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Retail RFID – A closer look at C&A

RFID is stated to be worth an investment, although there is always room for improvement. Let’s see how C&A is handling the predominant trends in the RFID business and what they think about RFID.

In this article, we had a chance to interview an expert who is specialized on RFID among retail industry. Joachim Wilkens, C&A Group's Head of Functional IT, kindly shared his ideas about their current RFID reading systems, and also discussed the systems he would see coming in. C&A is a forerunner in retail RFID implementation as it started running RFID in a large scale in 2012 in their German stores.

The status quo of retail RFID systems is to perform stock operations with mobile computers as it is seen as the most convenient way of doing it. The concept of overhead reading is arriving on the shop floor, and it possesses new kinds of benefits for the user. C&A is aware of this too.

C&A-Saarbruecken

C&A and RFID today

"Our current RFID system is quite simple. We don't use fixed readers on a large scale - we have some installed in our stores at the point of exit, but generally we make everything with mobile readers. We have a software, which creates the stock data for our location and replenishment system. The most remarkable asset of the software is that it does not need to update the stock immediately. It will observe if the items, which were missing in stock takes, would appear in two consecutive stock takes. The stock take is always a valid cycle count as the system gives a threshold of what is expected to be found. Due to this procedure, we do not order merchandises based on a single stock take. This allows us to have our stocks up-to-date and to avoid both out-of-stocks and overstocks, which are the greatest benefits of the whole system. Other benefits that are worth mentioning include stock accuracy. Our stock accuracy is high, which is good for our central location and replenishment system. In stores, we utilize the sales floor and stock room capabilities of our software, which enabled us to reduce the bottlenecks dramatically," explains Wilkens.

taking RFID further at c&a

C&A seems to be quite happy with the current system. But as all the innovations continuously develop, also RFID has taken steps further and the new systems provide new solutions, for example overhead readers. In the supply chain, the extension options are in practice unlimited. Is there room for improvement at the C&A?

"Of course there is. We would like to collegially charge the RFID system to external partners, for example logistics providers and suppliers. We intend to establish a C&A EPC-assessed system where we store all data and all read events in, and where we can share these read events with our supply chain partners. This would streamline our all supply chain operations," he continues.

About the scope of the RFID system, Wilkens states: "Since we piloted the RFID in German C&A's, we are currently using RFID only in Germany. But, we are starting to extend the RFID into France this year. Other countries and more stores are also possible for the future. Our crucial aim in the RFID is to find a way to have the cycle counts done as to-date or to keep the stock accuracy as to-date without harming the selling organization with additional workload. To achieve this, we have to also think about overhead RFID reading systems, which release the staff from inventory operations. Our other aim for RFID is the implementation procedure in logistics, where we can use RFID in the automated ASN (Advance Shipping Notice) creation. This is currently done on a manual basis by our suppliers. In the future we would also involve our consolidation centers who create the ASN if the suppliers have not done that yet."

area reading opens up new possibilities

Last, we asked some of Wilkens's thoughts about the area reading / overhead systems that have raised public interest in the past year. "In addition to performing automated inventory, the overhead readers could serve the store infrastructure also otherwise. If the installation of an overhead reader would cover the problem of the store not having a WLAN, it would cover much more than just the plain inventory. This is the issue we are facing - our stores do not have a wireless LAN and the overhead readers include one," he comments.

Even marketing could benefit from this kind of a system, the combination of WLAN and RFID readers. "The WLAN connection of the reader combined to the UHF tags in the merchandises would help us in planning in-store marketing. For example, together they could be able to provide data for a stock app for smart phones. For the customers this would provide direct benefits in addition to conventional product information, like bonus points and answers to their marketing questions, and even free coupons if we one day have a C&A app. Even the staff could utilize this system - if they carried smart devices with them, they could check if the visible merchandising has been executed in the right way and observe the bottleneck situation in certain areas. Furthermore, it would be interesting if smart devices could also run the stock app itself for actual stock operations," Wilkens explains.

"The overhead reading system is something that is for me personally very interesting. The WLAN connection combined to an RFID is something that I see very beneficial as it can solve versatile business cases," Wilkens concludes.

Joachim _Wilkens

Joachim Wilkens, C&A Group's Head of Functional IT

3 comments on “Retail RFID – A closer look at C&A”

  1. Posted Thursday, October 08, 2015 at 8:55:25 AM

    Can we clone our retail access card, credit card, RFID transit card to any implant?

  2. Posted Thursday, November 09, 2017 at 1:16:49 PM

    It is really good and more information also having here. Thanks for posting here as more important documents here

  3. Posted Thursday, November 16, 2017 at 1:10:30 AM

    Great! It sounds good. Thanks for sharing..

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