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GS1 Releases Guidelines for RFID-based Electronic Article Surveillance
An RFID-based EAS system is already being tested by German retailer Metro Group, using Checkpoint technology to manage inventory, and to deter and track theft.
"I think this will help drive item-level tagging in the retail world," says Natalie Taylor Debouvry, the manager of GS1's Standards Group in Brussels, Belgium. With one tag, according to the recommendations in the GS1 guides, retailers can accomplish what was previously managed with several tags—an RFID tag for inventory visibility, and a separate EAS plastic or paper tag for security—as well as separate RFID and EAS interrogators and software. In addition, with an RFID-based EAS solution, a retailer will have visibility into which item is taken if it passes through a doorway without being purchased.
Taylor Debouvry says GS1 first launched efforts to develop standards for an RFID-based EAS system in 2007, in Hong Kong, then later in Europe and North America, meeting with a group of RFID and EAS vendors, as well as retailers and associations. The resulting specifications, says Patrick Javick, GS1 US' director of industry development, included such details as the size of doorways where RFID interrogators would be installed to read the tags, the type of air interface and RF frequency that should be employed, and how to ensure that the use of RFID at the point of sale would not slow the sales process.
With as many as 100 associations and companies participating, the group developed a strategic overview that included the necessary requirements. The group began putting the guides together in March of this year.
The guides describe a system in which an EPC Gen 2 UHF tag can be attached to an item and linked to information in a company's back-end system for inventory tracking. An item's EPC number would be placed on a list in the database, indicating it was not sold. At the point of sale, the tag would be interrogated by an RFID reader, and the database list would then be updated, removing the EPC number from the list of unsold items. If the item had not been sold, and was carried through an interrogator at the exit, the software would determine the EPC number was on the list of unsold items and trigger an alert. At the same time, because the EPC number is linked to data regarding that item, the store would know exactly what had been removed, thereby allowing replenishment.
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