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Fashion brands use scalable reader to improve the security and efficiency of RFID tag reading

  • Author:Lucy
  • Source:RFID world network
  • Release on:2021-01-04
Mark Berryman, project manager of European Union branch of fashion brand Ralph Lauren, didn't like what he saw when he saw the sales staff using RFID reader to check inventory in the back warehouse of Paris branch in 2019.

At that time, he was accompanying RFID consultant John Pierre (JP) Carmel of RFID Sherpas company to visit the company. They watched the sales staff slide the mobile ladder to the right position, climb up to read the goods labels on the 9-foot shelf, then climb down, slide the ladder, and continue to climb up to read.

In order to speed up the inventory process, employees sometimes stretch their hands sideways, or even sit on a ladder to read more labels regardless of danger. 'it's a security issue, it's a time-consuming practice,' Mr. belliman said. 'I have the same idea as Mr. Carmel.'. Carmel has come up with a solution he has developed for other customers in the past year: a scalable device called shelfie stick, designed for RFID tag reading

With the introduction of this solution, Ralph Lauren company saves about 40% of the inventory time and improves the accuracy of tag reading by about 0.7%.

Ralph Lauren began to deploy RFID technology in Europe in 2019. First, he tested the technology in some larger stores, and then extended it to smaller stores all over Europe. This year, all stores have fully deployed the technology. RFID system is used to manage the inventory of front store and back warehouse, and passive UHF RFID tags are pasted at the source.

The company has a zebra 8500 handheld reader in every store, which is used to obtain the unique ID number of the label attached to the goods, which is from Avery Dennison.

One of the challenges for Ralph Lauren's employees to take stock every day is to read the labels of goods stacked on the top shelf. Belliman explains that European stores tend to pile up their back stores with goods from the front stores. In some cases, this means goods are stacked on shelves up to 9 feet, sometimes on the sales floor.

In Europe, it's also challenging to read labels placed on high shelves, because shelves in Europe are mainly made of metal, while shelves in North America and other regions are often made of wood. Metal can cause RF reflection, which makes it more challenging for handheld readers to read UHF RFID tags.

As a result, the label readings did not meet the company's ideal accuracy, especially when mobile ladders were not used. However, with ladders, it could be a safety and health issue, Carmel said. Prior to the visit to Ralph Lauren's Paris store, Carmel had developed shelfie stick for some customers of RFID Sherpas to make it easy to read RFID tags.

In the past, RFID Sherpas only provided consulting services and did not sell hardware, software or tags. "We don't even know who those suppliers are," Carmel said About three years ago, he found that customers were having trouble checking inventory. He visited a local hardware store and came up with a solution to expand the reach of ordinary retail employees, that is, fixing the reader to a simple, retractable stick.

A representative of RFID Sherpas showed the device to a retail customer in the United States, who then asked for 150. Retailers quickly learned about the benefits of shelfie stick in inventory checking. "It's a huge win, not only in terms of health and safety, but also in terms of making inventory count faster," beriman reported Later, he further improved the device, replacing the metal with a composite material to make it easy to carry. The latest version of the device includes a gripper that can be shaken and gripped, thus increasing the possibility of employees successfully reading the labels of all stored items.

Since then, the company has started producing and selling shelfie stick. When fully extended, the device is 60 inches long, so workers can reach 10 foot shelves standing on the floor. Employees need not bend their knees to read the lower shelf so they can also find it. The readers used with the stick are from zebra, Nordic ID and nedap.

Shelfie stick has two different accessories: one is universal, the other is customized for Zebra's 8500 reader, which is customized according to the overall dimensions of the reader. Customers of RFID Sherpas typically buy 60 to hundreds of devices, Mr. Carmel said. Most retailers have a lot of stores, and they basically deploy this kind of equipment. Previously, RFID Sherpas only sold the device to existing customers, but now plans to sell it to the public for about $200 each.

Based on the efficiency and safety of inventory checking, Ralph Lauren realized the return on investment of shelfie sticks in about five weeks, according to belliman. After a pilot in a store, the deployment of this set of equipment does not need to be considered any more and is promoted directly. In this way, the shop assistant can complete the daily inventory in only one hour, sometimes four people count the goods at the same time.

Ralph Lauren has deployed shelfie stick in 65 of its EU stores, which have already introduced RFID technology to improve inventory management. In March this year, the company completed the comprehensive deployment of the program.

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