The Challenge

Over the course of recent years, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology has been applied in many different business domains to handle inventory challenges, for example, the problem of monitoring stock. Retailers can use the knowledge of item locations to understand in which area of the store they can locate articles, such as the backroom or sales floor. By possessing this knowledge, retailers can rely on having optimal product availability for their customers through an efficient replenishment process. When using Detego’s InStore software, RFID technology provides the benefit of up to 99% stock accuracy and on-floor availability. However, there have always been limitations with the ability to understand an item’s exact location, due to the long-distance read signal an RFID tag emits. The most common “best-practice” methods that can ensure such high figures are currently known to involve a physical method of shielding between individual stock locations, whether this is using foil or metallic paint. However, this common and costly method of shielding has left retailers and our data scientists wondering what else could be done to lower the hurdles on the initial steps of the RFID journey.

Beating the laws of Physics

Detego’s data scientists have debated and solved this common problem by utilising machine learning and tag localization to establish the ‘Smart Shield’ feature to determine the relative locations of individual items. When RFID was developed, the concept of identifying individual tag locations was never considered a possibility. However, the innovation and progress made by our team has already defied the laws of physics, with our ‘Smart Shield’ results showing performance to be on par with physical shielding requirements. By removing this barrier, a much faster and affordable implementation into brick-and-mortar stores has been made possible.

How it works

Every individual RFID tag creates a specific time & signal stamp when it is read by an RFID reader – up to several times per second. Using the data that this process collects, we apply smart algorithms to our software so that it can continuously learn and improve the accuracy each time a stocktake is performed without physical shielding. Traditionally, ‘fixed reader infrastructure’ was the only technique of identifying individual item locations without physical shielding. To combat the rigidity of this method, we modified this approach to handheld readers to generate a highly cost-effective and scalable solution.

What it means

No more physical shielding – Firstly, we can solve one of the major downfalls of RFID by eliminating the necessity for physical shielding between a retailer’s separate stock locations. In saying that, ‘Smart Shield’ is not the silver bullet that 100% removes the need for physical shielding. There will be challenging stores where Smart Shield runs into limitations. However, there are also stores where it’s difficult to apply physical shielding – so here the ‘Smart Shield’ can help.

Continuous improvement with Artificial Intelligence – Applying our machine learning algorithms to the data will result in automatic learning & improvements with on-going stocktakes; further improving accuracy & efficiency of store processes.

More than just ‘shielding’ – This new capability for RFID tag localization has huge benefits far beyond the removal of physical shielding in retail stores. Through the machine learning infrastructure in place that enables us to identify locations of individual RFID tags, we can improve operations in the following ways:

  • Replenishment advice and picking lists for e-com processes can be optimised through location-based sorting to make the process more efficient for the store associate when in the backroom.
  • Staff will now additionally be supported in finding items to further enhance customer service.

Utilising the information about relative locations of items can drastically increase staff efficiency and business process efficiency across various functions relating to logistics, warehousing and retail. Not only will this save their budget, but they will also experience faster time to market and their franchise/wholesaler partners will be enabled in a more streamlined process that eases the implementation of the new technology.

What’s next?

The use cases of RFID technology have progressed even further than initially anticipated. From the first use case to our Smart Shield feature using artificial intelligence. The latter is now readily available as part of our platform and retailers can easily utilise the new system, seeing an increase in process efficiency across both the backroom and the shop floor. But perhaps the biggest development enabled by the ‘Smart Shield’ is the greater ease with which retailers can now implement RFID systems in stores. As this relatively-young technology continues to improve, developments like the ‘Smart shield’ are further steps towards RFID becoming part of the status quo in the fashion retail landscape, as advancements such as this discover new use cases for the technology whilst simultaneously reducing the cost and time required for implementation.

“Utilizing the information about relative locations of items can drastically increase staff efficiency and business process efficiency across various functions relating to logistics, warehousing and retail. Together with features that will significantly lower the costs for a roll-out, retailers will experience an even faster time to market and will have the ability to enable franchise/wholesaler partners with full RFID capabilities at low costs.”

Dr. Michael Goller – CTO Detego

Did we spark your interest?

Detego takes RFID-based stock management to the next level with advanced localization capabilities.

Introducing ‘Smart Shield’ – Detego defies the laws of physics with breakthrough in RFID tag localization

London, UK, 04.04.2019 — Detego, the leader in business intelligence for fashion retailers, has released the latest innovation for their RFID-based inventory management software with a feature they call ‘Smart Shield’. This new technological advancement utilizes machine learning to determine the relative location of individual RFID tags, a feature which will drastically improve costs and process efficiencies for retailers implementing RFID.

Over the course of recent years, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology has been applied in many different business domains to solve, for example, the issue of monitoring stock. Retailers in particular use the knowledge of item locations to understand in which area of the store they can find articles, for example, the backroom or sales floor. By having this knowledge, retailers achieve optimal product availability for their customers through an efficient replenishment process. When applied correctly, RFID technology provides the benefit of up to 99% stock accuracy and on-floor availability. However, until now there have always been limitations with the ability to understand an item’s exact location, due to the long-distance read signal achieved by modern RFID systems. The most common “best-practice” methods that can ensure such high figures are currently known to involve a physical method of shielding between individual stock locations, whether this is using foil or metallic paint. However, this common and costly method of shielding has left retailers and Detego wondering what else could be done to lower the hurdles on the initial steps of the RFID journey.

Every individual RFID tag creates a specific time & signal stamp when it is read by an RFID reader – up to several times per second. By collecting this data and applying smart algorithms within their software, Detego takes RFID-based merchandise management to the next level by adding an additional location element. Within this tag localization initiative, Detego establishes their ‘Smart Shield’ feature which can be utilized with just a handheld reader. With this advancement, retailers will no longer need to spend additional time and resources to put up physical shielding. Instead, they can roll-out RFID projects at a fraction of the time and cost. A newly-published research paper exploring the potential of this ground-breaking technology will be presented at this year’s 2019 IEEE International Conference on RFID.

“When RFID was developed, the concept of individual tag localization was always considered as ‘the holy grail’. Our latest innovations around this topic with our ‘Smart Shield’ feature is on par with traditional methods like physical shielding. By removing this barrier, a much faster and affordable implementation into brick-and-mortar stores has been made possible. However, this is just one element within our far more general localization initiative that will bring a variety of exciting new features for our customers.” says Detego CTO, Dr Michael Goller.

Detego says the new capability to ‘localize’ specific RFID tags has benefits far beyond the ‘Smart Shield’ feature. Through the machine learning infrastructure in place that enables individual tag localization, Detego can improve store operations in the following ways:

  • Replenishment advice and picking lists for e-com processes can be optimised through location-based sorting to make the process more efficient for the store associate when in the backroom.
  • Staff will now additionally be supported in finding items to further enhance customer service.

“Utilizing the information about relative locations of items can drastically increase staff efficiency and business process efficiency across various functions relating to logistics, warehousing and retail. Together with features that will significantly lower the costs for a roll-out, retailers will experience an even faster time to market and will have the ability to enable franchise/wholesaler partners with full RFID capabilities at low costs.” says Detego CTO, Dr. Michael Goller.

Having pioneered and tested this exciting new technology, Detego’s ‘Smart Shield’ is now readily available as part of their global SaaS platform. The first retailers are already beginning to successfully utilise the new system, seeing an increase in process efficiency across both the backroom and the shop floor. But perhaps the biggest development enabled by the ‘Smart Shield’ is the greater ease with which retailers can now implement RFID systems in stores. As this relatively-young technology continues to improve, developments like the ‘Smart shield’ are further steps towards RFID becoming part of the status-quo in the fashion retail landscape, as advancements such as this discover new use cases for the technology whilst simultaneously reducing the cost and time required for implementation.

All store assistants are busy at the moment and another customer enters the store. She has only one question: “Is the skirt in the shop window also available in XS?”– It’s not going to take long, however, nobody is available to assist. She briefly looks around on the sales floor…finds nothing and therefore leaves the store.

Increase service quality in the store with Artificial Intelligence

With digital sales assistants, fashion retailers no longer have to keep consumers waiting but offer them a convenient service. The chatbot serves consumers via smartphone by answering initial questions such as: Is the article still available in my size? Where can I find it? How expensive is it? What accessories go with it? If an article is out of stock, Detega makes suggestions, e.g. to have the desired article shipped from another store to the customer´s preferred store or even directly to her home.

Recommendations for more consumer engagement

If a store assistant recommends additional articles to a customer, it could easily backfire as unwanted assistance can be considered intrusive and the customer might avoid visiting the store in future. However, if a chatbot recommends an article that the customer clearly perceives as a possible additional purchase, he/she will have no problem considering the recommendation or rejecting it by simply swiping it away and look at other articles that he/she likes better. Chatbots enable a non-binding yet personalised dialogue – just as customers are familiar with online shopping.

Detega Video – Initial dialouge before sales personnel takes over

The use of digital store assistants. Benefits for retailers.

Detega…

  • starts a dialogue with the consumer via smartphone as desired
  • notifies store personnel to bring certain articles to consumers
  • pushes purchases through „live“  discounts
  • brings online shopping experience into the store
  • activates cross-selling potential by letting customers browse through the entire product range
  • recommends articles that are actually available in the store
  • supports as well as unburdens store personnel
  • deepens the brand experience
  • compiles data on customer clusters and their preferred article combinations
  • continues to interact with customers after they leave the store to inform them about special offers, etc.
  • offers after-sales services to customers such as reservations in the store

The use of digital store assistants. Benefits for customers.

Detega…

  • helps with the decision-making process using information
  • provides useful product recommendations such as: popular items, bestsellers, reduced articles and product variants
  • accurate product recommendations due to Artificial Intelligence
  • offers self-service via customers‘ smartphone
  • offers online shopping experience in-store
  • answers immediately – customers are not kept waiting
  • gives information in real-time
  • notifies the store personnel to bring desired articles directly to the customer
  • allows customers to browse through the full product range
  • guarantees an unforgettable shopping experience
  • passes on customers to sales personnel when required

„At the Point-of-Sale, the chatbot serves digitally-oriented target groups via their smartphones and passes them on to the sales personnel for individual service whenever the sales process requires it.“

Dr. Michael Goller – CTO Detego

Did we spark your interest?

Detego, a market leader in business intelligence and real-time analytics for the fashion retail industry, is launching new software to actively support retailers in their consumer engagement strategies. As part of its omni-channel retailing software suite, Detego InChannels bridges the gap between online and bricks-and-mortar retailing by using more digital touchpoints in stores. These include digitally connected “smart fitting rooms” and interactive screens on the sales floor, as well as the introduction of a new Detego chatbot that accompanies customers throughout the entire buying process at any time on a customer’s smartphone.

Detego’s pioneering Smart Fitting Rooms technology allow customers to directly communicate with store personnel via interactive screens in the fitting room and request other products or sizes be brought to them (or even be delivered to other locations). A global sportswear retailer is currently rolling out the concept across its store estate, including arming its staff with iWatches to help guide them with more informative, real-time information.

The software provides reliable data on the number of articles that have been tried-on and sold or not (with fitting room conversion rates unique to the system). Social media feeds built into Detego InChannels also give customers the ability to post recommendations or put together outfits that can be shared within their community. This helps boost levels of engagement with customers, particularly in stores, increasing interaction across a broader range of products.

By using Detego InChannels, retailers are able to get a much deeper understanding of consumer behaviour across various different channels. Detego claims that its software’s more precise and intelligent product recommendations – based on using real-time data on product availability – can increase sales and reduce the number of unnecessary markdowns. For instance, only articles that are currently in-stock are flagged up and the intelligent system can even be used to encourage more sales of otherwise slower-selling or higher margin items. The AI capabilities of Detego’s software also mean that the recommendations get better and better as the logic behind the self-learning system continually improves and increases its functionality.

“Retailers have to adapt their store processes to the expectations of a new, digital customer using more modern-day technologies that bring the customer, store and online worlds together for good,” says Uwe Hennig, CEO at Detego.

Detego, a specialist in real-time business intelligence for the fashion retail industry, is launching Detego InStore 4.2, making it the first vendor to offer in-store software with comprehensive functionalities for omni-channel retailing. Many international fashion retailers, including G-Star and Marc O’Polo, already use Detego InStore for providing real-time transparency on individual items across multiple channels. Following the introduction of Detego software and RFID tags on every item of clothing, a recent pilot with one global fashion brand revealed that it was able to boost sales and improve inventory management across its mobile, store and online business. Other live projects have shown Detego’s software to increase merchandise inventory accuracy from an industry average of around 75 percent to up to 99 percent. The latest release features a number of standard applications for omni-channel retailing, including ‘click & reserve’, ‘ship-from-store’ and ‘return-to-store’, enabling fashion retailers to more effectively manage popular services like same-day deliveries.

“Detego InStore bridges the gap between online and offline retailing and allows fashion retailers to support their customers at every touchpoint, along the entire customer journey,” says Uwe Hennig, CEO at Detego. “It means that stocks will be used more intelligently and omni-channel retailing strategies can be implemented in a more cost-efficient way.”

The cloud-based Detego retail software differs from many rivals by providing item-level visibility of merchandise, whatever the channel, as well as offering a complete in-store solution with comprehensive omni-channel applications (including hardware, service components and updates), all for a monthly subscription fee, rather than large upfront investment. The software is particularly geared towards fashion retailers because of the need to closely monitor so many ranges, styles, colours and sizes, as well as the inherent costs of over-supply and discounting. Detego says that franchisees and consession stores are also built into the software’s omni-channel set-up to ensure a positive brand experience across all channels for customers.

“Consumers no longer distinguish between online and offline, or brand-owned and franchise stores, but rather expect a seamless shopping experience across all channels,” says Hennig. “And this can be achieved without the constraint of increasing stocks in stores.”

Intelligent article management software Detego has today released a real-time analysis tool for fashion retailers—Detego InReports. This tool brings a new analysis platform that can coordinate the demands of the sales floor and logistics chain, helping retailers access current information such as the merchandise inventory and availability of items on the sales floor.

With bricks-and-mortar fashion retailers competing with online stores, retailers are forced to keep up with the pace set by customers, which means that product line management is essential. Detego recognises that the multi-channel strategy necessitates transparency, targeted merchandise distribution and increased merchandise availability, and is able to solve these issues using their new InReports technology.

Michael Goller PhD, CTO of Detego notes: “We developed Detego InReports as a tool for our customers so they can be better equipped for the ever more dynamic market and the growing demands of it. More than anything else, retailers with a network of several hundred stores need transparency and data that they can depend on in order to be able to react quickly. Detego InReports enables retailers to have this information at their fingertips”.

Increase Sales, Reduce Inventory, Manage Stores

Detego InReports analyses the crucial key performance indicators of individual locations, including merchandise inventory and availability, in addition to the time spent on the sales floor), making it possible to effectively assess and analyse the performance of individual stores. The high quality of the information on hand allows for more precise management of the flow of merchandise, as well as a reduction in the in-stock inventory kept available in all channels and loss prevention. This results in a simpler way to better adapt what is on offer to customers, and subsequently improving the profitability of stores. Detego offers textile retailers a faster way to react to market changes and trends that is based on overall inventory transparency, which translates to increased merchandise turnover and sales volume.