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More Apparel Retailers Want to Jump Into the RFID Game

To help companies get up to speed quickly, RFID Journal LIVE! will provide retail workshops and tracks, featuring practical information and real-world case studies.
By Mark Roberti
Mar 02, 2015

Every month, it becomes clearer that adoption of radio frequency identification is ramping up in the apparel retail sector. As I pointed out in the Nov./Dec. 2014 issue of this magazine, 2014 stood out as a year in which many retailers worldwide announced plans to introduce or expand item-level initiatives to improve inventory accuracy (see Apparel Edges Toward the Tipping Point). Already this year, Marc O'Polo, a German casual apparel company, announced that it had adopted an RFID solution to track its products across the entire supply chain, from its distribution center to 86 of its stores throughout Europe. And the buzz at the National Retail Federation conference, which took place in January in New York City, was about RFID and omnichannel shopping.

Meanwhile, some retailers that have deployed RFID to improve inventory accuracy are now using the technology to gain a competitive advantage (see Building on Retail's RFID Foundation and Second to None). Apparel retailers that have been watching these developments from the sidelines are now showing more interest in deploying the technology. In fact, many now realize they are behind the curve and have to get up to speed quickly.

Photo: Tom Hurst/RFID Journal
To meet this growing interest, RFID Journal is expanding its coverage of the retail sector at its annual RFID Journal LIVE! conference and exhibition, which will be held on Apr. 15 to 17 in San Diego, Calif. There will be a strong focus on education, and retailers that have deployed RFID will discuss the benefits they're achieving and why they're rolling out the technology to additional stores.

One session in the Item-Level Retail and Apparel Workshop will provide an introduction to the fundamentals of the technology. Another session will explain the tagging guidelines, developed by the GS1 US Item–Level RFID workgroup, for passive UHF RFID based on the Electronic Product Code standards. The guidelines for where to place tags, what types of tags are suitable for certain products and other critical issues are designed to smooth RFID adoption for retailers.

Rupert Thorpe, senior manager for selling support development at John Lewis, a leading U.K. department store, will explain how the retailer integrated RFID and its legacy systems, enabling it to track and manage 25,000 SKUs across selected fashion assortments. Thorpe will also discuss how John Lewis plans to roll out item-level RFID to more stores in 2015.

In addition, a panel of retailers—including Richard Jenkins, head of RFID strategic development at Marks & Spencer, and Joseph Granato, director of global initiatives at Lululemon Athletica—will discuss how and where they are benefiting from using RFID technology today and which applications will deliver additional benefits once all items are tagged.

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