Retail Item Level RFID, Winds of Change

February 12, 2010

In one of my sales calls, I got an interesting objection this week that I wanted to share. The customer would like to look into trying item level RFID for the store but his warehouse people aren’t interested..  So this got me thinking, what does the warehouse have to do with the entire process?  What part of the process is going to change for them?   And from my perspective the answer is nothing to start.

Let’s look at the two ways company apply tags to their apparel. The first way is the goods are tagged at source.  Even if the tag is an RFID tag, the warehouse can proceed in the same manner.   In an Item Level RFID pilot with Overheer Reflect, the tag still has the bar code on it.  The tag that is applied by the supplier has all the same information that it had before, only now it has an RFID unique tag number attached to it. This way retailers can gain the inventory visibility they don’t have on the store floor, but their bar coding inventory system is not disrupted..  The warehouse will allocate their goods in the same manner and are unaffected.

The second way goods are tagged is directly at the warehouse.  These tags will either be printed by a service bureau or in the warehouse itself.   In the same way that takes place now, the warehouse will apply the tags to the garments.  The printing process may change a little as now they have to apply an RFID tag but in essence it’s the same thing.  Tags are applied; goods are sorted and sent out to the stores.  Again there is no difference in the way that the warehouse will conduct its business.

Is an RFID tag the same price as a barcode label?  Of course it isn’t, but the benefits in increased sales will more than pay for the increase in tags.  The reason isn’t that RFID costs more, but that people are worried about what the implications will be on their current business practices.  But guess what, until you get a pilot going, how are you able to tell?   There are so many benefits to this technology that it may just be worth taking six months and finding out how RFID will benefit your business .

For more information on how you can start an RFID pilot, please visit www.overheer.com.  My name is Dan Sandler and I’m Overheer.

You want to try Item level RFID, now what?

January 5, 2010

You are interested in item level RFID and you want to start a pilot.  That’s great news!!! But now what? You have three things to think about, hardware, software and integration.  The best thing to do is try and keep things as simple as possible so you can keep costs down and get meaningful data quickly.

The first decision, what am I even going to tag?  You have a full store of different kinds of apparel.  There could be Men’s Apparel, Ladies Apparel, Shoes and Accessories all in one place.   Choose a category where you will see the most benefit.  One that I think works well is Men’s or Ladies denim.      There are several different sizes, fits and washes, so it’s quite hard to keep track of manually.  It’s also a basic item which you will always have in your stores, and it’s an item that is always moving around the store.  People will take many pairs of jeans to try on and maybe buy one or two.   This is the perfect solution for item level RFID as on a much more frequent basis you can gain better visibility into what’s going on with the product.   It is also easy to isolate denim from the rest of the items in your store as the things I mentioned above make it unique too.   This will give you some good metrics that you can use to determine that item level RFID is beneficial to your store.

The second decision, what hardware am I going to use?   There are so many different options; some require heavy investment in infrastructure.  Why would you want to make a large investment in something that you have yet to test?   That’s why I recommend mobile readers.  They are inexpensive, require no network infrastructure except a wireless router and can work all over the store.  That’s why I also recommend a hosted solution vs. having your own server.  Again, this is a pilot, so get something that is ready to start using the day you are ready to start piloting. Keep the pilot as simple as possible on the hardware side.

The third decision, how am I going to make these decisions?  That’s an easy one, get someone in who knows.  An item level RFID consultant is critical in this situation. They are an expert in the area and will help you identify the right success factors for your organization.  The ones that will help you improve your current practices and make item level RFID a success for your business.

These three decisions are critical in getting your pilot up and running.  Of course, please check out my website at www.overheer.com to get more information on how we can make this kind of pilot successful for your business.

My name is Dan Sandler and I’m Overheer.

Retail Item Level RFID, Inventory and the holiday season

November 24, 2009

The theme of this holiday season is inventory management.  Retailers have decided to avoid the significant markdowns they offered last year by carrying a lot less inventory.  Retailers will be able to maintain high margins, but many customers will be turned away as items will just not be available.  In fact I even read a quote encouraging shoppers to get their shopping done now, because if they wait, there will just be no availability.  In the short term, this solution is viable, but in the long term will be very harmful to the retailer.   They are going to need another solution to better manage their inventory and that solution is item level RFID in the store.

A key component of item level RFID is being able to maintain or reduce the amount of inventory and guarantee availability.  This is achieved by having better inventory visibility.   With item level RFID, you are able to get data on what  is happening with inventory in the store.  The only way inventory will be sold is if its on the store floor where it belongs.  Replenishment  becomes a much more exact science as the retailer is able to determine what they have on the floor and what they don’t have. This even becomes available as a  store to store transfer application if one store has an abundance of one product while another one has very little.  Having the inventory in the right place at the right time to sell is critical for a retailer and item level RFID can help them reduce out of stocks and increase availability.

So rather than reducing inventory and telling customers to hurry to avoid out of stocks, the retailer can actually do this job for them by getting better visibility into their inventory. They will be able to reduce markdowns, and have better product availability which in turn leads to an increase in sales and higher customer satisfaction.

My name is Dan Sandler and I’m Overheer.

Retail Item Level RFID,Thin will make you grin.

June 26, 2009

Why Thin Makes Me Grin :)

We have a special guest blogger today, President of Overheer Systems, Phil Lassner.  Take it away Phil….

In my discussions with retailers, I keep hearing a recurring theme. Fixed readers, lots of antennas, lots of dollars.  However, with an Overheer Systems Pilot, that is just not the case.

Overheer’s Reflect system brings efficient, thin, and focused architecture, to Item Level RFID Retail.

Reflect has pin pointed two key data points to quickly get retailers capturing benefits from RFID.  From current ticket files to smart POS checkout files, Overheer’s Reflect application easily integrates with your retail chain.  Immediately have your chain gain visibility into the each store.

Find lost or misplaced articles at the touch of a button.  How many times have you been told by a store clerk that their computer indicates there are two of your items remaining in the store but they are unable to find them.  Reflect can guide your staff easily to misplaced articles. Get your articles back on the sales floor immediately.

Loss and theft can be addressed with Reflect by Overheer’s systems. Whether it’s through analysis of inventory movement or unpaid articles leaving your premises, Overheer’s Reflect application will show you what’s happening with your inventory.

Reflect focused on a plug and play model to bring retailers the ability to find out what they have, or more importantly, what they don’t have – EASILY with minimal integration costs.

My name is Phil Lassner, and I’m Overheer.

http://www.overheer.com

Follow us on twitter  at plassner or danwork22

Retail Item Level RFID, Apparel Basics

June 4, 2009

What are the uses for item level RFID in retail apparel? 

RFID has many different applications for apparel retailers. Each one could take up an entire blog in itself. I think here I will just give a short summary on how each one can be applicable in the store. 

The first one and probably the most important is of course better inventory management. Knowing what you have on the retail floor and of course what you don’t have on the retail floor is critical in increasing sales. Customers don’t want to wait for their product. If its not there when they want it, they will go get it somewhere else. By using RFID and doing regular inventory counts , you can ensure you have adequate product in the store so when the customer walks in, they can get what they need. 

Another critical application is location. Knowing where items are located helps retailers increase sales. Its great to have inventory in the store, but if its lost or its in the stock room instead of the floor, it represents yet another lost sale. By using item level RFID tags, location of items can be determined. This is where the idea of smart shelving comes into play, so an item can be pinpointed exactly. This way if a customer does ask for an item an associate can not only determine if they have one, but its exact location. This represents another sale gained for the retailer. 

A third application for RFID in the store is loss prevention. Although many retailers have this application in stores already using other types of systems, it can be done with RFID as well. The idea of having one tag that can do all of the applications is something very attractive to retailers. It makes for a good appearance on the garment, plus further investment in infastructure for stores is unnecessary. By doing inventory counts, one could also cross reference if something is not sold and is missing from the store. Stolen items can be accounted for quickly and replaced in order to prevent further lost sales.  Also find out if your item is last scanned leaving the front door or the rear door.

My name is Dan Sandler and I’m Overheer. For further information, please email me at dan@overheer.com. Follow me on twitter at danwork22

What are your thoughts on Item Level RFID in retail?

April 24, 2009

To me item level RFID in apparel is about to break open.  The early adopters have jumped on board, and the others are patiently watching to see what ‘s going to happen next.  Of course no one predicted the downturn of 2008-2009, but RFID has the potential to save retailers so much money and time, that how can they ignore it? Even when times are tough, sales can be increased by using item level RFID.   When you google Item Level RFID, you get articles from 2005.  Where are the articles from today?  Where are the blogs even?  I’d like to hear what you are thinking if you are working in retail currently.   Who are the players?

See Ya,

Dan Sandler

http://www.overheer.com


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