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Italian RFID Lab Gets Fashion-Forward
The University of Parma facility is working with a number of clothing and accessory manufactures and retailers to stitch together the business benefits of RFID technology.
Aug 13, 2008—The RFID Lab at Italy's University of Parma has been attracting an haute couture crowd of late. In fact, a representative from Dolce & Gabbana has joined the lab's board of advisors—along with representatives from 12 other Italian clothing and accessory manufactures and retailers, who have convened with the lab to learn more about RFID technology, and to determine how it can be employed to streamline their supply chain processes and improve efficiencies.
Roberto Montanari, a professor of industrial plants at the university, will address the third annual RFID in Fashion conference in New York on Thursday, to discuss two projects the lab has been conducting. While the projects are focused on specific business processes, Montanari says, the lab and its fashion board members have seven overall goals. These goals, he explains, are to measure the impacts of item-level tagging on retail business processes; determine the most appropriate tag construction for specific needs; gauge the impact of item-level tagging on the perceptions and purchasing behavior of consumers who are the fashion companies' customers; test the tags' performance; determine the usefulness of RFID as a tool to deter the sale of counterfeit garments to the public; assess the environmental impacts of large-scale tagging; and ascertain whether RFID can be deployed to effectively reduce shoplifting.
"I think this is a powerful tool for the fashion industry," Montanari says. "The benefits that the members hope to gain by using RFID are strategic (reducing out-of-stocks and fighting counterfeit products, for example); operational (things like automating inventory, automating item counting for receive/shipping); and store-level benefits (such as improved stock replenishment, better customer service, better product availability, less shoplifting)."
One of the lab's recent pilots involved Coccinelle, a manufacturer of high-end handbags and other accessories. According to Montanari, the pilot consisted of two separate tests: a technology test and a feasibility study.
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