Interview with Francisco Melo

Francisco Melo
Francisco Melo
Vice President & General Manager, Global RFID
Avery Dennison
Avery Dennison

Do you think NFC will take-over RFID soon in the retail domain?

The use case for NFC (also a form of RFID) is fundamentally different than ultra high frequency (UHF) RFID. UHF RFID is a 'one-to-many' technology that is ideal for inventory accuracy applications as it allows many items to be quickly detected without line of sight. 

NFC, on the other hand, is a one-to-one technology that requires close proximity. In the retail space, it's primarily used for payments (phone to terminal - or register) and consumers use it to directly scan a product for authentication purposes, where the smartphone will scan a hangtag. 

An example of this is shown in our Janela solution, powered by EVRYTHNG Smart Products Platform. The technology enables apparel and footwear products to have a unique, item level identity connected to a digital profile, often linked with experiences and rewards. Together, with EVRYTHNG, we recently announced a cutting-edge collaboration with New York fashion brand Rochambeau to produce an exclusive fall/winter run of 'Bright BMBR' connected jackets. Triggered by a smartphone, the 'Bright BMBR' jacket enables wearers to personalise content, receive retail awards and information, and gain access to one-of-a-kind experiences. 

The left sleeve of the smart jacket features a hidden zipper pocket containing a limited-edition label with a custom NFC chip and personalised QR code, allowing consumers to connect with these smart tags and access rewards and curated experiences.

What is the ROI after using RFID solutions specifically for apparel brands?

Typically, apparel retailers see a less than 1-year payback. Our team is equipped to develop ROI models specific to customers' business realities. This results in increases in sales, and marked increases of inventory accuracy of 99 per cent.

Besides tracking a garment, what are the different ways customers can be engaged using RFID?

RFID is becoming more pervasive in the market for consumers. While still developing on a large-scale, there are models for interactive fitting rooms, including the previously mentioned Oak Labs mirror, that can provide more seamless service and product recommendations, elevating the consumer experience. Automated checkout is also becoming more of a reality. In a scenario where a retailer is tagging all their inventory, they can enable a seamless point of sale experience.

Overall, however, UHF RFID enables retailers to drive operational improvements. While this isn't directly consumer-facing, it has a significant impact on the shopping experience and consumer satisfaction. For example, when Macy's deployed RFID in their women's shoe department, the products became twice as easy to find, year-over-year, compared to their other metrics on the Net Promoter Score.

What is the future of RFID in apparel retail? What will be the new areas of application?

Today, the baseline application is in-store inventory accuracy and replenishment, which  enables better omni-channel fulfillment - ship-from-store, and buy online, pick-up in store - in addition to allowing retailers to provide product location based on product availability.

With these fundamental applications in place, retailers can enable additional applications such as interactive fitting rooms, loss prevention analysis, analysis of sales by item location, and merchandising/planogram compliance.

Do you think providing a digitally connected in-store experience is the only way retailers can pull customers?

Technology is a means to enhance and improve a retailer's core value proposition to shoppers, whether that is about product, service, convenience or pricing. As the physical and digital world continues to merge, digital technologies will be most successful with a combination of those fundamentals in place to pull customers into stores. Some of the most interesting examples of are when technology works behind the scenes to make the shopping experience more fulfilling.

Other examples include technology enabled stores. In these instances, technology is used to create an ultra-convenient shopping experience (as they have online) rather than enable consumers to interact with a tablet. Retailers are also using "analog" ways to drive traffic - you see a lot of examples of this in the grocery space.

Published on: 09/02/2017

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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