Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Belgian clothing retailer JBC adopts RFID technology across supply chain

Steve Rogerson
December 15, 2015
 
JBC, Belgium’s largest clothing retailer, has rolled out RFID technology throughout its entire supply chain, from point of production through its distribution centre (DC) to its 144 stores in the region.
 
JBC says it is pioneering the adoption of RFID technology in Belgium to provide accurate merchandise visibility through its supply chain with the objective of enabling omni-channel retailing and enhancing its shoppers’ experience. JBC now tracks more than 17 million items a year, from the moment of production of its 100 suppliers around the world up to the time they are sold in its stores in Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany.
 
This technology investment allows JBC to optimise its stock of 1.5 million hanging garments and 15.5 million flat-packed garments to reduce out-of-stocks and enhance its shopper’s experience online or in-store.
 
JBC used technology from New Jersey company Checkpoint Systems to enable its sales staff and logistics service providers to track stock movements, optimise store inventory and identify merchandise items that are being returned or recalled to its DC. The inventory visibility enables its online shoppers to see accurate inventory quantity of its merchandise, which is particularly important with a fast-fashion retailer.
 
“We partnered with Checkpoint to prove the concept and measure the impact RFID technology would have through our supply chain,” said Fred Tielens, logistics manager at JBC. “We can now accurately track and have visibility into the quantity and location of over 17 million stock items, which enables us to confidently expand our omni-channel initiatives in the future.”
 
With Checkpoint’s RFID technology, each of the 144 stores is now a mini DC able to process online purchases next to regular brick and mortar activities.
 
“We are proud to have earned JBC’s confidence during this project,” said Per Levin, president of merchandise availability at Checkpoint Systems. “The teams formed a deep partnership and have together deployed a highly sophisticated and well integrated RFID project from source to store, bringing sustainable benefits to JBC's franchise partners and its customers. It's not only the first and the biggest deployment in Belgium, but may also be the first globally in a franchisee organisation.”
 
Six Checkpoint RFID tunnels at JBC’s DC in Houthalen-Helchteren automatically verify the physical contents of inbound shipments from suppliers and outbound shipments to JBC stores. The tunnels, with Checkpoint’s OAT Enterprise software, automatically match the exact contents against shipping manifests as they enter and leave the DC for its stores.
 
“In addition to the inventory visibility benefits, RFID might allow us in the future to measure the impact of promotions and make customised suggestions to our shoppers,” said Tielens. “We will be able to guide our shoppers through the purchase process from start to finish, whether they are shopping online or in one of our stores.”
 
JBC is an entirely Belgian family business that merchandises international fashion trends suitable for the whole family. JBC has shops across Belgium, Luxemburg and Germany. The company employs 270 people who work at the head office in Houthalen, Limburg.