The traditional clothing and wider retail industry have undergone major changes in recent years. The way in which consumers shop, including everything that comes with it, has become extremely complex. The structure of the changing seasons used to be relatively simple, whereas many fashion brands are now working with eight or more collections per year. Some chains are even having to deal with a weekly new supply of products. It’s becoming increasingly more important for retailers to be able to respond to short and long-term needs. In addition, omnichannel entrepreneurship places different demands on logistics and the supply chain. The combination of online and offline shopping is so normal for the younger generation, that distinguishing between the two isn’t actually of any importance.
Major steps in the field of RFID
One of the challenges is the management of clothing deliveries. This continues to be extremely difficult, as it’s a non-transparent system. Do the numbers on the packing note match what’s actually inside the box? This will need to be manually checked in order to be sure. However, this is so much work that in practice it often doesn’t happen. What if a retailer could scan the entire box, have an instant overview of the contents and see whether it matches the packing note? Radio-frequency identification, or rather RFID, is a technology which allows for this and a range of other functionalities. For example, RFID offers increased asset visibility, it helps to mitigate risk, theft and loss and improves employee productivity.
It’s one of the most popular tools for gaining an insight into stock levels and to subsequently realise transparency throughout the entire chain. The fashion industry is already heavily involved with this technology, although some countries are clearly more advanced in this process than others.
Snowball effect in the clothing industry
Major players like C&A, Nike and Inditex already use RFID. LPP, a Polish retail group entering the UK market this year, is also rolling out RFID on a global scale with Checkpoint Systems. A snowball effect is likely to be set in motion, as the technology can also be used for smaller chains. “Various different European fashion companies are busily working on this behind the scenes with different RFID solutions, which we also offer, ” said Fran Zanier, European Marketing Director at Checkpoint Systems. “The clothing industry is in a prime position for RFID implementation. After all, everyone in this industry is already so used to applying labels at the place of production, which is referred to as source protection. All those facets have already been embedded within the platforms used. So there is already a basis, resulting in much less of a transition compared to other industries.”
Antenna in the shape of a lipstick
In addition to the advancement of RFID, traditional loss prevention systems are also continuing to develop. ‘Experience’ is always the key word in retail. Consumers, particularly of the younger demographic, are visiting brick and mortar shops less often. And if they do decide to physically go shopping, then retailers need to be able to offer an experience. “What you can see is that our loss and prevention products are now increasingly forming part of the interior and retail concept which fashion brands are choosing to introduce,” added Zanier. “This includes an antenna in the shape of a lipstick for a beauty chain or a version with the latest model of sneakers for a sports store. By creating fully personalised antennas, retailers can promote different products, make seasonal promotions all while enhancing brand awareness. Functional devices are thereby turned into real eye-catchers. It’s all about realising the right balance between design, concept and, last but not least, how the product works.”
Custom-made products are gaining in popularity
Checkpoint Systems has recently noted an increasing demand for personalised solutions, in addition to its classic range. This will often involve existing solutions which are adapted into custom-made products. Checkpoint Systems’ design team works closely together with its customers during this process. The same also applies to the development of price labels and care labels – managed by Apparel Labelling Solutions, a successful Checkpoint business. It’s incredibly important for all data to be effectively managed in order for fashion retailers to be able to guarantee continuity. After all, these price labels and care labels are printed on location and incorporated in the product by the manufacturer. A higher level of creativity is now needed during the design process. Simple price labels used to suffice, with variable data such as the price, size, colour and barcode printed onto the label. Today, fashion companies like to distinguish themselves with labels in daring styles, which convey the brand image and values to the consumer. In short: functionality and aesthetics go hand in hand in order to improve the customer experience.
About Checkpoint Systems
Checkpoint Systems is a global leader in loss prevention for the retail industry. The company offers smart solutions which will guarantee clarity and efficiency, always and everywhere. These solutions are the direct result of fifty years of expertise in radio frequency technology, innovative theft and loss prevention systems, leading software, RFID hardware and comprehensive label solutions for identifying, securing and following up items from the source to the store.