Dutch bookseller creates item-level RFID system

Dutch book retailer, Boekhandels Groep Nederland (BGN), late last month launched an item-based radio frequency identification (RFID) tag system at a new store in the Netherlands.

Eventually, BGN will deploy the system throughout its 42 stores, which collectively carry about 2.2 million books. Some 38,400 books have been tagged at the new store, and the company plans to expand the program next to a retail store set to open this October in the Dutch city of Maastricht.

IT director at Netherlands-based BGN, Jan Vink, said the RFID system was budgeted at $US650,000 and that each of the passive tags being affixed to books would cost about $US0.12.

The software used for the project's transaction processing, data processing and integration requirements was licensed from Progress Software.

The system will track a book's shipment status from the warehouse until it arrives at the store. Vink said the expected benefits included cutting the time it took to fulfill orders and making it easier to locate books on store shelves.

BGN has been planning the system since 2003, and work on the project began about two months ago. The company had waited until the latest generation of RFID technology was developed and could guarantee 100 per cent reliability for tracking processes, Vink said.

BGN has long used barcode technology to track books. But with the barcode system, it took store workers 5-7 minutes to scan all the items in a box of 50 books. Using the RFID technology, each box could be scanned in five seconds, Vink said.

The new system also cuts the delivery time for out-of-stock books in half, to two days.

An analyst at Martec International, Brian Hume, said the item-based RFID system could make every part of a retail book business more efficient. For example, he said, the system could reduce lost sales in stores due to book misplacement or theft and help finance department personnel in invoicing tasks.

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