Retailers Pursue Item-Level RFID
The radio frequency identification (RFID) bandwagon appears
to be filling up quickly. Several reports and press releases hit this week
expounding on the wonderfulness of item-level RFID and the number of merchants
that are seeing marked improvement in inventory management and sales as a result
of the technology.
According to research done by the University of Arkansas,
- improved inventory accuracy rates from an average of 62 percent to more
than 95 percent;
- increased the number of items that can be counted in an hour from 200 to
- reduced out-of-stocks by as much as 50 percent.
"For perhaps the first time in retail history, retailers can fulfill the
promise of getting the right product to the right store at the right time for
their customers," said Professor Bill Hardgrave, founder of the RFID Research
Center at the University of Arkansas and dean of Auburn University’s College
of Business, in a statement. "This is thanks to standardized RFID technology
and the high level of inventory accuracy it brings."
A report by Stores magazine
cited a number of examples of RFID helping to improve performance. A test at
Dillard’s achieved an improvement in inventory accuracy of 17 percent while
time savings was pegged at 96 percent. American Apparel, which tags all merchandise
in its stores, reports 99 percent accuracy in inventory and a jump of 14 percent
"Skeptics have tried for years to dismiss RFID projects as too expensive
or too complex, but RFID is now finally getting its day in the sun," Marshall
Kay, founder of RFID Sherpas, told Stores. "Proceeding with RFID
should already be a no-brainer for specialty apparel retailers. They have the
ability to accelerate more quickly than department stores because they have
much more control over their suppliers."
Earlier this week, GS1 announced
the founding of the Item Level RFID Initiative, which will bring together retailers
and suppliers committed to promote the adoption of item-level RFID in apparel
"The retail sector stands on the brink of a key technology shift, and
members of the Item Level RFID Initiative believe that now is the time for
the entire industry to move toward a more efficient system for manufacturing,
supplying, selling and buying products," said Art Smith, CEO, GS1 Canada.
Discussion Questions: Are there any impediments left to the adoption of
item-level RFID in clothing stores? Are there other categories where RFID
at the item level does or doesn’t make sense?
- Ready (Finally) for Item-Level Deployment – Stores
- Retailers and Manufacturers Announce Joint Effort to Advance Use of Item Level
RFID – GS1