RBTE 2015: RFID in focus

At this week's European retail tech solutions show RBTE, which will take place between 10-11 March at London's Olympia, retail visitors will have an opportunity to visit a dedicated RFID Zone showcasing nine companies that are bringing the technology to the retail sector.

It is the second year in succession that RFID will be featured in such a way at the European show, and on this occasion visiting retailers will also be able to catch up with representatives from BT Global Services, Enso Detego, Impinj, Nordic+, OCS, r-pac, Smartrac, SML Intelligent Inventory Solutions and TRC Solutions.

Essential Retail spoke to Marc Yardley, national business development manager at OCS, to hear what RFID solutions his company can offer the retail industry.

Why are a growing number of retailers realising now is the right time to invest in RFID?

OCS is now working with RF Keeper bringing an RFID solution to life. The new approach by OCS will offer our customers a managed service based on RF Keeper's plug and play RFID solutions. OCS enables retailers to adopt and enjoy RFID benefits with no software integrations, training and changes in working procedures.

What is (or has been) the most impressive use of RFID in retail that you've seen?

The most impressive use of RFID in retail we deployed is a sporting goods chain in the US that carries over 2,000 firearms in some stores. What is amazing is that the overall accuracy of inventory counts within the metallic environment of metal shelving and firearms exceeded 99.5%. Counts are performed everyday saving manpower and ensuring all items are accounted for. That demonstrates that with the right RFID tags and readers a superb accuracy can be achieved, even in harder environments that include perfumes, fashion accessories, watches & jewellery, metal shelving, as well as even firearm displays and stockrooms.

What role does your company play in bringing RFID technology to retailers, and which companies are you working with?

OCS and RFKeeper came up with turn-key solution and managed services programme which minimise the risk of running an RFID project. By offering a unique Plug & Play technology retailers can deploy RFID rapidly without the need for integration to existing systems or investment in IT server infrastructure. OCS and RFKeeper bring the retail market an end-to-end solution that is comprised of 'off-the-shelf' products and services therefore the system can be easily piloted, evaluated and deployed while all solution costs are known to the retail chain from day one. This approach enables retailers to quantify costs and savings and quickly build an return-on-investment model that in most cases is between 6-10 months and justifies the investment.

Everyone's talking about the Internet of Things; what's your definition of this term and how central is RFID in this ultimate drive towards 'a connected world'?

IoT or Internet of Things is the connectivity of sensors and devices to the internet. RFID takes a central part in IoT by identifying each tagged object allowing to perform automated 'item level' management. Even today, OCS and RFKeeper automatically monitor terminals that broadcast to the internet accurate content of shipments that are being collected and analysed in central servers against packing lists. In the near future we'll see more sensors and devices that are connected to the internet – even point of sale systems that transmit all sold items' details.

Tell us what to expect from this year's RFID Zone at RBTE?

This year at the OCS-RFKeeper booth you will be able to see more advanced in-store applications in addition to the "classic" supply chain management and inventory control use cases. We launched new marketing and sales applications that enable retailers to better understand shoppers' behaviour using RFID club membership cards, analyse fitting room statistics and better communicate with shoppers while trying on the items, and lastly, run sophisticated campaigns that are the result of the chain's omnichannel strategy.

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