French sporting goods retailer Decathlon has expanded its use of RFID labelling to around 85% of its own-brand product line as part of plans to streamline and improve tracking. 

The company, which sells more than 600m products annually, has a network of around 900 stores across Europe, Africa, South America and Asia. As a result, Decathlon began employing RFID technology in 2010 to manage what it says is a global complex supply chain.

Five years into the deployment, Decathlon says the technology showed gains within the whole supply chain, including "significant" improvements on inventory tracking and shelf availability. The company now carries out a full store inventory as often as every 1-4 weeks depending on the store, instead of twice per year using barcodes. 

Overall product visibility have improved and labour costs have been reduced, Decathlon says, with improvement on product availability and a reduction in lost sales. 

Decathlon chose Tageos RFID labels, which are made of 100% paper and devoid of plastic, using a globally patented manufacturing process. The absence of plastic and the reduced amount of glue and metal required during the label manufacturing has helped the retailer in reducing its ecological footprint. 
The company's RFID solution is integrated into all steps of its supply chain. The factories, more than 40 distribution centres, and more than 900 stores are equipped with and reap the benefits of RFID, it says. 

Decathlon began the source-tagging of all its own branded products at the manufacturing plants in 2013. RFID labels were placed on items during the manufacturing process, encoded with a unique identification number stored in the retailer's database. 

"Our labels come at reduced price compared to the market's average," says Tageos CEO Matthieu Picon. "This helped Decathlon to deploy a cost-effective RFID solution. The labels have been designed and manufactured in our French plant, and have all passed a strict quality testing process."