Havaianas is a finalist of the RFID Journal Awards

Alpargatas, owner of the Brazilian slippers company, launched the RFID pilot in its operation in California and has already increased sales with Seeonic’s platform

Edson Perin

Brazilian Alpargatas, the brand owner of slippers Havaianas, available in over 300,000 retail outlets worldwide, is interested in leveraging radio frequency identification (RFID) and intelligent automation to achieve strategic gains in its business. “We are launching this solution in the United States (USA), throughout the country, with the objective of carrying out the global implementation, in a next step”, says the company in an official statement. Havaianas is a finalist of the RFID Journal Awards.

Seeonic’s patented RetailConnect technology platform provided Alpargatas with the ability to run automatic vendor-managed inventory (a-VMI) through product scanning, automatic inventory counting, and Google ads that direct online shoppers to nearby physical retailers stocked with desired products. Alpargatas also aims to leverage RetailConnect to unlock other strategic business objectives, including accelerating growth and optimizing commission. RetailConnect enables a small corporate team to do more business remotely, increasing sales at a lower cost.

Havaianas’ sales representatives can focus on capturing new customers and larger accounts, increasing the company’s market share. “We want to lead the industry by offering retailers the Havaianas RetailConnect advantage, with displays that are always full and never overcrowded, data-driven product curation, with Google’s search integration, that takes online shoppers to brick-and-mortar stores,” says the company.

RetailConnect displays placed in stores work as remote, real-time demand for the consumer. This can eventually allow the Brazilian market to run a high-efficiency direct distribution model, reducing dependence on large third-party distribution organizations, thus increasing profit margins.

Havaianas started working with Seeonic in 2020, with an untethered RFID solution utilizing ultra-low power, battery-operated cellular technology that did not require the retail customer’s ethernet or WiFi network.This was crucial for mass-scalability as it would be very difficult for retailers to manage thousands of ethernet cables or WiFi passwords across the nation. Seeonic, with its RetailConnect cloud platform, also offered enough flexibility to allow it to integrate the SAP system, in use by Havaianas.

With RetailConnect linked to Google Search Local Inventory Ads provide an important differentiating resource for the slippers company and is very attractive feature to acquire new and larger retail customers which will not need to perform any integration tasks. Havaianas North America forged the relationship with Seeonic and University of Minnesota,to codeveloped several Return on Investment (ROI) models.

Havaianas RFID project includes a team composed of management, sales, marketing, operations and IT. They all worked together to roll out the program to retailers in the field, as well as market it at national fairs. The company also conducted in-person seminars with its field sales force, training them to use RetailConnect.

As Havaianas products sit on displays, Seeonic’s technology is fixed, and the RFID tags required substantial RF testing to ensure 100% read rates. Seeonic managed the selection of RFID inlays, antennas and radio parameters to achieve this. Havaianas has thousands of SKUs and it was imperative to select the test product that contained the most problematic materials for RFID, such as rubbers with a higher carbon content or metal trim. Tests were performed on real displays.

“We were able to achieve 100% reliable read rates in the lab,” a Seeonic spokesperson attested, “and we independently verified the same through Havaianas sales representatives in field deployments in real retail stores.”

The field test was launched in 2020 and 2021 in California. Thus, it was determined that the technology worked very well, without the need for field technicians to activate it, reaching 100% read rates, according to the corporate and sales teams. Thanks to this, there was a sales lift of 135%, on average, in products’ sales.

There are a number of additional benefits related to the automation of RetailConnect, which contrasts with the company’s fulfillment in the traditional sales system. Thus, in summary, Havaianas achieved, in addition to the 135% growth in market share, an increase in the performance of sales representatives. For retailers who sell the flip-flops brand, the showroom displays are never sold out; Google search takes online shoppers to physical stores effortlessly. Brand representatives, on the other hand, need to do less work and less travels to achieve their goals.

Seeonic’s SightWare family of Untethered RFID readers was used in conjunction with its Boresight family of RFID antennas. Avery Dennison’sAD310 inlaywas adopted with the print-encode configuration at Havaianas distribution facilities. There was no need for hardware customization, however, RFID tag printing was customized, with custom antenna tuning as well as software interfaces.

Core technology has been pre-installed on standard retail accessories prior to shipping to retail. Upon arrival, the store staff simply puts the accessory in place as usual. No plug-ins and no network technicians were needed to interface with each store’s network. Any retailer can place an accessory wherever they want and make it work, effortlessly.

Seeonic’s RetailConnect cloud platform is the primary software platform, which manages the entire SightWare network of deployed devices and handles all item-level data processing. It then integrates with Havaianas’ in-house SAP business management systems as well as distribution systems. Seeonic also created special mobile apps that allows sales reps to instantly visualize field service needs and act immediately to replenish locations that are out of stock or that can benefit from an update to their product curation.

The first two pilot phases took approximately one year to complete – development and testing. The pilot stores remain online and Havaianas has signed a three-year contract to put 400 stores in operation, with launches scheduled for the course of 2022.

Once the initial US production release is complete, more may be added. Applications in Brazil and the rest of the world will also be considered. Due to the nature of RetailConnect equipment, retailers do not need any training or other knowledge to make use of the solution. All they need is to physically wheel the retail fixture wherever they want in their store.