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Nordic ID Top Italian jewellery chain streamlines operation with RFID

Since 1896 Matranga has been the symbol of fine jewellery in Sicily, with shops in Palermo and Trapani. The company is renowned for its designs and beautiful custom pieces, making it a favourite among the royal families of Europe. Matranga also carries a wide range of prestigious brands including Rolex, of which they are the most important dealer in southern Italy.

A balancing act

With total retail space of over 400 square metres and a turnover of 5 million € per year, Matranga is an impeccably managed operation. Like any large jeweller, they stock a good number of high value items, making inventory balance one of the key factors in profitability: having enough selection on one hand, and on the other not carrying dead stock in the warehouse (In Matranga’s case, a safe).

Further refining this balance was the impetus behind Jewel-ID, a custom RFID solution implemented in July 2011. The system was designed by RFID consultancy Dynamic ID based in Saviano, Italy. Softwork, a Value Added Distributor (VAD) of RFID architectures, supplied the technology package, of which Nordic ID Merlin mobile computers formed a part.

The thrust of Jewel ID was to come to better grips with an average inventory of 5,000 Rolex watches and 3,000 rings, necklaces, bracelets and other individual pieces of jewellery. Before Jewel-ID, a general inventory of the 2 stores and warehouse was onerous, demanding an entire day of three people, and was performed every three months.

RFID to the rescue

To keep better track of the 8,000 items, white RFID tags designed and produced especially for the jewellery sector were attached to each piece, making it uniquely identifiable at a distance. All information relating to each product was recorded on tags and in the database: its provenance, its exact location in the store, when it entered the store system, and other details. Reports after each inventory count can now show whether pieces have been lost or stolen, or if they have been sitting for too long and perhaps need promoting or discounting.

Inventory can be counted in two ways: by placing a tray of jewellery on top of a fixed reader, or with a Nordic ID Merlin mobile RFID computer. With the tray method, 30 tagged pieces are placed on a counter, which reads all products within three to four seconds and displays the last date and location that each tag was read.
Another valuable Jewel-ID plus is analytics: each piece’s history is stored in the database—things like sale date, price and provenance. Naturally, this information can help optimize replenishment

A technical hurdle

Once the implementation was running smoothly, Matranga added wedding gifts to Jewel-ID—an additional 4,000 items on average, for a grand total of 12,000 items in stock.

Whenever a couple comes in to choose the gifts they wished to receive for their wedding, Matranga staff place the items on a counter equipped with a static RFID reader, automatically creating a digital version of the entire wish list. As relatives buy these items at Matranga, ordered items arrive at the warehouse and are equipped with RFID tags, showing as ‘bought, in stock’ on the registry list.
The system works very well, with one exception. Metallic objects, especially ferrous cutlery and silverware, affect reading performance. The problem was solved by attaching tags to items with a decorative string, establishing some distance between the tag and the metal, and by placing the RFID tag inside the box in the case of cutlery and similar items.

Excellent results

Creating and filling a wedding list is now a more accurate, less laborious process. So are inventory counts, which used to take 24 man-hours and now require just one hour—a 96% timesavings. Less time spent in the vault also has positive security implications. Most important of all, moving from quarterly to weekly counts gives a more accurate reading on inventory and enables much better inventory planning and timely ordering.

Searching for items on store shelves is now much simpler and faster as well. With the help of Matranga’s Nordic ID Merlin mobile computers, staff can select parameters such as price range, type of item and brand. When the item is scanned, the mobile computer emits a sound.

Matranga’s CEO Giuseppe Serafini calculates the return on his investment at less than one year: “The increase in efficiency is so extreme that it can be compared to the evolutionary transition from the musket to the machine gun!"

Matranga’s RFID system: the components
The RFID ecosystem in Matranga stores works on UHF passive frequency and is composed by

·                Customized passive UHF tags with MONZA3 chips

·                Readers and antennas embedded in counters

·                RFID printer

·                Nordic ID Merlin mobile computers