Belgian fashion design and retail company Essentiel Antwerp is deploying an RFID system at 40 of its stores that provides the firm with greater visibility into its stock counts, thereby improving the availability of its products in stores, and also enabling omnichannel sales. The solution consists of Nedap's !D Cloud software and handheld UHF RFID tag readers.

Essentiel Antwerp operates 55 stores across Western and Central Europe, most of which will be RFID-enabled, meaning the stores will be equipped with handheld RFID readers and connect to Nedap's !D Cloud solution. Essentiel Antwerp, launched by a young couple in 1999, originally sold T-shirts consisting of four styles in 20 colors from their apartment. According to the company, the T-shirts "sold like hot cakes," and it quickly expanded to other products sold in signature Essentiel stores across Europe.

The firm had tested various RFID solutions to gain inventory visibility, but found in the Nedap solution "a satisfactory system which will now be rolled out across the company," says Jan-Jakop Drabbe, Essentiel Antwerp's RFID project manager. "After a rapid pilot in the coming months, we expect full rollout before mid-2020." The company selected the Nedap solution based on its flexibility as a software-as-a-service model, ensuring a low cost of entry, while the stores could expand the use of the technology over time.

"Essentiel Antwerp was looking for a scalable solution to deploy on a global scale, as they have a lot of stores in different countries," recalls Bruno Bakker, Nedap Retail Benelux's business developer for RFID. "They knew cloud-based was the way to go," he says, and Essentiel Antwerp was looking for a solution that could be deployed quickly. "That is why they chose Nedap, as this allows for self-deployment on a global scale."

In addition to improved inventory visibility, the company says it expects to consolidate various inventories—such as wholesale, e-commerce and retail in stores—into one virtual inventory, allowing optimal accessibility for staff members and customers. The company could then launch its omnichannel sales.

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Using Nedap's self-deployment methodology will allow the brand to deploy the system quickly across several dozen stores, Essentiel Antwerp reports. This process employs a train-the-trainer concept, Bakker says. First, Nedap offers professional services to prepare the designated trainers (sales associates and managers from the stores) to roll out the solution at each site. Essentiel Antwerp will then be able to proceed with deploying the system.

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