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How to ensure the availability of goods on the trading floor with RFID

April 22 Chris Doane, head of the department of RFID American Apparel, to share with the participants of the Moscow ID-Forum ( experience in implementing one of the most famous RFID-projects in the retail trade. Today Chris is one of the most respected independent consultants and RFID-founder of his own company Arden Data, which innovates in retail.

Kris_DoanThis interview Chris Downey recorded RFID Arena - look representative retail industry to implement RFID. Purpose of the interview - talk about our RFID network American Apparel in general and discuss how he perceives, how effective is the introduction.

American Apparel - a vertically integrated chain of fashion stores (the vast majority of their own production), which involves the use of tightly closed supply chains.

What was the impetus for the introduction of RFID?

Chris Doane: facing the RFID was due to our leadership positions in the market. Was tasked to ensure the availability of the necessary items on the trading floor. Directly RFID implementation process began with replenishment assortment trading hall, moving goods from a warehouse store shelves in a store. This approach differs from the majority of projects in the trendy retail: often begin to use RFID to achieve a greater level of traceability of the trade item to follow her all the way, from the moment of production, through the distribution center to the shop floor.

What problems were faced by developers ?

Chris Doane: Before the introduction of RFID in American Apparel stores have information about the availability of goods in the store, but there was no evidence, particularly where it is located, in the gym or anywhere else. In American Apparel usually laid out one of each size and color of each model, but without technological support, this task was exigeant. If a black T-shirt size S sold, usually required some time to appear in the new trading floor again. Until unsold shirts gathered dust in the back. The shops were obliged to carry out so-called “ideal replenishment processes, ” which meant ” mapping and comparing ” what should be on the trading floor, this procedure was carried out 2-3 times a week after the store closed. The process itself takes 4-5 hours with the participation of 4-6 employees.

Another problem was inaccurate information about stock levels. It was impossible to keep track of losses, people often make a mistake in counting , the trading floor happened re-grading , all this led to the fact that it was impossible to obtain accurate data on the situation at the moment. Developed new business processes, but it soon became clear that a technology that would ensure availability of the right product in the hall. Some sales consultants have an innate ability to immediately see what is missing on the shelves, but unfortunately, not all have this gift, and it can not be taught. It was necessary to solve the problem of how to replenish shelves quickly and efficiently. After all, as long as the item is not on the trading floor, it will not sell.

From the perspective of retail, what is the charm RFID?Chris Doane : RFID not only solves the technical problems, it also helps in the management of personnel. It allows you to efficiently allocate labor to all the shops network, providing the right balance of staff in their places. RFID  it’s less routine, more interesting problems. When there is no need to perform boring, monotonous operations, such as counting the goods manually salesroom staff are able to focus on their immediate tasks – namely, sales, work with the customer, instead of spending time in the backrooms to work in the warehouse .

I firmly believe that no one is able to ensure the accuracy of the inventory, which is achieved by using RFID. Even solutions based on the barcode can not guarantee accurate data, only approximate values , not to mention the inventory using pen and paper. Data obtained using RFID, for the store manager responsible for internal processes, warehouse manager, or any person responsible for maintaining inventory levels, the accuracy of the accounting data or the movement of goods. RFID – is an indispensable tool for data mining in order to better maintain inventory levels. This technology ensures that each product is in its place, in the store and at the time when and where it should be, which ultimately leads to increased sales. I will never forget the impression produced on the use of RFID ordinary employees shops American Apparel. I am convinced that after you have tried in the RFID, the former warehouse management without this technology seems pointless shifting goods, has no effect on sales.

As RFID- system affects the daily operations ?

Chris Doane: High, more than 90%, the accuracy of data on the status of the warehouse inventory levels of goods – it is a reality today, but before the introduction of RFID in the American Apparel believed that this figure of ” high as much as possible.” In reality, however, had no idea of the exact quantity of goods expressed in a numerical value. Any retailer that does not use RFID, knows only approximate figures on the state of its warehouse. RFID prevents peresortitsu : use of this technology ensures that the goods are in a trading floor exactly where they should be, which means that they will be sold quickly.

RFID eliminates staff from the monotonous routine operations and lets you pay more attention to customers that promotes sales . Peresortitsu on the trading floor is no longer a problem. Situations related to the lack of the right product at the store, is significantly reduced. All these factors together affect the service quality improvemen.

How does the introduction of RFID personnel to work ?

Chris Doane: In recent years in Europe as sales consultants salesroom attract a very young people without much experience or special training. The trendy retail also used a lot of temporary staff. American Apparel has always been at the forefront of street fashion, and the staff were young face of its brand.

But even ten – fifteen years of experience in trade does not mean that the employee knows all about accounting and inventory and does not make mistakes. Inventory – it’s still counting units sold and the number of unavoidable errors due to the notorious “human factor” is not decreasing, despite many years of experience. Reducing errors in the calculation of the goods – the task forces to deal only RFID.

In retail, employees are busy with different levels of competence. But with the help of RFID to inventory at a high level as a highly qualified employee can and a novice with little experience and low competence. This means that it is now truly a valuable worker can handle complex , more demanding tasks .

RFID – a simple technology , it is able to master even the beginner who can be trusted inventory management and you can be sure that he will cope with this task.

A simple example: New York , shop American Apparel, on Thursday, a new employee hired. On Friday, he was trained RFID, on Saturday, he was instructed to replenish the stock of goods on the third day it is fully engaged in their own warehouse.

In another store suddenly resigned experienced worker and coordinator of the warehouse could not find him worthy replacement immediately, but with RFID he could out of the situation, perform professional tasks entrusted to two temporary workers who handled effortlessly.

Usually familiarity with new technology and training – not an easy task, it was especially difficult when just beginning to use RFID. How do you cope with these difficulties?

Need to think carefully about how to train your staff to use RFID, because it is a completely new approach to inventory, the new perception of familiar processes. You have to approach learning with all the responsibility.

Often occurs first rejection, people resist new, they tend to it: life you perform tasks , and now everything has to be different. You must be prepared to confront this resistance.

The key point – a change management system. Management processes must be well controlled. It’s not just training, training. Revise key business processes, such as the interaction between the shops network managers and ordinary employees, both locally and globally. These interactions are based on valid, reliable data, will forever change the processes in your retailer.

RFID: to be or not to be? What advice would you give to anyone thinking about implementing RFID in the fashion industry ?

Chris Doane: I can not imagine anyone in this business who refused to use RFID. Objectively , to date no other way to obtain reliable , accurate data about where at this moment is your item, what he really where you want to be, simply does not exist. If the level tracking commodity unit is important for your business, it’s time to think about the implementation of RFID.

Price tags are not the problem – the technology is ready and set standards . At the beginning of the project at the store employees felt that RFID is wrong all the time, that was the result of the early stage of implementation, but it can not be a significant argument against RFID. RFID helps detect errors faster, and they can be corrected in time, which is impossible in the operations manual. Data loss can be quickly and easily adjusted thanks to one operation performed by a scanner.

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