A few years ago MARC O’POLO made the strategic choice to connect their channels closer together with the aim of driving traffic from online to physical stores and vice versa. At the heart of this programme was the introduction of RFID: the enabler for full item visibility.
MARC O’POLO established in 1967, has gained a foothold as one of the world's leading premium modern casual brands. From the headquarters in Stephanskirchen, Southern Germany (Bavaria) MARC O’POLO deliver more than 9 million articles to almost 3.000 points of sale in 30 countries. A MARC O’POLO run Online store is available in selected countries under www.marc-o-polo.com
CREATING A CROSS-SELLING EXPRIENCE FOR THE CUSTOMER
The MARC O’POLO customer doesn't much care about channels. They buy the product where ever it is convenient for them at that very moment, as do most consumers according to a study by KPMG. Acknowledging this trend, MARC O’POLO set out to unify their channels by making all their products visible. From their perspective all items are "online" as the RFID tag embedded into the price tag allows them to track the item from stock to the store check out, be it at the DC, in transit to a store, on the shop floor, in the window or online stock. And as all the items are easier to track, stock lists are updated with greater speed and accuracy – an advantage for the staff but specially for the customer. For example, a sales assistant in the Munich store might be assisting a customer who is looking for a specific blouse in her size, but this store has run out of the item. The store assistant can then use her tablet to browse for availability from their web shop or other stores and order the item for the customer easily. No time robbing manual search for items by the store personnel, nor a long waiting times for the customer - the information is available there and then. Any item moves smoothly over the "ex-boundaries" of different business units.
GETTING THE TEAM BEHIND THE STRATEGY
Implementing RFID is not about technology, but visibility. However, the technology aspect of it may be daunting for the employees. A solution allowing the content of a box containing 200 dresses to be counted in few seconds or a stock take of a store that takes only 30 minutes may feel like rocket science to many. The new technology and its meaning for MARC O’POLO strategy needed to be explained to the employees so they in turn could tell the story to customers. To enable this, MARC O’POLO put in significant resources and thought.
Before the RFID project went live, an RFID expert was selected from each store. This person was trained before the store switched to RFID. The RFID expert was in charge of making the preparations for RFID - the technology was installed into the stores beforehand, and a day before the store was "switched on", the RFID expert would perform the initial RFID stock count. Once the RFID system was on, the RFID advocate started training her/his peers. All personnel were asked to complete a smart e-learning tutorial to check if they had fully understood the relevance and impact of RFID. One major part of the e-learning tutorial is answering the worries and questions a customer might have. Hence the MARC O’POLO RFID team had prepared the staff with typical questions from an end customer and given them ready answers, so they would feel comfortable with the technology.
What often impresses people about RFID is the possibility to have reliable shared stock data on a certain item. This allows stores to easily order products, inform customers of the products' whereabouts and availability and never having to face "Not on stock" situations, in which case a loss of sale is quite likely (typically 68% according to international studies). With the help of item-level visibility created by RFID, MARC O’POLO store assistants can visit the online shop together with the end customer and hence drive traffic to online and vice versa. The RESERVE-AND-COLLECT concept introduced in 2014, allows customers to reserve items from online and go try them on in a selected store of their choice. Not only does ‘online’ drive traffic to the stores, but the final shopping basket value of the customer may even be higher than pure online shopping, as the visit to store often results other purchases as well.
ABOUT THE SOLUTION
All through the project, Tailor-IT, a German consultancy company helped MARC O’POLO to define, run and implement the RFID project. Avery Dennison provided MARC O’POLO and its manufacturing partners with RFID enabled price tags to be attached to every item. Nordic ID, a leading European RFID reader manufacturer, enabled the reading of the tags at all points by providing MARC O’POLO with its mobile Nordic ID Merlin readers and Nordic ID Sampo units to read the tags at point-of-sale. Finally, the store exit is monitored with UHF enabled antennas by Kathrein. To manage and make sense of all the data collected, MARC O’POLO uses Detego SUITE 4.0, a business intelligence tool for RFID data management.
- From “not-on-stock-situations” to the “on-the-shelf-availability”
- Supply chain transparency
- Customer experiences in a unified channel
- up-to-the-moment product visibility
- increased on-the-shelf availability
- reliable and shared stock data
- faster receiving and stock taking
- speedy check-out
- increased traffic both online and on store floor