THE RFID PROJECT FOR SHOPS

In addition to the applications related to logistics and distribution, RFID is an excellent opportunity for shop owners because it can improve work dynamics, serve as an anti shoplifting system, and improve customers’ shopping experience, i.e. the way consumers interact with the products they want to buy.
To this end, based on our experience in our warehouses, we at l&tc have developed a project specific for retailers.
The project
The idea to apply RFID to shops stems from our management, who, after implementing this technology in our warehouses, understood the importance of extending it to all operators in the supply chain to take a leap forwards in terms of competitiveness and exploit all its advantages.
This way, the focus shifted to the last link of the distribution chain, i.e. shops.
Providing your shop with the RFID technology means ensuring benefits for all the players involved in the creation, distribution, and sale of the end products.
In 2011, after a feasibility study, our IT experts, in collaboration with a spin-off of the University of Siena, started to work on a project specific for outlets, which has now become applicable.
In 2013, we completed the start-up stage and presented the project to important retail companies that were fascinated by the potential offered.
The main goal is to manage all the stages of a product’s life cycle in the shop (from when it arrives to when it leaves the shop). And today, we can do just that!
To be sure that everything works we need to provide outlets with RFID hardware and software components.
Hardware components:
A PC connected to a data server from which to manage the software

An RFID PDA

An access point that allows the wireless connection
between the PDA and the PC

A reader at the entrance

A reader on the cash desk

A reader at the exit

A tag for every single product
Software Components
A management program devised by our technicians.
With these components, we can act inside the shop on 3 levels:
  1. Acquire data of incoming goods
  2. Monitor activities inside the shop
  3. Monitor sales and outgoing checks

The advantages of RFID compared to an ordinary barcode are exponential:

ACQUISITION OF INCOMING GOODS
During this stage, it is important to check that the right shipment was received and enter every piece in the management software of the shop controlled by the RFID system.The operator who receives the shipment must check its correctness passing the PDA around the surface of the packages. This way, it is quick and easy to check (without opening the package) that the number and quality of the pieces received conforms with that expected (and declared in the transport document) while entering each piece in the shop’s management software, thereby saving time.
Activities inside the shop
In outlets equipped with our RFID system, you can carry out the following activities:
A) Inventory
Inventory operations can be carried out in two ways:
1) The operator goes around the shop holding the PDA to read the actual stock in every area where the products are displayed. The readout can be performed by simply bringing the PDA at distance of at least 1 metre from each garment in the shop.
2) The second option involves the strategic installation of antennas (connected to the readers) on the shelves where the products are displayed. This option is clearly faster for acquiring inventory data, because it doesn’t require an operator to move around the shop. But it does need antennas located conveniently to cover every single area.
After acquiring the data of all the goods in the shop, the inventory will be automatically updated based on the acquisition of incoming and outgoing goods (see sales and outgoing checks).
B) Monitoring of movements inside the shop
Our RFID project allows you to monitor all the movements of every single product inside the shop.
To obtain these data, you need to implement a shelf antenna system that covers the entire sales area of the shop, and install reading antennas even inside the fitting rooms.
By cross-referencing these readout data, we can monitor and assess (through a statistics systems) the various movements of each piece inside the shop. For example, you can see how many times a product has been picked from the shelf, how many times it was tried on, and its purchase rate compared to the number of times it was tried on.
SALES AND OUTGOING CHECKS
The third operation enabled by our RFID system is monitoring the outgoing products with an anti-shoplifting system.
These operations require two types of readers:
  • the first is an antenna to be installed at the cash desk
  • the second is a “gate/barrier” at the exit
When a product is purchased and is about to leave the shop, it has to be removed from the management software.
For this reason, we have developed a specific antenna to be positioned on the cash desk. This antenna detects the outgoing tags and removes them from the system once the customer has paid. As a result, there will be a moment during which the tags of the purchased products will be seen by the readers as products that are actually inside the shop but removed from the management software, which regulates inventory operations. In this case, the customer can leave the shop with the products she purchased.
In the event of a theft attempt, the product tag will be visible to all readers, which will signal the abnormal presence of the product near the exit and will set off an audible alarm. In other words, if the product leaving the shop was removed from the system through the cash desk antenna, everything will go smoothly; otherwise the anti-shoplifting device will be activated.
In addition to these basic functions, RFID can improve customers’ shopping experience in many ways. Information totems are a perfect example. These totems are equipped with antennas that read the tag on the garment and provide customers with all its related information, such as where it was made, with which materials, available colours, and so on.
The only limit to RFID applications is your imagination.
It is easy to predict that RFID is the future of the distribution chain even in the world of fashion and all shops should equip themselves with these structures in the years to come to better manage goods and their data.
As of yet, not everyone has understood the importance of stepping ahead of the competition. This is why our RFID project is an important opportunity for making your company grow, increasing know-how, improving management processes, and acquiring a competitive advantage, which will be critical during the planning, research, and productivity stages.
Contact us and we’ll evaluate all the possibilities for your business together!