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Loewe Pilots Real-time Location System for Luxury Apparel, Accessories
Date: 2017-06-19 09:00:28           Views :    
Spanish luxury fashion brand Loewe is piloting a radio frequency identification and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)-based solution at its new flagship store in Madrid. The system identifies the location of merchandise in real time, and thereby ensures that products are restocked efficiently and accurately, as needed.

The technology is provided by CXignited, based in Paris and New York City, which was previously known as Tagsys RFID. In 2016 Tagsys RFID rebranded its solution with an Internet of Things focus that incorporates not only RFID, but other wireless technologies as well, such as BLE.

Casa Loewe is the Spanish luxury brand's new three-story flagship store. The store, which employs approximately 30 workers, is designed to be reminiscent of a fashion collector's apartment, surrounded by Spanish art and materials such as Valencian clay floors. At the same time, the company reports, the store sells the latest in fashion apparel and accessories, and strives to make the products easy to access for shoppers in the physical store, as well as online.

The company sought an automated sensor-based system that would provide inventory visibility and analytics by digitizing the sales floor. The solution, consisting of RFID and BLE sensors, as well as gateways to capture and manage sensor data, and cloud-based software, enables the company to know where its products are located—whether in the back room or at the store front, as well as in two warehouses.

The new store faces numerous challenges related to managing stock levels within its space in Madrid, explains Marcelo Baltzer Foucher, Loewe's CIO and logistics director. "We have daily receptions [product deliveries] and seven-days-a-week operation," he states.

The store has limited back-room storage space, Foucher says, and many products move directly to the sales floor. In addition, frequent changes in merchandise based on new fashion collection launchings make inventory management complex. "It is a dynamic environment where we receive and interact with around 2,000 clients a week," he says. "In the new building, our stock area was dramatically reduced, so having real-time stock availability was key for assortment planning and replenishment,"

The CXignited system, known as ShopCX In-store, uses RFID- and BLE-enabled sensors to identify the location and status of each tagged item within a store or other space. The ShopCX sensors can not only read RFID tags, but also communicate with other devices via BLE and Eddystone, explains Luc Bellissard, CXignited's CTO, thereby enabling mobile phones to become part of a wireless network within the area. It employs the company's Real-time Local Positioning System (RLPS) technology to identify an item's location within a particular zone.
The sensors can capture data from RFID-tagged items and then forward that data, as well as receive transmissions from a base station installed in the ceiling or at another location. The base station, in turn, is connected to the cloud-based server.

Products arrive at Casa Loewe with EPC UHF RFID tags attached to them. Each tag ID is linked to a specific product's stock-keeping unit (SKU) in the software, so that the product can be uniquely identified. When goods are received, staff members simply bring the boxed items into the store, and each product's tag is captured by ShopCX sensors deployed around the area, on ceilings or in other discreet locations. The software automatically updates the inventory list, and store managers or personnel can view that data on a dashboard in the software, enabling them to identify what has been received and is thus available for sale.

As items are unpacked from boxes and placed at the store front, the sensors deployed around the store continue to capture the tag IDs and update each item's location. Staff members can use the technology to ensure that shelves are replenished as needed. For instance, if the number of products on a given shelf reaches a minimally acceptable level, the dashboard in the software can display an alert so that store personnel can move merchandise to the store front or order products from the warehouse.

The solution also includes several apps that can assist the sales staff with inventory management, as well as with customer service.

The Search & Pick app is designed to enable workers to better serve customers. If a shopper asks for a specific product, an employee can simply use the app to locate that item on a map of the store. "This information is based on the real-time physical visibility and localization offered by the ShopCX system," Bellissard explains.
The sales associate can then send a notification to the store's stock runner, thereby indicating which product is needed and where it is located. In this way, the worker need not leave the customer to search for the item requested, and can continue helping him or her with recommendations or other merchandise.

The app's picking function is useful for e-commerce, Bellissard notes. Staff members can quickly fulfill online orders by using the app to create a picking lost and identify where each product is located.

The retailer is not only testing the technology hardware, but also preparing for a permanent deployment. The implementation will consist of adding store segment categories into the software to help the staff better understand where products are located.

In the long run, Loewe expects the technology to reduce labor costs associated with inventory management, as well as increase product availability. This, the company indicates, leads to improved customer satisfaction and increased sales.