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RFID Will Benefit Apparel Suppliers

While consumer packaged goods companies struggled to find an ROI, firms that supply apparel items should have no problem justifying an investment in RFID.
By Mark Roberti
During peak selling periods, suppliers need not hire a lot of part-time staff members to count items, or employees can be redeployed to more important jobs. Shipping is another area in which RFID can pay off. When workers at a DC must pick, pack and ship items to a retail store, it often takes a lot of time to locate the correct goods. And because a size 32-34 pair of jeans looks identical to 34-34 jeans of the same style, for instance, it is easy for workers to pick the wrong products. RFID can reduce the time needed to find items, and to confirm the right ones are being picked, thereby resulting in reduced labor and fewer mis-shipments.

I don't know if Lemmi had a problem with theft—or, if it did, whether RFID had an impact. But several companies have told me that the technology can reduce theft just by virtue of the greater visibility it provides. When employees know that items are being tracked when they arrive at and leave a facility, they are a little less casual about tossing something into a bag and walking out with it. RFID also enables businesses to analyze data, which allows them to determine, for instance, that a particular employee always seems to be working when items end up missing.

Companies that have a big theft problem can also install security cameras and link these to their RFID system. That way, when tags are read, they are linked to searchable recordings. If an item goes missing, it is possible to search a digital recording and determine who the last person was to handle that product.

When you add up the savings from not having to courier items from Asia due to mis-shipments, labor savings during picking and shipping at a DC, and theft reduction, RFID will almost certainly deliver an ROI for apparel suppliers within a year.

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 the Editor's Note archive.


Monto Kumagai 2010-10-08 10:22:10 AM
The Internet of Experiences and RFID Clothing I am looking forward to item level RFID tagging of apparel. This will enable us to personalize consumer products in mobile environments. I have shown that RFID, cell phones, and social networks allow individuals a chance to shout back and announce their unique experiences and impressions of the world. We have crossed the threshold between the supplier and the consumer. Interconnected, global networks allow us to fire off unique, digital beacons. These personal messages reflect moments in time where we are linked to the physical world. Dialing in and exploring common paths, opinions, and destinations have allowed us to discover that we are not alone. We seek to share our experiences with the global community, hoping to find something new that we have never seen before. Look back at the past and then make plans for the future. Collectively, we call this The Internet of Experiences (http://tinyurl.com/3648j45). Don’t forget that the personalization of clothing and sharing of consumer experiences is a new form of advertising. If done properly, it will have an enormous, positive impact on the apparel industry.

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