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GS1 UK helps River Island explore wider benefits of RFID technology

Date: November 13, 2017


RFID in retail has overcome a long history of hype to deliver real benefits to apparel retailers. 

The results from RFID store implementations are so convincing, retailers are now expanding its use to other areas of their business. To help them on their journey, GS1 UK led a workshop with River Island to understand the applications of RFID outside the store.

RFID – Radio Frequency Identification – refers to the use of radio waves to read and capture information stored on a tag attached to an object. This innovative technology can help organisations identify every single product with a serialised number, leading to improved inventory management and clearer visibility along the supply chain.

Adoption of RFID in the retail industry has been led by the apparel sector with Marks and Spencer, Macy’s, John Lewis and Tesco F&F pioneering the technology.

Apparel is a natural fit for RFID where product complexity, cost pressures and customer expectations have created a clear business need and robust return on investment.

Although only three years into their RFID journey, River Island has experienced significant benefits from using the technology.

Jon Wright, Head of Loss Prevention said: “EPC RFID at River Island has been a significant step forward for the business both in generating sales but also helping to lay the foundation for future Omnichannel opportunities.

“The technology has improved stock accuracy to above 97%, which in turn has had a positive impact on sales for River Island, this is now leading us to further expand our use of EPC RFID within the business.”

At the end of September, GS1 UK welcomed partners from River Island to their headquarters in the City of London where the high street retailer listened to presentations from four different RFID solution providers.

On the day, each of the suppliers were given the opportunity to demonstrate their solutions, while River Island got to ask questions including ease of implementation, cost and accessibility.

Jon Wright, who was one of four representatives for River Island on the day, said that the workshops hosted and facilitated by GS1 UK were hugely beneficial in helping identify River Island’s next steps for EPC RFID.

“GS1 UK ensured they understood our requirements before engaging with relevant vendors and retailers to ensure the day was worthwhile and that we were provided with all the information we required,” said Jon Wright.

“RFID is an enabler to so many opportunities within our business, such as customer engagement, analytics, loss prevention, customer returns accuracy, efficiency – the list is endless. The goal is to focus on the areas that move the bar the biggest and quickest and not be distracted by “nice to have” benefits.”

Jacky Broomhead, Market Development Manager – Apparel, said that the series of pitches were a great success.

“Transformational technologies like RFID can seem overwhelming for businesses due to the scope of potential applications,” said Jacky Broomhead. “The University of Auburn has identified over 60 use cases for RFID in retail but not all of these are going to work for an organisation or achieve a return on investment.

“As a neutral and not-for-profit organisation, GS1 UK is in a unique position to connect organisations and offer impartial guidance to help retailers determine the best way forward.

“We hope to put more of these types of workshops on and we look forward to hearing suggestions from our partners.”

If you have an idea for how GS1 UK can bring together different businesses in the apparel industry for networking or business opportunities, contact Jacky Broomhead.


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