Data Capture: RFID trial follows shirts from shelf to change room

by Inside Logistics Online Staff
In the pilot project RFID chips on men’s shirts, traffic counters and other in-store data points will identify the optimal merchandising mix.

Bricks-and-mortar stores are making a comeback, but only the digitally re-defined will thrive. Luckily, tools such as IoT, RFID, beacons and analytics are giving retailers insights into operations that can give their merchandise a boost.

SATO Global Solutions, a wholly owned subsidiary of SATO Holdings, and fast-growing retail brand Untuckit are working on a pilot that will use data collected by RFID chips on men’s shirts, traffic counters and other in-store data points to identify the optimal merchandising mix.

When a customer enters the store, store associates help them choose shirts from a selection of “try-on” shirts. Once a customer has decided on size, style and fit, the store associate can retrieve a fresh shirt for purchase. With a large volume of SKUs, Untuckit needs to ensure that it is stocking just the right number of garments in each SKU, based on demand.

The pilot at Untuckit’s recently opened Fifth Avenue, New York store will give managers visibility into merchandise movement, to better determine customer demand. Tiny RFID tags placed on the “try-on” shirts will collect real-time data on merchandise movement from showroom to fitting room (and back). Using a combination of the chip data, overhead traffic counters from RetailNext and POS data, sales managers can identify which shirts (exact sizes and styles) are being tried on and purchased, allowing Untuckit to continue to improve customer service in their stores.

This data sheds light on which SKUs are bestsellers so store managers can optimize inventory levels in real time based on shopper behaviour. It also suggests which sizes or styles can be reduced in volume due to low demand, reducing inventory cost and allowing for Untuckit to redirect their investments toward more popular SKUs, or new offerings.

“Moving from e-tail to multi-channel has its challenges, but we’ve found that our online experience helps us apply digital strategies to our physical stores and reimagine retail in a way that other traditional retailers are not yet even considering,” said Chris Riccobono, Untuckit founder and executive chairman.

Beacon-based traffic counters from RetailNext will allow Untuckit to accurately count, observe and measure the traffic paths of shoppers and store associates. They can also gather data on when shopper-associate interactions occur, how often, in what duration, and how they impact shopper behaviour. With its high-touch approach, understanding how associate behaviour influences shoppers is a valuable training and service insight for Untuckit.

“When people ask about examples of IoT in retail, I talk about this pilot. We have the ability to “upgrade” the physical store in a way that captures the same kind of data we get during online interactions,” said Keith Sherry, COO of SATO Global Solutions. “Retailers looking to compete in bricks-and-mortar have more tools than ever to understand shopper behaviour. The key is then applying these insights to align the customer experience with expectations across all channels.”

Untuckit has opened 20 locations across the United States, with plans to open an additional 25 in 2018, including international expansion.