The first frontier hit in 2003 for RFID by Wal-Mart and the DoD the world’s largest private and public supply chains). They both stared RFID-enabled initiatives, having suppliers to start tagging with RFID so tracking goods would be easier in the supply chain. I was slow to progress especially for Wal-Mart At first they thought it would take off like wild fire and many of the suppliers would buy off on the costly adoption of RFID technology. Well as a RFID provider we had supplier and companies contacting our office for RFID solutions none to say we had many proposals delivered with very little sales. Now we have a second wave of Big Box companies wanting their suppliers to adoption RFID, this new surge is for item-level tagging in apparel. With Item level tagging you get investment in the inventory with replenishment to reduce out-of-stocks and overstocks in retail stores.
Item-level Visibility in Retail
Wal-Mart, Macy’s, JCP, American Apparel, plus others are moving in the direction of item-level tagging quickly. 2012 one billion apparel items were tagged. It is projected to grow significantly this year. Macy’s item level tagging for about 30% of all sales of tags. Representing about 30% of their total annual sales. Marks & Spencer is tagging all apparel and home goods products at all of its stores. American Apparel is rolling out RFID to all of their stores. JCP is using RFID with about 35% of their merchandise. High-fashion retailers is rolling out RFID on 100% of their merchandise at all its retail locations + Distribution Centers. The primary reason here is faster timely replenishment decisions at the store shelf. Reducing out-of-stocks at the store has high value. Better overall Inventory control.
Going Elsewhere for Tag or Doing it in house
Now suppliers are required to apply the tag at the point of manufacturing. This has become a vendor compliance requirement for the suppliers to JCP, Macys, American Apparel For many of these suppliers who are SMB( 5-10 million in sales revenue companies) this is big chuck of change. The expensive piece is having the Tags made for you. As a supplier your costs can be double the cost using a Tag manufacturer to print the tags for you. A resource for doing your own Item Level tagging would be MSA Systems Qstock Item Level Tagging solution. This allows the small supplier to print tags in house at about ½ the cost with our software and hardware. The ramp up time is short according to Marc Hernandez with Agron who had to meet this compliance earlier this year with JCP. He states that it took from start to finish about 4 weeks to get the business process going with the warehouse team with the Qstock RFID Item Level Tagging software.