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GS1 US Survey Finds Strong RFID Adoption

The results, released this week, found that 78 percent of retailers received at least some RFID-tagged merchandise (primarily apparel and footwear), with those retailers receiving, on average, 47 percent of those goods with EPC UHF RFID inlays.
By Claire Swedberg
Mar 21, 2015

A survey of product manufacturers and retailers by supply chain standards organization GS1 US has found that among those who are aware of radio frequency identification, the technology's adoption is strong and growing. On average, the research indicates, 40 percent of new items made by manufacturers in that group now have EPC ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags attached to them, while 47 percent of the goods received by retailers in that group are tagged.

The subject of RFID adoption was part of a larger survey known as the "2014 GS1 US Standards Usage Survey," consisting of 801 small and large apparel and general-merchandise companies throughout the United States. The overall survey, carried out last year, focused primarily on the usage of Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs), electronic data interchange (EDI) and advance shipping notices (ASNS). The survey questions related to RFID use were sent only to the 177 respondents who indicated a familiarity with RFID technology. Most respondents who reported such familiarity comprised those who make or sell apparel and footwear and related accessories, accounting for only 22 percent of the 801 participants, suggesting that RFID adoption by companies that manufacture or sell other types of products still has room for growth.

Demographic breakdown of all 801 survey respondents, based on annual sales (View a larger version.)
According to Melanie Nuce, GS1 US' VP of apparel and general merchandise, the relatively high percentages of adoption and RFID plans among respondents is a sign that retailers are responding to the growth of retail purchases in an omnichannel environment (with many purchases taking place online, she notes, so retailers need to be able to get products to consumers faster, through multiple channels).

"I don't think you would see more than half of retailers responding that they are implementing RFID without the omnichannel call for action getting louder and louder with each passing year," Nuce says. "This uptick in RFID usage is indicative of the retail industry's need to see what product they have and put it into the hands of consumers faster."

Each RFID-aware respondent was asked two questions. Manufacturers were asked what percentage of their merchandise has an RFID tag attached to it, and what their plans are for implementing the technology. Retailers, meanwhile, were asked what percentage of items they received has an RFID tag attached, as well as what their implementation plans are.

Among those manufacturers asked the above questions, 18.7 percent reported that they tag 61 to 80 percent of the goods they make, while 22 percent indicated they tag between 11 and 20 percent of their merchandise, and 17.9 percent reported no tagging at all. On average, approximately 40 percent of items made by the group are being tagged.

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