River Island and Decathlon ramp up RFID usage

Two large European retailers are continuing their wide-scale RFID deployment as they look to the technology to help solve various pain points in their businesses, including inventory management, reducing loss prevention and boosting stock accuracy.

River Island has embarked on an international roll-out of RFID hardware and software in 280 of its stores, following an initial pilot last year.

Using Nedap's !D Cloud technology, the fashion retailer says it has been able to gain a better view of its stock and increase sales due to improved product availability.

The River Island project represents one of the largest RFID implementations with a native cloud application in the fashion retailing world. It is supporting a range of its modern retail services, including ship-from-store, buy online return in store and buy online pickup in store.

Jon Wright, head of global loss prevention & safety at River Island, explained: "In a world of omnichannel, product availability is king.

"Therefore, accurate stock data is vital for us to successfully offer omnichannel services to our customers. We are impressed with how advanced !D Cloud is, yet how little IT effort it takes to implement it, which makes adopting RFID extremely easy. This enables us to focus on the most important part right from the start – raising the stock accuracy in all our stores and gaining full control over our inventory through item-level visibility."

Sports equipment retailer Decathlon, meanwhile, is working with SML Group, which is providing more than 200 million labels per year to the company's global network of vendors. The technology is embedded in stickers and labels sewn into garments during the manufacturing process which subsequently help the retailer manage its inventory and identify missing products via a link to its electronic article surveillance security tags on high value items.

Decathlon's deployment of SML's RFID technology sees a chip programmed with an individual electronic product code number to match the unique product SKU. This item-level tracking has reportedly improved inventory management and ensured better availability of goods.

Like River Island, the system has reportedly helped reduce out-of-stocks and improve customer service.

Solutions provider Embisphere is in charge of Decathlon's RFID label management and ensuring the overall quality of the labels and hardware systems. Nedap is also involved in the project, providing hybrid RF/RFID systems for loss prevention.

Commenting on the partnership behind the Decathlon RFID project, Jerome Lemay, senior project manager of Embisphere, said: "We have efficiently worked together in support of the Decathlon programme and we are pleased to see SML reach the landmark of delivering more than 400 million RFID labels over the past three years.

"We look forward to continuing this journey with SML as we expand the RFID solution to all of the Decathlon products."

A growing number of retailers around the globe are looking to RFID to solve a number of pain points around stock accuracy and security, including Tesco's F&F fashion division, German fashion house Gerry Weber and menswear retailer Gieves & Hawkes.

Commenting on the pages on Essential Retail last year, Andy Robson, supply chain solutions manager at supply chain standards organisation GS1 UK, said RFID can increase availability by enabling faster floor stock counts.

"With a system that knows what stock should be on every shelf, a handheld scanner can be used to quickly identify what's missing," he said.

"Staff can then retrieve exactly what they need from the stock room, which speeds up the entire replenishment process. What's more, because the technology allows staff to count the stock so fast and efficiently, stock takes can now be conducted as often as any business feels is appropriate."