RFID-Dedicated Distributor Makes Its Entrance

By Beth Bacheldor

Canadian logistics services provider Liaison Can/U.S. Courier has created a new division that will distribute RFID hardware, software and services in North America.


Liaison Can/U.S. Courier Inc., a provider of transportation and logistics services, is launching a new division that it claims is the first North American value-added distributor fully devoted to RFID hardware, software and services.

The division, known as Can/U.S. Enviro-RFID, strives to be a value-added distributor that does more than just offer a basic distribution channel serving value-added resellers and systems integrators. Consequently, the company aims to be a single-source supplier of RFID hardware components, including interrogators and tags, RFID software, fully integrated RFID solutions, and RFID training and other services, as well as be a sales channel that resellers and integrators can use to market and distribute their own RFID wares.

Mark Shapiro

Liaison Can/U.S. Courier has experience with both high-tech distribution channels and radio frequency identification. The company already has a 15-year-old division known as Can/U.S. Enviro-Energy, that distributes industrial power supplies and batteries. In 2005, Liaison Can/U.S. Courier began employing active and passive RFID tags to help keep better tabs on the goods it transports, and it also started offering its customers a range of services based on its RFID investments (see Canadian Freight Courier Rolls Out RFID).

Other distributors of RFID products already exist, but none have a dedicated RFID distribution business, according to Mark Shapiro, executive director of business development for Liaison Can/U.S. Courier, headquartered in Montreal. Instead, the distributors have added RFID products to their portfolios of other offerings, such as bar-code readers, wireless network equipment, point-of-sale systems, PCs and other technologies. Those distributors, Shapiro says, might not have generated sufficient revenue from RFID, compared with their other lines. “RFID didn’t grow as fast as everyone might have expected, and that hurt the distributors’ ability to proactively focus on RFID,” he states. “We recognized there was a void, and there really wasn’t a strong company out there that could proactively drive RFID sales.”

Can/U.S. Enviro-RFID aims to be a value-added distributor, Shapiro says, in that it will offer RFID solutions from many different hardware, software, service and solution providers, “so resellers will be able to get more than just hardware or some tags from us. They will be able to get an entire solution from a single place.” In addition, he says, the firm will allow its customers—the value-added resellers and systems integrators—to utilize the distribution channel to sell their own solutions. “We are going to be 100 percent focused on RFID hardware, software, tags, training and on-site services,” he says. “And we’ll provide two values: We’ll get the resellers and integrators what they need, at good prices and with good service, and as they then develop their own RFID solutions, we’ll let them market those products and services back to the RFID community.”

According to Shapiro, Can/U.S. Enviro-RFID hopes to work with hundreds—and, eventually, thousands—of resellers. Several suppliers have already signed on with the company, including Adasa, Alien Technology, AWID, Printronix, MTI Wireless Edge and Convergence Systems.

Can/U.S. Enviro-RFID will not be simply an advertising or marketing company for RFID, Shapiro stresses. “We want to be successful in driving sales,” he says, noting that his company will be able to purchase and stock RFID labels and other products at much higher volumes than, for instance, a single reseller. “We’ll be able to lower the end cost to the reseller—and then, ultimately, that savings will be passed on to the end users.”

Can/U.S. Enviro-RFID operates warehouses in Canada and United States, at which it plans to stock RFID products. The company has already brought in inventory, Shapiro says.