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A Big Idea for Smaller Companies

Large and small firms alike now see the benefits of tracking their assets via radio frequency identification.
By Mark Roberti
Dec 16, 2015

When I launched RFID Journal out of a spare bedroom in my home in 2002, it was with a single mission: to help companies learn to use radio frequency identification technologies to track and manage literally everything. That mission was not limited by industry, geographic region or company size. I knew RFID could help just about all entities needing to identify, locate and better manage their stuff.

For most of the past decade and a half, the interest in RFID has come from large firms that need to track numerous parts bins, jigs, tools, returnable transport items and other assets. But during the past year or two, that's begun to change. I've been getting frequent inquiries from smaller organizations that want to improve the way they track and manage items.

One reason small firms are considering RFID is that they are hearing about successful large deployments, such as those by Kohl's, Macy's, Target and other major retailers. News stories about using RFID to manage apparel and footwear and improve inventory accuracy show that RFID works. Another reason is small companies are always under competitive pressure, and they don't have large numbers of employees to locate and count assets.

As our cover story in this issue shows, the "stuff" small businesses and even nonprofits want to track ranges from watches in a repair shop to beds, computers and lawnmowers at a long-term care facility and files in a law firm (see RFID Asset-Tracking for Small Organizations). The story examines what it takes for small companies to make the most of RFID and the solutions available in the marketplace today.

Dress for Success Worldwide, for example, is a nonprofit that provides women with professional attire and support to help them achieve economic independence. The South Central PA affiliate wanted to improve inventory management at its three locations and in its mobile unit. The organization deployed an RFID solution to improve efficiencies and better serve clients. Now, when donated items are received, they are tagged and the information is entered in a database so inventory can be shared among the nonprofit's sites.

Specialty retailers are also paying attention to those major retailer deployments. Sporting goods and health-and-beauty shops, for example, are adopting RFID to manage seasonal items and reduce theft (see Riding the Tails of Apparel Retailers). At the same time, department stores are expanding their RFID-tagging initiatives to home goods and other nonapparel items.

Thirteen years ago, I didn't think retailers would need to rely on RFID to lure shoppers to their stores. And I didn't imagine the new world of omnichannel retailing that would compel companies to improve inventory accuracy in order to deliver an anytime, anywhere shopping experience to consumers (see Perspective). But it's gratifying to see that large and small firms alike now see the benefits of RFID-tracking their stuff—and that lower costs and improved technologies have made that possible.

Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal. If you would like to comment on this article, click on the link below. To read more of Mark's opinions, visit the RFID Journal Blog, the Editor's Note archive or RFID Connect.

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