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RFID Adoption by Apparel Retailers Gains Momentum

American Apparel, in the United States, as well as Kaufauf, NP Collection and other European companies, are proving that the technology's benefits are just too big to be ignored.
By Mark Roberti
A new interactive RFID price tag developed by VRF Holdings, which employs electronic paper, could make price changes automatically. Retailers could even increase a price when goods are selling more quickly than expected.

RFID is also being combined with electronic article surveillance; when items are stolen, retailers will know what was stolen so that they can replenish them. And some retailers are experimenting with kiosks that enable customers to read an RFID tag, get information about the item and determine which colors, styles and sizes are in stock. These kiosks can even recommend shoes and accessories to go with a particular dress or pair of pants.

Charles Vögele Group, a fashion chain in Switzerland, is one of the first apparel retailers to utilize RFID from the point of manufacture in Asia to the point of sale. Thomas Beckmann, the retailer's head of supply chain and logistics, will explain how the system was deployed, and why, as well as the benefits being achieved, at RFID Journal LIVE! The company, along with American Apparel and the State of Hawaii Department of Agriculture, is an RFID Journal Award finalist for best RFID implementation.

These are exciting deployments that reveal just how significant the benefits are for apparel retailers. Tomorrow's Mother, a maternity apparel company, was picked as an RFID Journal Award finalist for the most innovative use of RFID, for a system enabling it to monitor inventory on standalone displays without requiring electrical power or an Ethernet connection (see Maternity Apparel Maker Gives Birth to Smart Displays in Stores). Other major rollouts are also under way, but have not yet been made public.

Many retailers are still adjusting to the new economic conditions, and might be too stunned to launch a major new technology deployment. But as apparel retailers accept the new reality—that sales will not return to 2007 levels for a couple of years—they will look to technologies such as RFID to reduce labor costs and improve sales. I'm willing to bet on it.

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 or click here.

USER COMMENTS

James Wright 2009-04-01 06:46:04 AM
P/A - Warehouse Application Specialist Anyone considering RFID for apparel should read the feasibility study done by the Sam Walton School of Business at the University of Arkansas. This study done on RFID item level tagging for apparel and footwear. It is available by request from the following website. http://waltoncollege.uark.edu/faculty/search.asp?type=research&group=ITRI&letter=&id=&search=&page=1&action=n The paper would seem to indicate that RFID for apparel is not quite ready for all applications.

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