Specialty Retail Inventory Management with RFID

Posted by Ken Lynch on Wed, Aug 04, 2010 @ 08:58 AM

From Diamond Dealers to Pawn Shops, RFID Allows Small Retailers to Compete with Big Box Stores

Over 400,000 specialty retail stores operate in the US, with combined annual sales of about $350 billion.  Targeting narrowly selected markets, specialty retailers include auto parts suppliers, book stores, camera shops, garden centers, jewelry stores, office supply centers and even pawn shops.

There are many success stories of RFID-enabled handheld scanners and portals being used for inventory in the mass apparel and footwear markets.  Whether counting jeans or Jordans, using RFID for retail floor inventory has been proven to take a fraction of the time it takes to complete a manual inventory and is one of the primary reasons cited by Wal-Mart for rolling out a new item level RFID program to track clothing.

But what about smaller specialty retailers?  Does the same hold true for counting diamond rings and digital cameras?

Given the fragmentation of the specialty retail market, it can be difficult for these stores to stand out.  Because of this, it is important for specialty retailers to take advantage of technology to increase efficiencies so they can compete with larger mass retailers not only on customer service and selection, but also on price.

EIS PortalThingMagic partner Electronic Inventory Solutions (EIS) based in Carrollton, Texas, has seized on this opportunity and is providing RFID inventory management solutions to specialty retailers like eyeglass stores, jewelry stores, pawn shops and liquor stores.  With the decline in passive RFID tag prices and improved read rates, EIS believes that RFID solutions for specialty retail is an explosive growth market, delivering a tremendous opportunity to implement an improved method for inventory management and control.

EIS serves the market with two complementary products based on ThingMagic embedded RFID modules:  a portal security system and a handheld fast audit system that can be deployed individually or as an integrated solution. 

Several specialty retailers have deployed EIS security and inventory management systems, including Bishop Pawn & Jewelry in Dallas and Santa Fe Optical in Austin, TX.  The Santa Fe Optical system, which utilizes pre-programmed, custom RFID tags from Avery Dennison, has significantly reduced theft of designer eyeglass frames and has allowed the store to complete its inventories with greater accuracy, less labor, and in less than 20% of the time compared to previous manual processes.  Most importantly, it has allowed Santa Fe Optical to improve their product mix and increase sales.

Given the uniqueness of products sold by specialty retailers, EIS has also invested in the design of active and passive RFID tags, including a new proprietary, reusable, battery assisted jewelry tag that is only 15mm in size and with tamper-proof technology.

With innovations like these, do you believe the specialty retail market moving toward mass adoption of RFID?  What other markets or market segments will benefit from the proven success of large retailers implementing RFID-based inventory solutions?

Tags: Specialty Retailers, Retail, Item Level RFID

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