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American Apparel's RFID Guru Launches RFID Software Startup RFID_Software RFID_Services

The new company, Truecount, will provide software solutions offering functionality designed specifically to meet the needs of the retail industry.
By Claire Swedberg
Oct 13, 2010Zander Livingston, an RFID evangelist who spearheaded efforts by American Apparel to employ passive EPC Gen 2 RFID tags and readers to expedite the company's operations, has launched his own RFID software firm, known as Truecount Corp.

Having served as American Apparel's director of RFID until March of this year, Livingston knows firsthand how to attach tags to garments, thread Ethernet cable through walls, run power lines and install RFID antennas. He also knows what to do if an RFID system initially fails to provide the accuracy or data required. What's more, he discovered that existing RFID software packages could leave many needs of a retailer unmet, thus forcing a company to perform its own customization.

Zander Livingstone, Truecount's CEO
So in June, Livingston, together with software industry executive Jordan Lampert and enterprise-software architect Paresh Yadav, cofounded Truecount to provide an RFID software package that could address retailers' needs (as opposed to basic systems developed primarily for tagging cartons and pallets), and that could operate with any model of EPC Gen 2 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags and readers, as well as most enterprise resource planning (ERP) and point-of-sale (POS) systems. Since its establishment, the company has begun building a software platform to be piloted in at least two stores of an unnamed U.S. retailer. According to Livingston, Truecount expects to have the pilots in place by the end of 2010, and will announce the results soon thereafter.

Livingston worked for three years at American Apparel, helping to establish an RFID system at some of its stores (see American Apparel Makes a Bold Fashion Statement With RFID, American Apparel Expands RFID to Additional Stores and RFID Delivers Benefits for American Apparel). From his experience at that company, he says, he learned what challenges retailers face when installing an RFID system, including the high cost of hardware and software, as well as integration and customization.

After leaving American Apparel, Livingston began providing consulting services to other retailers, but says he found a shortage of software companies he could recommend to his clients. Most RFID software packages required customization, he explains, whether used for inventory management or security, or at the point of sale. In addition, he says, most software was provided by small firms with names the retailers didn't recognize—which gave them pause. "When you're introducing a big company [retailer] to a small software development shop, the retailer's initial response is no," he states, noting that the out-of-the-box solutions (software packages intended to be complete, with no necessary plug-ins or expansion packages) often required work. "A lot of out-of-the-box solutions are homogenized to address another need [such as tracking goods through supply chain]." They require additional customization to be used by the retailer—and that, he says, can be expensive.

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