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Reiss ready to roll out RFID in 2019

Reiss is the latest UK retailer embarking on an RFID project – and it is one that is set to open up multiple opportunities for business improvement, according to CIO Ian James.

The likes of Inditex, River Island and Superdry have already started their own RFID journeys, and now the premium fashion player Reiss is looking to enhance stock accuracy, open up store stock for online fulfilment, and drive customer satisfaction by using the technology.

The project

Back in 2017, soon after James had arrived at Reiss as CIO following spells at Paperchase and Casual Dining Group, a two-store RFID pilot was launched.

“We started looking at the in-store manual processes which our stores have to perform to do their daily or weekly stock count, or to process in-store transfers, and warehouse returns – it was also around gaining visibility for our omnichannel journey,” James says.

“If you look at those as different challenges, RFID provided a solution that enabled us to use technology to enhance all that going forward.”

For Reiss, using RFID is an alternative to deploying basic in-store barcode scanners, and the key driver is to provide the business with as near to real-time stock positioning as possible. This is expected to enable the business to serve customers with confidence and flexibility wherever they choose to buy from the retailer, in the future.

“Ultimately, we hope this will allow us to search for the stock, find the stock, and if there’s one item just down the road we can get it packed up ready for customer collection,” he explains.

“Or we’ll be able to get it delivered from store to home, arrange for it to be click & collected the next day – even if it’s in Edinburgh we’ll be able to fulfil it from there down south if it’s the last one left.”

The project is currently paused for peak trading, with a total of seven stores in the 62-strong portfolio RFID-ed, but Reiss will be “hitting it hard again” from mid-February.

By the middle of 2019, the technology is expected to have been rolled out across the retailer’s UK stores, excluding outlets and what James describes as some of the company’s “more disparate shops in the portfolio”. Wholesale and franchise operations are exempt too, but the CIO suggests the RFID project has been established in such a way there’s no reason why franchisees couldn’t be involved later down the line.

“Predominantly, it’s a stock accuracy, efficiency, stock reconciliation and visibility play for our omnichannel portfolio. That’s what we are trying to achieve.”

The partners

Reiss is using Detego’s RFID solution in the main, but has also tapped into the expertise provided by Retail247 to help further tailor technology and processes to its operations.

Retail247’s resources help manage the project and deployment, and the consultancy also pulled together a store training programme.

Martin Schofield, the former retail systems manager at Burberry and ex-IT & logistics director at Harvey Nichols, who is now CEO of Retail247, says: “We have developed a solution that has been adopted by Reiss for in-store and distribution centre ticket printing and RFID encoding.

“We have also developed a solution that Reiss’s stores use to manage identified stock discrepancies and consolidate to a central stock management function. I’m pleased our combination of change management and technology resource is helping Reiss in its drive towards seamless omnichannel retailing.”

Read more about Reiss’s RFID project and its digital journey under new ownership in an Essential Retail interview with Ian James, to be published later this month

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