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Where to start your RFID implementation? Many fashion retailers ask themselves this question. In this Q&A, Lucia Fratarcangeli, Implementation Specialist at Nedap Retail, explains how an RFID implementation works, how to align internal teams and what pitfalls to avoid.
Daphne: Hi and welcome to our new episode of our RFID Q&A. My name is Daphne and I am a business developer and RFID Enthusiast at Nedap Retail. Today, I will be interviewing Lucia. Welcome, Lucia. Do you want to give a small introduction about yourself?
Lucia: Sure, thanks, Daphne. As Daphne mentioned, my name is Lucia, and I am an implementation consultant at Nedap Retail. So, I help to roll out ID Cloud to new customers.
Daphne: Thank you for your introduction. Today, I'm going to interview you about the deployment of RFID at a retailer. So, can you explain what happens after a retailer starts with the implementation of RFID?
Lucia: What happens after a retailer decides to use RFID and iD Cloud specifically is they are assigned a dedicated implementation consultant like myself at Nedap Retail. So, we act as the main point of contact for the retailer and also as a guide throughout the implementation process of iD Cloud.
Lucia: One of the first steps is we review our project plan. We have a template of what the project plan will look like, and of course, every retailer will customize this a little bit based on their needs and how many functionalities they are rolling out. We start off with a few workshops. The first workshop is generally to review the in-store processes of the retailer so that we can fully understand the ins and outs and provide best practices and use cases of what RFID will look like in their stores.
Lucia: Next, we also do an IT workshop. Here we bring in our integration specialist to review all of the APIs, our developer portal, and what the IT portion of the project will look like. That integration specialist will also be available throughout the project to help with questions and the IT portion of things.
Lucia: Another important step is to order and set up both the hardware and labels. So, we're not fully involved in this part because, of course, there are other vendors, but we do assist with providing best practices and recommendations.
Lucia: We also help to advise on what tagging method will be used. So, if the retailer is new to RFID and needs to tag up all of their stores, then we assist with what's the best way to do this. We also advise on best practices in general and what we like to call our guiding principles.
Lucia: For example, some guiding principles around training are "train the trainer" and "cascaded approach." The way that this works is the "Train the trainer" - a lot of retailers use this to train out other processes as well. They choose some dedicated trainers, this is what we usually call Master Champions, and those Champions will be trained first. And once they're comfortable with RFID and ID Cloud, they will then train out the next set of trainers. So, this is kind of how the cascaded approach works.
Lucia: As we usually advise on choosing three different sets of groups of stores to be trained. So, we have the Master Champions, the Regional Champions, and then the Local Champions. Each Cascade trains the next Cascade once they have really become masters of ID Cloud.
Lucia: So, there is a fixed process of implementation when a retailer starts with RFID.
Daphne: And how long does an implementation take on average, and what factors do influence this process?
Lucia: Yeah, so this can definitely vary by retailer. There's a lot of factors that can influence it. I will say it certainly can be scalable if the retailer chooses to follow our guiding principles of "train the trainer" and "cascaded approach." For example, if these are followed, then the rollout really can take as little as three months, which is what we have seen.
Lucia:We've seen a retailer rollout 700 stores in three months. So, of course, the three months was the rollout portion. One month for the Master Champions, one month for the Regional Champions, one month for the remainder of the stores.
Lucia: There's also, of course, the preparation and IT work phase of the project. This really depends on resource availability and how big the team is on the retailer's side. But it can take as little as one to three months. Again, this depends very much on resource availability. Usually, it's very hands-on for the IT department, Store Ops, and also training teams. These are the most crucial, but also other teams such as the support desk team are also very important.
Lucia: I will say another factor that can influence the speed of an RFID rollout is the tagging method that's used. We usually recommend using printers for in-store tag-up if there are goods that have not been tagged. This is just the smoothest and quickest method, and most foolproof to tag up a store. So, if stores are being packed up in this way, and each store has a few printers, then that three-month guideline is certainly feasible.
Lucia: We also recommend setting up fast tagging in the DC. This can help to tag legacy stock and make sure that less tagging needs to be done in-store. So, it really depends on the retailer how long an implementation takes, and it also depends on some factors.
Daphne: If you're going through an implementation process, what are the common pitfalls that you see?
Lucia: Yeah, so definitely one of the biggest ones that I was alluding to is that resource allocation. If the retailer does not have the right resources available or lined up, then however long it takes to get those resources, well, is how long the project will be delayed. So, again, really the IT team is really crucial because that is generally the first part of the project. And then the training team as well is very crucial. If they put in the effort during the preparation phase of the project, then they will most likely have a very smooth deployment.
Lucia: Another pitfall that we see is sometimes internal alignment between the teams or departments on the retailer's end. So, if there are teams that are not communicating with each other or they're not aligned on certain decisions that they're making, this can, of course, delay the timeline a bit. So, what we do on our end to help with this is we set up weekly calls with the retailer team, with the core project team, to ensure that everyone is on track and aligned. And we keep tabs on all the decisions and milestones that need to be met to make sure that the decisions are, in fact, being made and everyone agrees and is aligned on these.
Lucia: We also do require someone that is acting as a project manager on the retailer side. So, this can also help to keep everyone on track. And this can either be a true project manager or just a team lead that acts as the project manager.
Lucia: And then I would say another final one, pretty big pitfall that can be important is engagement. So, if the core project team and the stores are not engaged, then the rollout will not be very successful, and we'll see lower adoption rates. So, coming up with an engagement strategy to make sure that everyone understands how important the project is and also what the benefits are for them is very important to make sure that the project will be successful.
Daphne: So, there are a few common pitfalls that you see, but they can easily be avoided if you give them the right attention.
Daphne: If a retailer decides to switch from a vendor if they're already using RFID, is this something that is easy to do?
Lucia: Yeah, it definitely can be easy to do. There are a few important things to keep in mind. One is, of course, the IT work will need to be done again. The integrations to our platform need to be done, so certainly IT resources need to be allocated. And then they will also need to retrain their stores because, of course, our solution is slightly different from other solutions.
Lucia: So, the good news is that the hardware and the labels are typically already in place if a retailer is already using RFID with a different vendor. So, this means that no tagging parties are needed, and also stores are already educated on RFID. So, they don't need to relearn what RFID is; they just need to learn what the differences and the nuances will be with iD Cloud. Typically, the main focus for the training team, the Store Ops team, is on change management and how to make that successful. And, of course, we are there to help out with this to make sure that they are successful.
Lucia: So, it's important to re-emphasize the benefits of RFID, of course, and also explain why iD Cloud, in particular, will be easier to use. The other good news is that our solution is very user-friendly. So, it typically is easy to learn. And we've been told that when there are retailers that switch from different vendors, the stores are always very relieved and happy to be using iD Cloud because it's just so much easier and user-friendly.
Daphne: So, you're saying that if you want to switch vendors, that it is important to reallocate the IT resources, and the change management is important because they need to get used to a new platform to work on.
Daphne: And what happens after implementation, and how does support work?
Lucia: Yeah, definitely. So, once deployment is complete, the implementation consultant will step out of the project, and we will hand the retailer over to our customer success team. So, of course, we'll have a meeting to do a formal handover, introduce the customer success manager, and in the next phase of the customer journey, which is the customer success phase, the customer success team will ensure that the customer is, what we like to say, "using the hell out of ID Cloud." So, we really want to make sure that stores are using everything they possibly can, as much as the retailer wants them to be using.
Lucia: We also want the users to be happy and to love our app. So, customer success will work with the retailer to ensure that. And then another portion of the customer success phase is often working on feature expansion and future RFID roadmap for the customer. So, depending on where the retailer wants to go with RFID, customer success will be there to help them achieve those goals.
Lucia: And then on the support side of things, throughout the entire customer journey, we have a really, really amazing support team. They are always there to help out with the more technical side of things. So, we really have a whole bunch of expert teams that are there to help out throughout the entire journey. We have our support team, our solution experts, our integrations team, our product team, a whole bunch of really great experts. They start with the customer during the implementation phase, but then they are kind of that common thread that continues into the customer success phase as well. So, they're always available to help with things such as advising on best practices, solving operational challenges that arrive, helping with change management strategies, troubleshooting technical issues, and more.
Lucia: So, after the RFID implementation, the retailer is handed over to customer success and support, and they are more than willing to help them and ensure that they are using the best out of ID Cloud.
Daphne: So, Lucia, thank you very much for sharing your experience regarding the deployments of RFID, and I hope to see you next time again.
Lucia: Likewise. Thanks, Daphne.
Daphne: And I also would like to thank the audience. I hope to see you next time again. Bye!