ramp rfid thread together

How RAMP RFID helped charity, Thread Together, with inventory management

Spearheading change in Aussie charity’s inventory management and product distribution channels with RFID technology: a simple solution paves the way forward

Towards the end of last year, RAMP RFID joined hands and partnered with Thread Together, a national Aussie charity that takes excess brand-new clothing donations and redistributes it to people in need. It’s a great initiative that helps thousands of people across Australia, but sometimes even those who are in the business of helping others need a bit of a helping hand themselves!

Thread Together not only had a massive amount of inventory on hand in their warehouses and fulfilment centres, but also a steady stream of incoming donations that needed to be processed, sorted, and stored. I’m glad that we were able to provide such a useful partnership and offer Thread Together, RAMP’s RFID technology, to help them manage their clothing donations. Every week, Thread Together helps over 2,500 people in vulnerable and marginalised families and communities across the country. An efficient and effective inventory management system is an absolute must to be able to coordinate across all their centres so that they can help as many people as possible.

The charity receives product donations from all over Australia from fashion brands that include Calvin Klein, RM Williams, UNIQLO, Under Armour and Lululemon. And while the generosity of these companies is gratefully accepted for redistribution to those in need, it did mean that Thread Together was faced with the mammoth task of sorting through all this brand-new clothing into product categories and sizes by an army of volunteers.

What they needed was a way to sort things quickly and easily so that items could be organised functionally for ease of access. To give you an idea of the scale of operation, since Thread Together began collecting end of line new stock from fashion retailers around Australia, it has helped redistribute more than 5.5 million items to those in need—and this is not even mentioning the benefit of redirecting 5.5 million items from ending up being dumped in landfill.

One of the biggest challenges faced by the charity is the supply-led nature in which they operate compounded further by the seasonal lag of product donations. So, it could be that in the middle of summer, Thread Together would be receiving unsold winter clothes from fashion brands. They then had to sort through and manage the inventory and storage of these items until the right season came along and the items were in need.

To be able to fulfil requests for clothing in a timely manner requires the charity to have accurate knowledge of inventory on hand, size of buffer stock and knowledge where supply exceeds the current and forecast demand profile.

In the past, lack of systems often resulted in situations where Thread Together didn’t have enough of what was needed and ended up having too much of what wasn’t in need. In addition, they often knew that they had particular products in stock, but didn’t have the capability to easily locate them.

This is where we came in.

RFID systems uses radio frequency technology to help retailers and other types of businesses to manage inventory at the press of a button. RAMP’s understanding of the technology and the solution we provided enabled the team at Thread Together to tag new clothing immediately as the donations were received and sorted into categories and sizes. By being able to do this, with ease, they are now able to rapidly determine the amount of inventory on hand; and of equal importance, understand where the items are located.

RAMP’s retail solution can locate where items are at any given time and has been a real game changer for Thread Together helping them to overcome their inventory management problems.

It was a simple yet effective and extremely efficient system to deploy. As with any change, a period of transition needed to occur, but these changeovers happen in a matter of days because the system is easy to master and easy to implement and roll out. All we needed to do was show them how to use RFID tags, RFID readers and RAMP’s own purpose-built, cloud-based RFID solution, Loca.fi retail software to scan, count and track stock on in their warehouse and fulfilment centres.

Using our RFID retail solution, they can now locate where items are at any given time, increasing efficiency and overcoming inventory management problems. The new system also helped them to reduce the time to fulfil requests for clothing by being able to more efficiently and effectively replenish their fulfilment centre.

Once their inventory management system was running smoothly and efficiently, they could go back to doing what matters most to them: providing new clothes to individuals, families and communities doing it tough.

Circumstances and disadvantage should not prevent people from the dignity of accessing clothing. Aside from the humanitarian perspective, this program is also better for the environment by redirecting items that would have ended up in landfill. Wastage is one of earth’s greatest problems, so this has been one very useful solution in our global attempt to be kinder to our planet.

Peter Reinke is CEO at RAMP RFID.

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