GS1 Brasil Sees Adoption Growing

While visiting Brazil to officially launch our Portuguese-language Web site, I had a chance to sit down with Roberto Matsubayashi, GS1 Brasil's innovation technology and strategic alliances manager, and discuss the market for RFID systems based on the Electronic Product Code standard.
Published: October 17, 2011

In late September 2011, I traveled to São Paulo, Brazil, for the official introduction of RFID Journal Brasil, our Portuguese-language Web site, which we launched with the support of Hewlett-Packard Brasil and the RFID Center of Excellence. While in that country, I visited the offices of GS1 Brasil, where I sat down with Roberto Matsubayashi, the organization’s innovation technology and strategic alliances manager, to obtain an update regarding the adoption of radio frequency identification technologies based on GS1‘s Electronic Product Code (EPC) standard. Here are excerpts from that interview.

Roberti: What services does GS1 Brasil provide for GS1 members who are adopting EPC technologies in Brazil?

Matsubayashi: Generally speaking, we act as a project manager, but not for the internal implementation. We support the member’s relationship with their trading partners and service providers. We help them to provide business cases and best practices, and to procure tags, readers and software, thereby accelerating the learning curve. We bring all the suppliers together, but the final negotiation and selection is done by the member company.

Roberti: From my vantage point as the editor of RFID Journal, it seems that adoption is growing in Brazil. Is that the case?

Matsubayashi: Yes, it is definitely growing. What was initially a trial [of EPC technology] for the Brazilian army is now a regular requirement. Other divisions, including the Air Force and Navy, are following suit. We have seen retailers, such as Billabong, opening RFID-enabled stores. We think others will be following these stores, and EPC will catch on quickly in the fashion sector.

Roberti: Which industry or industries are ahead of the others?

Matsubayashi: Defense is the biggest adopter right now. The Department of Defense in Brazil has required that some items they purchase—such as clothing, uniforms, bulletproof vests, parachutes, helmets and other things soldiers carry—be equipped with RFID tags following GS1 global standards. They are now expanding into other items. The Air Force is starting to automate its inventory management with RFID. The apparel industry is also starting to adopt RFID. We have one RFID-enabled store opening this month. Other chains will open RFID-enabled stores very soon. Many retailers are budgeting to do something [with RFID] next year.

Roberti: How would you characterize the attitude most businesspeople in Brazil have toward RFID technology?

Matsubayashi: The hype phase is definitely over. People realize the technology is not plug-and-play yet, and many are skeptical that RFID can deliver benefits. They know we are a long way from being able to use RFID in the supermarket supply chain from the order to the point of sales. They need to do more with bar codes, to get to the point that they can shift to RFID and get value. We also need a new generation of enterprise software to be able to take advantage of RFID data. In the meantime, there are industries in which RFID use will grow fast, such as fashion or electronics, where the value of goods is higher, and there are additional business cases, like replacing EAS tags.

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, the Editor’s Note archive or RFID Connect.