Marks & Spencer has extended its item-level radio frequency identification trial to cover its autumn/winter clothing range. The move will increase the total number of items tagged by the retailer from 25 million to 49 million.
As part of the trial, the retailer's suppliers in 20 countries tag every item in six clothing categories.
M&S started using RFID because it wanted to improve stock control and ensure customers could find clothes in the size they wanted.
Although tagged garments are on the shelves of every M&S store, the retailer is reading tags at only 42 outlets. Staff in these stores use Bluetooth retail handheld devices from RFID systems integrator Intellident to scan garments in a weekly stock check. Every tagged garment in a store can be read in 90 minutes.
The handheld devices transmit each tag's unique number to an Intellident Mobile Store Reader base station over the Bluetooth connection. The base stations then transmit the data to a managed database, which can be interrogated by M&S's head-office applications.
The tags, which are produced by supplier Microelectronics, cost between 10p and 12p each. The cheapest garments that M&S has tagged are ladies' jeans costing £9.99.
Speaking at last week's IDTechEx RFID Smart Labels conference, James Stafford, M&S head of clothing RFID, said, "Sales results are very encouraging."
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