Italian women’s fashion retailer Sandro Ferrone is deploying RFID throughout its supply chain and at more than 200 stores worldwide after a successful pilot.
By tagging the more than two million items it sells each year, Sandro Ferrone gains numerous benefits, including higher inventory accuracy and increased productivity. The company plans to extend the solution to a new distribution center being built in Bologna.
Prior to RFID, workers scanned barcodes to identify and track items in the warehouse, which was time consuming and prone to errors. It took about 10 minutes to identify 100 items arriving at the distribution center.
Once RFID was deployed, Sandro Ferrone reduced this time to about seven seconds and improved inventory accuracy to 99 percent, nearly eliminating errors and allowing a significant improvement in the efficiency of the flow of items throughout the DC.
RFID also improved order preparation and reduced labor costs. According to Sandro Ferrone marketing manager Danilo Athanasius, the automated RFID system reduces the time it takes to pick items from warehouse shelves. As a result, the number of employees required to prepare items for shipping has been reduced from 18 to six.
Sandro Ferrone’s suppliers apply EPC Gen2 passive UHF RFID labels from Tageos on hang tags for each garment or accessory in various product categories, such as dresses, tops and bags.
Prior to being attached to garments, RFID labels are printed and encoded by the supplier, with a unique EPC product identification number, using Toshiba BSX4T RFID printers. The suppliers print information such as barcode, product description, collection identification number on the face of the label, and encode the RFID identification number into the tag, which includes information about the supplier and detailed information about the item the label will be attached to. The information encoded into the RFID label is used throughout the manufacturing process and the supply chain.
Tageos EOS-300 UHF RFID paper-only labels allow Sandro Ferrone to easily print on the labels, resulting in high RFID performance levels in retail apparel. The label’s dimensions (54x34mm with an antenna of 50x30mm) are best suited for the existing ticket dimensions of the retailer.
After being tagged and packed, garments are shipped and tracked to Sandro Ferrone’s distribution center in Roma, Italy.
When products arrive at a DC they are automatically read by RFID readers placed at receiving gates and the tag information is recorded in the retailer’s database. The software part of the system was developed by Zucchetti. No human checking or intervention is needed at this step. Each RFID gate employs four RFID antennas connected to a FEIG LRU 3500 four-port RFID reader. The system allows for quick and automatic identification of goods as they pass through the gate.
Once the products are identified and stored, operators using Nordic ID Merlin RFID handheld readers can perform fast shelf inventories of the entire distribution center, consequently increasing inventory accuracy to 99 percent.
RFID is also used to prepare orders for packing and shipment to stores. Operators use a handheld reader to locate and pick ordered goods in the DC. The quick identification process allows Sandro Ferrone to significantly improve the speed and efficiency of order preparation.
Once ordered products are packed and ready to be shipped, they pass through an RFID gate to ensure that the shipment matches the order and to record that the correct products have been shipped to the stores.
In order to achieve these process and inventory accuracy improvements, Sandro Ferrone put a strong emphasis on training staff in the use of RFID technology and systems, which allowed them to rapidly adopt the technology and achieve positive results.
Item level tagging gives Sandro Ferrone dramatically improved visibility of the items produced and shipped to stores and a significant improvement of supply chain and store replenishment processes.
The data collected provides an intelligent and accurate monitoring of its fast-fashion collections, which matches closely with Sandro Ferrone’s fast-fashion philosophy of having five collections a year instead of two. That strategy, coupled with their weekly-based renewed offers, results in shoppers who maintain high store traffic and who are up to three times more loyal. The benefits of RFID are expected to only increase this brand loyalty.