Retail Solutions - HoF mulls source-to-shelf tag tests to boost its RFID strategy

House of Fraser aims to extend item-level RFID tagging into its stores, following in the footsteps of Marks & Spencer.

In March, House of Fraser announced that it will shortly begin a six-month RFID trial to tag goods that it sources from suppliers in Hong Kong.

Until now, the official line on the pilot was that it would only run up to the regional distribution centre.

Speaking at the recent Checkpoint RFID Summit 2004 conference in Barcelona, House of Fraser head of loss prevention Jerry Carter said the trial would provide 'great traceability of units' between items being tagged in Hong Kong and arriving at the group's regional distribution centre in the UK.

Carter said the trial, which will be conducted with Checkpoint and Exel Logistics, could be extended beyond the distribution centre to include the tracking of goods into stores, following an initial evaluation.

'We'd like to develop tagging on smart shelves and work it in conjunction with CCTV, so if several items are picked up by the customer, then it will be known to us,' he said.

Should this extension to the pilot go ahead, it will be the most sophisticated RFID project in the UK retail sector. No other retailer has so far admitted plans to track products tagged at source right through to the shelf.

Carter said he had highlighted 10 departments - such as sunglasses - within the group's stores that would be most suitable for using RFID technology to prevent theft.