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Gerry Weber Sews In RFID's Benefits

The company plans to integrate EPC Gen 2 tags into the care labels of all garments it makes, and expects to quickly recoup its cost by using the tags to track inventory and deter theft.
By Rhea Wessel
In a second part of Gerry Weber's trials, which took place in early 2009, the company tested RFID in retail processes. Partners included SALT Solutions, which designed and carried out the testing, Intermec, which again provided the handheld interrogator, and Checkpoint Systems, which supplied reusable tags. During Gerry Weber's first business-case calculations for RFID, approximately two and a half years ago, the company could not calculate a return on investment (ROI) on one-use tags, which is why it decided to test reusable tags.

Gerry Weber tested the concept of reusable tags by having its clothing manufacturers in China apply several thousand of the tags to garments made in that country. However, the company reports, it found that reusable RFID tags were not suitable for the retail environment, because new product information must be associated with the tag's unique ID number every time the tag is reused.

Ralph Tröger, an IT project manager at Gerry Weber
"The idea of RFID is to substitute and accelerate processes," Tröger explains. "The irony is that when you use reusable tags, you have an additional process—to associate the product bar code with the RFID tag."

In the third part of the trials, carried out during the spring, summer and autumn of 2009, Gerry Weber tested RFID for EAS at two stores, including one in Duesseldorf. Partners included Deutsche Telekom, which served as the project integrator, RAKO Security Label, which provided textile RFID tags, and Stonegarden Technologies, which supplied point-of-sale RFID interrogators and software for deactivating tags.

RFID is at least as effective as conventional EAS for theft detection, Tröger says. However, he notes, the psychological barrier for thieves considering stealing an item may be lower with RFID, since tags are less noticeable.

The three tests and later calculations helped Gerry Weber draw some important conclusions for its business: The company sees the most immediate business-case advantage of RFID as being in the retail store, Tröger explains, and believes that single-use tags applied to all of its merchandise, rather than just part of it, will bring about an ROI.

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