Is RFID finally ready for prime time at retail?
For some time, it has seemed that RFID for retailing has been thought of as a good idea that was not quite ready for prime time. Sure, RFID is appropriate for preventing theft of high value jewelry and clothing, but maybe not much else, due mainly to the high cost of tags, labor, equipment and implementation.
Maybe the tide has turned. At this week’s RFID Journal Live!, many providers and some retailers made the case that the time is now. Rich Haig, CIO/CTO/MIS Director of Herman Kay, maker of such brands as London Fog, Anne Klein, DVF and Michael Kors, has implemented a five-step RFID deployment program enabling them to track garments at every step of the production and shipping process. (Herman Kay sells to Macy’s, Nordstrom, Hudson’s Bay, J.C. Penney and others.)
RFID enables Herman Kay to verify picked quantities and ensure the accuracy of colors and styles that are boxed. It also enables the company to verify loads are on the right outbound trucks and ensure proper receipt of goods. Electronic proof of delivery helps to reduce chargebacks. Soon, the company will scan goods going into containers at the factory, so they can better anticipate goods they will be receiving and reduce paperwork.
Other brands and retailers are using RFID to track items in stores as well. Tags are getting cheaper, more flexible and easier to apply or embed. Fujitsu has UHF technology allowing hundreds of tags to be read at once and tags that can be used on linen that can be repeatedly washed and bent.
Lululemon increased its inventory accuracy to 98 percent by deploying RFID across all stores, tracking product movement as it arrives at stores, is placed on display and later sold. Macy’s has implemented RFID to better understand when to re-order based on what’s really left on the shelves and trimming $1B in store inventory in the process. All the retailers cited claim to reduce out of stocks while delivering sales lift.
- RFID Brings Lululemon’s Inventory Accuracy to 98 Percent – RFID Journal
- Macy’s Launches Pick to the Last Unit Program for Omnichannel Sales – RFID Journal
- Over 25 percent Of Top UK Retailers Now Using RFID Tags, Says GS1 – European Supermarket Magazine
- Analysis: Automation and the future of the retail workforce – Retail Week
Have the costs and benefits of implementing RFID technology reached a point where most retailers should get serious about implementing it throughout the supply chain, including in stores? What do you see as the biggest hurdles to implementation left when it comes to RFID?