superdry is a fast-growing company There is a clear strategic roadmap for how to use RFID technology now and in the future. Therefore, Nedap has always focused on achieving successful and rapid RFID deployment, and maximizing its return on investment.
Markwell said: "Strategic partnerships with customers, such as Superdry, etc., help us realize the direct benefits of RFID, but also promote us to develop the future! D Cloud solutions." He said that the development of RFID strategic roadmap means They have a clear direction in their efforts to achieve their goals.
Superdry is expected to complete the first demonstration of RFID in all stores around the world in October this year, and preliminary deployment in the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States. Eastwood mentioned in the report, "We are still committed to the initial plan to deploy RFID to all our stores in 2019."
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