#RBTE2018: M&S advises RFID is ‘no miracle cure’

Richard Jenkins, head of loss prevention and RFID at Marks & Spencer, has warned that retailers should not view RFID as a “miracle cure”.

Jenkins is an advocate of RFID technology but believes some implement it without a clear idea of the problem they are trying to solve.

“RFID has been something of a niche and novelty previously in retail, but now there is a competitive disadvantage in not doing it,” said Jenkins at RBTE. “This is not a miracle cure for all the ills and challenges a retailer faces in the modern world.

“The question I ask anyone is what is the problem they are trying to solve, and often there is not one and they are just wanting to use it because they think it is sexier than using a barcode.”

Jenkins says the fundamental reason for RFID is making sure the right product is in the right store when it needs to be, which helps prevent markdowns and boosts the bottom line.

He said: “Nothing pisses customers off more than finding the only size they want is not in stock and they are increasingly intolerant of that happening.”

RFID provides M&S with a 40-50% improvement in its accuracy of matching the stock it believes it has and the stock it actually has in any given location.

Jonathan Aitken, the director of RFID and digital partnership at tech provider Avery Denisson revealed how his former employer Lululemon has revolutionised its operation using RFID.

“We had an average of 250 items out of stock but in store at any one time and the store associates thought they were doing a pretty good job,” said Aitken. “Now that number is less than 10 after the introduction of RFID.”

Lululemon is yet to introduce RFID to Europe but in North America it is able to see down to the last unit where every single product is located, and the system is updated every five minutes.