Many large fashion retail chains have implemented RFID technology into their operations, but what about smaller businesses and fashion boutiques? Yes, they can also benefit from the adoption of an RFID system. In Norway, Front Systems, integration partner of Nordic ID, has worked together with smaller retail store chains Tara - Espen Dronsett, Follestad AS and Høyer AS and enabled them to implement an intuitive RFID system that has helped the retailers reduce manual work whilst benefitting from high stock accuracy.
Tara - Espen Dronsett is an exclusive women's clothing store, located in one of the best shopping streets in Oslo. Follestad AS is an exclusive retail chain with 8 stores selling menswear and womenswear with retail stores located in and around Oslo. Follestad Valkyrien is a store owned by Follestad AS. Høyer AS is a retail chain with about 25 stores located in and around Oslo, Arendal, Larvik, Stavanger and Trondheim.
Big effort – low accuracy
Many smaller retail store chains or standalone boutiques face the challenge of time-consuming and labour intensive manual tasks. This is certainly not an issue for large chains alone. Instead of having their staff busy counting items, retail businesses want to improve operations so that store personnel can spend more time serving customers.
For Tara - Espen Dronsett, Follestad AS and Høyer AS the situation was similar. A lot of time was spent in time-consuming inventory tasks at the stores of the three retailers. Oftentimes taking inventory could take one or even several days and even though a lot of effort was made, the accuracy was not very high. A medium-sized shop may spend 40-60 working hours counting with EAN codes and despite the effort stock accuracy is as low as 60-80 %. Low stock accuracy makes it difficult for the retailers to plan ahead and purchase and order the correct items to avoid out-of stock situations. Some retailers implemented weekly counts of specific product groups or brands instead of counting all items at once, but this generated the same amount of work hours and the stock accuracy remained at a low level.
The major challenge was to find a cost-effective and timesaving system to aid in stock count processes. The system needed to be affordable and easy to integrate into the existing POS (Point of Sale) and backend system. Tara - Espen Dronsett, Follestad, and Høyer wanted to gain better control of their stock whilst ensuring that sales personnel had more time to spend with the customers.
High stock accuracy – less manual work
Tara - Espen Dronsett, Follestad and Høyer stores are now equipped with a fully integrated RFID solution. Included elements were chosen carefully making sure they were reliable, high quality and in the right price segment. After choosing the RFID tags, RFID printers and RFID readers, internal testing was carried out.
The RFID solution was first implemented in two stores: a small and a large store with respectively 1,200 and 8,000 items. After that a rollout into all stores of the chains was carried out. Nowadays the stores of Tara - Espen Dronsett, Follestad AS and Høyer AS are amongst 37 stores in Norway that have taken the RFID solution of integrator Front System into use.
Implementing RFID technology served two concrete purposes: less manual work and higher stock accuracy. The retail stores use RFID technology to keep track of their stock. Items are tagged at arrival at the store. This is done with the help of Zebra RFID printers. Nordic ID Morphic UHF RFID Cross Dipole mobile computers are utilized for stock counts. Høyer AS is the only exception as their items are already tagged in a central warehouse. Nevertheless also Høyer's retail stores have printers located so they can re-tag items in the event of missing tags.
In the beginning, the staff had to get used to the new technology. Some working methods needed to be carried out with a different precision. For example, it happened that duplicates of the same label were printed, duplicated labels were left in the trash even though they were already counted in the stock counts. After these initial mix-ups the store personnel has become more precise in the labelling process.
It did not take long to get used to the technology. This is directly reflected in the amazing results. Stock accuracy is now up to a level of 99% after implementing the RFID solution.
Positive results obtained through RFID
The retail companies have been very pleased with the results they have achieved by implementing RFID. Ken-Ole Olsen, Manager of Follestad Valkyrien (a store of retail chain Follestad AS) wraps it up: "Implementing the RFID solution from Nordic ID and Front Systems has given us an exceptional control over our stock. We are doing a monthly stock count of the store and obtain a 99.9% stock accuracy in just 60-80 minutes each time. Before RFID we used 2 days on a stock count and the accuracy was poor. The RFID system helps us do more precise buying from our vendors and we are always updated when it comes to what is in stock in the different stores."
As of today, the retail stores of Tara - Espen Dronsett, Follestad AS and Høyer AS use RFID technology for stock count purposes in all their stores. Nevertheless, their aim is to use RFID technology in the future also for anti-theft purposes, locating of items and RFID tracking of items in transport.