Chinese Packaging Company Brings Low-Cost RFID to United States, Europe

Baoshen Group is opening offices in both regions, and is offering two new RFID products: a hybrid RFID-EAS tag and a printed NFC tag for authentication and consumer engagement that will be released early next year.
Published: November 23, 2018

BSN, an RFID company spun off from Chinese firm Baoshen Group, is opening offices in Europe and the United States, with plans to expand its portfolio of ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) and Near Field Communication (NFC) RFID inlays and solutions throughout North America, Europe, the Pacific Rim and Japan. The expanded sales into the United States and beyond are intended to address the growing demand for item-level, inventory-management-based UHF RFID labels and tags for the retail apparel and footwear markets. The firm is also offering NFC tags for authentication.

Baoshen Group is a packaging materials company with 1,600 employees that has the capacity to produce one billion RFID labels per year. Its headquarters is located in Guangzhou, China, where it develops RFID labels, software and chips. The firm has been growing, with factories in Ho Chi Minhg City and Haiphong City, Vietnam, and its spinoff BSN is now opening U.S. and European offices.

As part of this effort, BSN has brought RFID talent on board, including Philip Calderbank, an RFID consultant who was previously the global RFID VP at SML and worked before that at Avery Dennison and Impinj. “In China,” Calderbank says, “Baoshen has gotten steadily more involved in RFID, and also subcontracts for other label companies, such as Avery Dennison.”

The company is currently seeking sales office locations in the United States (most likely in New Jersey), as well as in Europe. It plans to sell its products directly to customers—primarily brands and retailers—rather than via channel partners. BSN already provides its RFID labels and trim products for such brands as Zara, Ugh, Nike and Adidas, as well as retailers that include Macy’s. Baoshen Group is also looking into establishing service bureaus to meet the need for RFID tags in North and Central America. “We’re moving very fast,” Calderbank states, adding that he has been working with the company for approximately three months.

This geographic growth will be accompanied by new products, Calderbank reports. By early 2019, BSN plans to introduce a new hybrid UHF RFID-based electronic article surveillance (EAS) tag to provide item visibility and loss prevention. The company will also offer printed electronic circuits in the form of Eprint flexible NFC RFID labels by early spring 2019, he says. These printed labels will leverage a printed IC, and are intended to lower the cost of NFC RFID deployments. The price of the Eprint tags, he notes, would be approximately half that of current NFC tags.

The printed tag could be incorporated directly into packaging, or into a label attached to packaging, for use on products such as pharmaceuticals, luxury apparel and accessories, or wine and liquors, for the purpose of authentication and anti-counterfeiting. For instance, Calderbank says, “Consumers could hold a smartphone next to the packaging and trigger a YouTube video,” in order to help them make buying decisions and learn more about a product they have purchased, as well as ensure its authenticity. The hybrid RFID and EAS tags would be less expensive than standard RFID or EAS tags, Calderbank claims, while enabling inventory accuracy and loss prevention.

As part of its growth efforts, BSN is joining GS1, the RAIN RFID Alliance and the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA). In addition, the company has brought on board several other executives who have a great deal of RFID experience. Joelle Farrell, BSN’s VP of sales for North America, was previously the key accounts VP at SML, while Marcos Jimenez is serving as BSM’s new director of sales for the European Union, and is based in Barcelona.

“We see an opportunity in the marketplace” for RFID products in North America and Europe, Calderbank states. “We know the market. We know what’s expected.” The company itself is well financed, he says, and is well poised to expand quickly.