While JC Penney and Macy’s have been grabbing much of the attention in the retail RFID sector, evidence exists that action in the sector is booming on many fronts. While there have been limited announcements of new deployments, such as the NEO retail stores operated by adidas in Germany, more announcements are expected to follow. It’s clear that department stores and specialty shops like apparel will lead the item-level tagging charge.
Bill Hardgrave, the dean of the College of Business at Auburn University and the founder of the University of Arkansas RFID Research Center, says that his phone has been ringing off the hook with calls from retailers interested in deploying.
“The level of activity just continues to amaze me,” says Hardgrave. “During the first quarter I received so many calls from retailers, and Q2 activity has clearly gone beyond the first quarter.”
Hardgrave says that department stores in particular seem to be gaining traction as more brand owners and vendors that are in multiple stores begin widespread tagging.
“A lot of brand owners are starting to tag and some are hitting that critical mass and tagging everything,” says Hardgrave. “Those products are flowing into multiple retailers, which gives the retailer the impetus to start using those tags as they come into the store.”
While action at the department store level is strong, specialty retailers like sporting goods stores or specialty apparel boutiques are honing their item level tagging strategies, which can vary strongly from large department stores.
“While some department stores roll out store by store or by product category, the specialty store strategy will be to tag everything,” says Hardgrave. “They can do that much faster than a major department store can,” since a specialty retailer might carry between 15,000-35,000 items. “They will tag everything and roll out chain wide. On one hand it’s a simpler model, but it also requires much more due diligence on the front end because you are not just rolling out one or two categories, but hitting the entire store.”
The retail sector continues to see strong demand for RFID tags, especially for apparel tagging. A new report from IDTechEx says that apparel will consume one billion RFID labels in 2012, growing to 1.35 billion in 2013.
This blog was adapted from the lead story of this week’s issue of RFID 24-7. Click here to read the full article.