I interviewed Stephane Pique who discussed RFID in Retail.
It’s nice to speak with you today, Stephane, and today I’m looking forward to hearing your views on RFID in retail. Can you start by providing a brief background of yourself?
Sure. My name is Stephane Pique. I work for Motorola Solutions. I am in the position of Director of the RFID Industry Solutions Groups. I have been working in RFID for over 20 years. I have worked in different companies and industries, but always related to RFID. I also work a lot with the European Commission, Government bodies and many different end customers deploying the technology.
In Motorola, we have over one thousand RFID customers and we are the leading supplier of RFID UHF reader hardware around the world.
Can you talk about what is happening in RFID in the retail industry?
RFID has been investigated for many, many years already in the retail environment. What has been actually seen, especially in the retail apparel business, is that because it is a higher value item it makes a lot of sense to use RFID technology for inventory purposes and for in-store operations. RFID helps them reducing the inventory time and increasing stock accuracy; also, the retailers do realize normally one or two times a year, a full-time inventory of the store and therefore due to the reduction of inventory time can conduct shorter cycle counts.
The time to check this inventory is quite long; it could take perhaps one or two or even three days to do it, and they have to close the store for this process.
So, RFID can bring apparel retailers some significant benefits:
Number one: They can do inventories more often. Customers are starting to do it once a week or every two weeks. This gives them better accuracy and therefore better visibility of their stock.
Number two: The whole process of checking inventory is reduced significantly, up to 95 percent; so the time, which they have spent through the whole inventory, can go down from some days to some hours. And the staff loves to use this technology because it is so easy and efficient to use.
The technology allows the retailer to conduct more often and much faster inventory and, therefore, receiving better accuracy and better visibility about its stock count. As a result, the replenishment can be more accurate, more efficient, and the most important thing is that they can reduce the out-of-stock situation on the sales floor.
We all know the situation where we go into a store and the store doesn’t have our size, does not has our color, and so on and so on. This is more due to the inaccurate stock situation of the retailers. They are not aware that they are missing those specific pieces on the shop floor, and RFID can help to them to increase the customer experience, satisfaction, and also resulting in to increase the turnover. But we can add even more value into the store. Some customers are starting to implement interactive changing rooms, where you can use a specific item in changing rooms to get some more information about the item or also some recommendations about styles, or complimentary accessories which fit very well to the item you have in your hand.
This could increase the customer experience as well. In addition to that, you could use RFID to speed up the payment processes at the point of sale.
Last but not least, you can use RFID as a replacement of the Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) technology. Right now, the article surveillance is based on one bit, meaning that this technology used can only tell you if it has it has been stolen or not as it has been turned off at the point of sales.
Now, RFID will allow them to clearly understand what has been stolen because every item is uniquely identifiable. Retailers want to know if something is missing on their sales floor in order to quickly replenish it. These are the most common use cases driving the adoption of RFID in the retail environment. As a next step, we expect the retailer going to start putting the RFID labels at the source of manufacturing allowing them to also get a better visibility within the supply chain up to the stores.
How did this trend or this change happen?
The trend is happening now because, I would say, over 30 percent of these brands in the U.S. and Europe are seriously investigating or even already rolling out RFID; big, big brands, which are very well known.
But also smaller companies are starting now to do RFID because they see the benefits from it. It is reality now and I think we are benefiting a lot right now from this push, and we will see very soon also the effect of going to the supply chain and going to manufacturing. This push to the manufacturer and into the supply chain will happen, I would say, in the coming three to five years.
Do you have any final recommendations?
I can only repeat what our customers are saying. They are very happy and are experiencing a sales up lift of at least 4 percent in the stores gives a clear indication that every apparel retailer should start, if they have not already, to investigate the usage of RFID in their stores and processes to get the most benefit out of it now. Their competitors are doing it already.
I recommend those retailers first to create from the big picture perspective by also including their suppliers and the whole supply chain in order to get the biggest benefit out of the technology.
Thank you for sharing your views today on RFID in the retail industry.
About Stephane Pique
Director RFID Industry Solutions Group EA