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SML Group Buys Software Company Xterprise

The acquisition will enable SML, one of the largest RFID label manufacturers, to enhance its full solution offerings by including Xterprise's Clarity software.
By Claire Swedberg
Jul 12, 2013

SML Group, a global RFID label manufacturer based in Hong Kong, has acquired controlling interest in Xterprise, an RFID software company based in Carrollton, Texas. Both companies are privately held and have not disclosed the terms of acquisition, including the percentage of interest acquired. The acquisition will enable SML to offer its retail customers a full RFID-based solution with Xterprise software applications, as part of its ViziT program (see RFID News Roundup: SML Group Launches RFID Solutions for Retail Garment and Item Tracking). While SML already provided software solutions prior to its Xterprise acquisition, the firm will now be able to bring application-specific software to ViziT, in order to meet the growing variety of functions that companies in the retail industry wish to employ.

SML Group is one of the largest providers of RFID labels to the retail market for item-level RFID tracking. Its woven and printed labels, both RFID and non-RFID, are used on garments, footwear and other retail products worldwide, while the majority of its customers apply those labels in Asia, where the company is based. According to Philip Calderbank, SML's VP of global RFID, the Xterprise acquisition—which took place on June 26—will allow his firm to grow beyond its current offerings of RFID labels and solutions to specific applications. This includes using RFID to process the receiving of merchandise at a store, verifying the goods within mixed packs (boxes) at warehouses, and generating reports regarding merchandise replenishment on the sales floor and electronic article surveillance (EAS).

Philip Calderbank, SML Group's VP of global RFID

Xterprise's software platform includes the Clarity Advanced Retail System (ARS), which contains five item-level modules for in-store retail applications: verifying shipments, receiving and transfers of merchandise from one store to another; counting inventory and searching out individual RFID tags using handheld readers; generating fulfillment lists, thereby showing a retailer which items it needs to pull from back stock and move onto the sales floor; enabling a retailer to utilize the unique ID number encoded to each tag, in order to conduct sales transactions and reconcile inventory levels based on sales; and commissioning unique IDs and then encoding them to tags. American Apparel, one of Xterprise's key customers, employs all of these modules (see American Apparel Adding 50 More Stores in Aggressive RFID Rollout) at the nearly 300 stores that the vertically integrated clothing company operates. In 2010, Xterprise released Clarity Mobile, a mobile version of its Clarity platform (see Xterprise Releases Mobile RFID Package for Item-Level Tracking). The company claims that its customers have utilized Clarity applications to process more than a billion RFID item-level inventory transactions since 2010. Throughout that time, Xterprise has aimed to build its business and join a larger entity, according to Dean Frew, the company's CEO and founder.

ViziT is the RFID-based brand SML Group offers that, until now, has consisted primarily of ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) Electronic Product Code (EPC) labels for the retail industry, as well as a cloud-based server and distribution and retail software applications. However, Calderbank notes, SML Group has always wanted to provide a more complete software solution that also includes applications such as those being sold by Xterprise. With the acquisition, SML Group will now sell ViziT-branded solutions that include Clarity software and RFID labels.

This is the latest of several acquisitions by SML Group. The company purchased North Carolina label manufacturer CGP Labels in 2012 to broaden its own research and development, and to expand its label-production capabilities further into North America (see SML Group Buys CGP Labels). The firm also partners with reader manufacturers, and can recommend readers for specific installations, making SML what Calderbank describes as "a one-stop shop" for RFID solutions.

Although SML provided software solutions in the past, Calderbank says, the Clarity software offers a more extensive set of functionality that can be included in the ViziT brand.

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