Sometimes, Seeing Is Believing

This video, taken at our recent RFID in Fashion event, demonstrates how much faster you can take inventory in an apparel retail store with RFID than with bar codes.
Published: September 1, 2009

It seems to me that sometimes people need to see what new technologies can do in order to understand how they can be applied to their business. At our recent RFID in Fashion 2009 event, RFID Journal worked with Avery Dennison and Motorola to show attendees the difference between taking inventory with bar codes and doing it with radio frequency identification. We ran several scenarios—inventorying items on a rack, on shelves and in a box. The video demonstrates inventorying 40 shirts hung on a rack.

We had to edit the video to cut out more than a minute, because reading the bar codes took too long. You’ll notice that while RFID isn’t perfect—it missed one of the 40 items—bar coding is far less accurate. Despite the best efforts of our volunteer, he missed six items. Also, notice that our volunteer read 39 RFID tags in 13 seconds—the amount of time it took to scan two bar codes; she then spent another few seconds to see if there were any tags missed. It took more than 3 minutes, meanwhile, to scan all of the bar codes.

That means RFID was approximately 20 times faster than bar codes. In RFID Journal‘s Fashion Retail ROI Calculator, we used a conservative figure of 10 times faster. (To download the free calculator and the accompanying report, go to

The reason this is so important is that it explains why you can improve inventory accuracy so well with RFID. You can now afford to take inventory four or five times a month, versus twice annually, with no additional labor costs. I think most people know that if they could take inventory regularly without incurring additional labor costs, they could increase sales. Some just don’t believe it’s possible. This video shows it is. If you find the video helpful, please send it to others who might also find it interesting.

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 click here.