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Major retailers attend GS1 UK’s RFID launch event

Date: February 23, 2018

Category: Industry news

On Wednesday 21 February, GS1 UK and our partners at ECR Community’s Shrink and On Shelf Availability Group, launched a new report - Measuring the impact of RFID in Retailing: Key lessons from 10 case-study companies.

To celebrate the launch, over 50 attendees from major retailers and brands, joined us for the evening, to hear from the author of the report Professor Adrian Beck and a panel of retailers that contributed to the research.

Taking place at the Clubhouse St James in London, Gary Lynch CEO at GS1 UK, kicked off the event by summarising the main highlights of this pioneering report - including why businesses invest in RFID, how they measure the impact and how they shared the results.

RFID launch event February 2018 

Professor Beck reminded us of just how far RFID technology had come, as we looked back at RFID predictions from 2002 - with one technology Director saying “RFID was as significant technology certainly as the internet itself.” Using the Gartner hype cycle he explained how interest in RFID has since peaked and declined but is now on a steady upwards trajectory.

Talking through the new findings, we learned the key reasons why retailers invested in RFID which was primarily to drive sales. Retailers also wanted to use RFID to optimise stock holdings, reduce markdowns and make better business efficiencies.

The panellist

The second part of the event involved a panel discussion with some of the retailers who participated in the study:

  • Rob Mitchell, Manager, Stock Management Operations at John Lewis
  • Sham Ahmad, Stock Audit & Compliance Manager at Jack Wills
  • Martin Speed, Safety and Loss Programs Manager at River Island
  • Richard Jenkins, Head of RFID and Loss Prevention Marks and Spencer

The panel openly shared their own experiences on a wide range of issues. Managing the Boards’ expectations on what RFID can deliver and how quickly, was a common theme. The panel spoke of the need to balance enthusiasm of the business following a successful trial with a realistic timeline for roll out.

Of the 10 companies interviewed, the most common success measure of RFID was increase in sales. However, this popular method can be difficult to assess particularly as more stores implement the technology. As Richard Jenkins from Marks and Spencer explained, you need to ensure that any difference in sales is not due to other factors such as a change in weather.

Sham Ahmad from Jack Wills agreed, saying that they compared sales results from stores using RFID, versus control stores that did not have the technology to prove the uplift was due to RFID. But, when roll out is complete and all stores are using the technology, finding a base line comparison to measure the impact can be challenging.

RFID launch event February 2018

Integration with existing IT systems was also a topic that all the panellists and attendees related to. The report identified integration as the biggest pain point of an RFID implementation with the panellists highlighting legacy systems, the increase in data and conflicting agendas from IT impacting the ease of roll out. The rule of thumb from the panellists was to keep things simple while you’re in the early stages of developing your RFID.

The panel was followed by a lively Q&A, asking a mix of questions, including the success of RFID when applied to food. The event was rounded off which drinks and networking, with many attendees staying to discuss the key topics further.

Jacky Broomhead, Market Development Manager at GS1 UK, said

"As the custodian for EPC, the RFID standard, we receive lots of enquiries from retailers interested in the technology who want to understand how to get it right the first time. We were delighted to partner with the ECR Community’s Shrink and On Shelf Availability on this independent report that provides a first-hand insight on what to do and what not to do when implementing RFID in retail."

Access the report

The research set out to offer a unique and detailed insight to the experiences of retailers that have invested in RFID technologies. It summarises not only the benefits it can bring, but also the real challenges adopters face when using it in a retail environment. As such, the report aims to offer an independent and thought-provoking guide to those thinking about embarking on using RFID".

Adrian Beck, Emeritus Professor, University of Leicester


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