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GS1 US Offers "EPC Item-Level Readiness Program" Aimed at Retailers, Suppliers

The program, consisting of webinars, discussion groups and support tools, is intended to help U.S. consumer goods suppliers and retailers pilot and deploy EPC-based UHF Gen 2 item-level RFID technology.
By Claire Swedberg
Jan 31, 2012Nonprofit standards organization GS1 US is offering a program slated to begin next month, and intended to guide retailers and suppliers through the process of adopting Electronic Product Code (EPC)-based radio frequency identification technology. The GS1 US EPC Item-Level Readiness Program will consist of webinars, community discussion groups and Web-based user tools. This program, the organization reports, is intended to help drive the adoption of item-level RFID EPC tags by suppliers and retailers, as the market for the tagging of apparel and other consumer products grows—prompted, in large part, by retailer adoption and subsequent requests to suppliers to apply tags to their products.

The Web-based educational programs and teleconference sessions are designed to help businesses develop their EPC RFID deployment plans, learn what their costs may be and follow a timeline for adoption. The program also provides guidance regarding usage of the EPC symbol.

Patrick Javick, GS1 US' VP of industry engagement for apparel and general merchandise
Over the past two years, GS1 US has been working with individual retailers, as well as some suppliers, to help them develop RFID pilots or deployment plans, according to Patrick Javick, the organization's VP of industry engagement for apparel and general merchandise. This, says Gena Morgan, GS1 US' program manager, is part of the key support that the organization has been providing as the retail industry has moved toward item-level EPC tagging. While GS1 US has provided education and user tools to members on an individual basis for several years, it will offer a program beginning in February that will target both suppliers and retailers—some with prior RFID experience, and others with almost none.

Although the program is aimed at both suppliers and retailers, Javick says, enrollment is expected to be seven- to ten-fold greater among suppliers, simply because retailers are fewer in number and many of them have already completed pilots and worked with GS1 to adopt RFID solutions. The greatest push now, he adds, is to help suppliers meet retailers' demands for RFID solutions, as well as to use the technology within their own operations.

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