A Framework for RFID Compatibility in a Fashion Retail Supply Chain : A Case Study in a Swedish Fashion Retailer
Abstract: In recent years supply chain management has undergone significant and rapid changes, these changes are driven by several factors including the business environment, globalization, internet-based systems technological advances and increased demands to deliver better operational performance. These changes have included the increased use of internet-based systems and new technological tools, and one widely discussed technology is Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). We are writing on commission for a Swedish fashion retailer that is currently using barcodes but RFID implementation has been discussed for several years but never been prioritized. Previous literature has mainly focused on RFID as a technology and listed conceptual benefits such as increased sales and profit, labour cost savings, inventory control etc. We recognized a research gap in what makes the RFID implementation compatible with the company implementing the technology. This research gap is addressed by further investigating how a fashion retail supply chain can implement RFID and what aspects that need to be considered. Since the benefits of RFID cannot be generalized, we find it necessary to study the implementation compatibility of a specific organization, in this case a fashion retailer. The main purpose of this degree project was to gain a deeper understanding of how RFID implementation can be compatible with a fashion retail supply chain. Compatibility can be difficult to conceptualize, hence, to fulfill our purpose we mapped out compatibility aspects that we later analyzed with our empirical findings. We identified six compatibility aspects, which we summarized as following; technology, resources, capabilities, attitude, expectations and value. We performed a qualitative study to fulfill the main purpose, since we wanted to understand the internal perspectives of RFID technology in a fashion supply chain. Our aim with the qualitative study was to understand the strategic feasibility of RFID applications within our commissioned company and how they perceived its impacts. We conducted seven semistructured interviews with employers from different departments at the company we are studying and one RFID expert. When comparing the findings from the qualitative data collection with the aspects of compatibility together with the literature used in this study, we were able to conclude that RFID is reasonably compatible in the supply chain of a fashion retailer. Though we found that the compatibility is very dependent on what the goal is with the implementation. If there is no clear goal, it is hard to measure whether the implementation of RFID is compatible or not since the company does not know in what direction they are going and due to the unknown goal does not have a clear picture of what they are going to measure.
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