Department store group House of Fraser will begin a year-long trial of radio frequency identification technology this summer, designed to ascertain the benefits that can be driven across the supply chain.
The trial represents the next stage in the development of RFID across the UK retail industry as it will test the technology across an international supply chain.
The project, which will be carried out in conjunction with supply chain management firm Exel, will cover women’s clothing lines from House of Fraser's own-brand manufacturers in China.
RFID tags will be attached to garments, allowing House of Fraser to track shipment movements at item level. As containers arrive at the retailer’s national distribution centre in Milton Keynes, the company will measure the cost benefits associated with automated receiving, inventory counting, distribution centre dispatching and store receiving.
Colin Porter, supply chain director at House of Fraser, said, “We are doing this as a proof-of-concept, seeing if the technology works and what the benefits will be. Ultimately, we envisage improvements in accuracy at all touch points [in the supply chain] but we want to work out what the potential cost savings will be.”
In a related development, House of Fraser has just completed the implementation of an integrated range planning system from retail software firm Compass.
The system will allow the retailer to improve the efficiency of the process of laying out stores and allocating shelf space for goods, Porter said.