Marks & Spencer released new details about its massive RFID deployment at the EuroShop event in Dusseldorf, Germany earlier this month.
The UK’s largest clothing retailer expects to consume 400 million RFID tags this year as it moves to become the first retailer in the world to tag 100 percent of its general merchandise items in order to provide more holistic inventory tracking throughout its supply chain.
Marks & Spencer’s RFID initiatives have already sliced out-of-stocks by up to 40 percent. M&S, which began piloting RFID in 2003, plans to expand its RFID program to jewelry, cosmetics, home ware items and gifts, with cosmetics and beauty goods rolling out in the spring of 2015.
“The thing that intrigues me is that they are moving out beyond apparel into the other areas of their department store, except for food,” says Bill Hardgrave, Dean of the College of Business at Auburn University. “That’s a pretty significant step forward.”
Since deploying RFID, Marks & Spencer is able to take store inventory up to 10 times faster than with traditional bar code scanners, making the process not only faster and more accurate but significantly more efficient.
“From the beginning, the M&S RFID implementation was driven by measurable financial benefits, as well as a desire to improve customer service through greater stock availability,” says Steve Finlan, retail director at Marks & Spencer.
“With the move to 100 percent RFID tagging, these goals have been more than satisfied. Inventory accuracy has been improved by up to 50 percent. What’s more, the granular level of store and department benefits detailed weekly by M&S software has proved the RFID business case many times over.”
M&S has partnered with Avery Dennison since 2003 to develop RFID tags that are fully integrated into a wide range of labels and tickets, including self-adhesive RFID labels on promotional tickets. The retailer first used RFID at its High Wycombe store near London to tag 10,000 men’s suits, shirts and ties.
To date, Avery Dennison RBIS has shipped more than one billion RFID tags to M&S with no data loss or duplication. More than 200 factories in 20 countries apply RFID tickets and labels at the source of manufacture for distribution in stores.
With 21 million customers visiting their stores each week, M&S realizes the strong gains it stands to make by using RFID to increase customer satisfaction and overall customer experience.
“Our RFID partnership with Avery Dennison has made stock counting and real-time inventory tracking faster, more efficient and more accurate, facilitating better management of stock levels and ensuring that the correct product mix is always on display,” says Kim Phillips, head of packaging at Marks & Spencer.
“The benefits experienced by Marks & Spencer with our RFID implantation program go beyond quantifiable savings and production times, to an enhanced customer journey and seamless omni-channel experience.”