Dutch Bookseller Takes RFID To Item Level

BGN is one of the first merchants to tag individual books, in a new line of stores branded "Selexyz."

Elena Malykhina, Technology Journalist

June 17, 2006

1 Min Read

Full-fledged item-level RFID deployments are few and scattered, but a handful of retailers have done it. Boekhandels Groep Nederland, a 42-store book merchant in the Netherlands, recently launched its first RFID-enabled store in its new line of Selexyz stores in Almere, a suburb of Amsterdam. A central book warehouse, which ships about 90% of Selexyz's inventory, began tagging books in March; about 38,000 books have been tagged to date.

Selexyz tapped Progress Software for a back-office system that handles RFID data management. The retailer deployed CaptureTech labels, antennas, readers, and scanners; 3Com wireless and networking components; and a central server and server blade hardware from Dell, for a total IT investment of $100,000. Since individual books are tagged and tracked, there's less chance of lost inventory, says Jan Vink, Selexyz's IT director. The company takes inventory during opening hours, and customers can quickly find which books are in stock. One tool lets customers look for books using natural-language query technology at in-store kiosks.

Selexyz will deploy RFID in a second store in October and plans a broader rollout next year. Item-level tagging is 99.5% reliable, compared with 65% for other tracking methods, Vink says, adding that some other European booksellers are interested in item-level tagging. U.S. retailers such as Wal-Mart lead the way when it comes to tagging pallets and cases. But European retailers are out front on item-level tagging and leveraging data collected by point-of-sale apps, garment sorters, and other systems. Tesco and Marks & Spencer in the United Kingdom and German retailer Metro have limited deployments of RFID chips on individual products.

Return to the story:
Nonretail Businesses Take Lead With Item-Level RFID

About the Author(s)

Elena Malykhina

Technology Journalist

Elena Malykhina began her career at The Wall Street Journal, and her writing has appeared in various news media outlets, including Scientific American, Newsday, and the Associated Press. For several years, she was the online editor at Brandweek and later Adweek, where she followed the world of advertising. Having earned the nickname of "gadget girl," she is excited to be writing about technology again for InformationWeek, where she worked in the past as an associate editor covering the mobile and wireless space. She now writes about the federal government and NASA’s space missions on occasion.

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