There was strong enthusiasm for RFID among attendees at the NRF Big Show in New York last week. From Marks & Spencer deploying RFID for all apparel and home goods products at its 700 stores, to a host of smaller deals, the sentiment is strong that 2013 is the year for RFID and retail.
In conjunction with the NRF show, GS1 hosted a roundtable meeting with executives from the largest 11 retailers in the U.S. Those that have not already rolled out the technology indicated that RFID is on the agenda for this year or 2014. The executives who have not deployed admit that they are behind the adoption curve. Those close to the industry expect a major announcement from a top 10 retailer by the end of Q1.
Marks & Spencer wasn’t the only deployment news. Tagsys RFID announced that fashion retailer Faconnable is deploying item-level tagging at 70 of its branded retail stores and distribution centers on two continents, and that RFID will be part of all future store openings.
Truecount chief operating officer Jordan Lampert had an interesting story to tell. The CEO of a nine-store shoe chain on the East Coast stopped by the Truecount booth and put down a cash deposit and asked that Truecount send out a team to begin an immediate deployment. Truecount offers a software solution targeted primarily to mid-sized retailers.
So retailers big and small continue to see the merits of RFID technology, first for the improved inventory visibility it offers, which can lead to the omni-channel retailing strategies that so many brands look to adopt. Additionally, the technology provides broad labor savings and sales increases from having product on the store shelf when the customer needs it.
That all adds up to continued adoption, as evidenced by Tyco Retail Solutions’ prediction that advancing rollouts will double the number of customers using its solutions from the current 1,000 retail locations to more than 2,000 by this fall. As demand steadily increases, Tyco expects to ship more than 750 million of its Sensormatic brand RFID tags (with the ability to be re-circulated) by Q3, representing growth of more than 250 percent.
“There is a positive message among retailers that RFID is going to be a driving force for them in 2013 and beyond,” says Patrick Javick, vice president of industry engagement for GS1. “We believe that 2013 will be a big year based on the increase in adoption that we are hearing about. A number of companies have talked about the various pilots that they are engaged with, including technology providers and retailers. Most of it is under NDAs that we can’t discuss, but there are a lot of large companies that have concluded their testing.”
M&S deploys a billion tags
Marks & Spencer is extending its item level tagging program to include all apparel and household products in its 700 stores. The rollout will begin immediately in all departments and will be complete by the Spring of 2014. The announcement was made by Marks & Spencer and partner Avery Dennison at the NRF Big Show in New York.
UK-based Marks & Spencer operates more than 700 stores and receives more than 21 million shopper visits each week. Extending its RFID tagging program represents a major milestone for the continued adoption of RFID in the retail sector.
“Having accurate stock information is a driver for our whole business, especially when it comes to multi-channel,” says Kim Phillips, head of packaging at Marks & Spencer. “The RFID partnership with Avery Dennison is allowing us to replenish stock from the distribution center more accurately, making more garment sizes available to more customers and continuing to prove its value over and over again.”
Marks & Spencer is a pioneer when it comes to RFID and retail. The company began its initial pilots nine years ago. Avery Dennison has supplied almost one billion RFID tags to M&S with no data loss or duplication. The tags can be read when an RFID scanner is up to a meter away, making the inventory tracking process faster and more efficient.
In the future, M&S plans to expand the use of RFID scanning throughout the supply chain to increase accuracy and speed of distribution.
“As one of the UK’s biggest retailers, M&S is focused on providing exceptional customer experience and RFID enables that experience by ensuring inventory accuracy from the distribution center to the store floor, providing shoppers with consistent and accurate product availability in-store and online,” says Shawn Neville, president, retail branding and information solutions, Avery Dennison.
More on the Faconnable rollout
After piloting RFID for a year at its store in Hollywood, Calif., and at two distribution centers, French fashion retailer Faconnable is rolling out item-level tagging at 70 of its branded retail stores and distribution centers on two continents.
The retailer is utilizing Tagsys RFID’s FiTS (Fashion-item Tracking System) integrated RFID system. Tagsys unveiled its latest deployment at the NRF Big Show being held in New York this week. The retailer will also integrate RFID with third-party logistics suppliers, resulting in 100 percent coverage of the millions of items being sold by Façonnable and its retail partners.
Faconnable expects to achieve complete item-level visibility throughout its supply chain through an optimized system for reducing costs and accelerating replenishment cycles.
“We have a complex global supply chain that requires timely and accurate information on all of our inventory,” says Yonni Mrejen, vice president of retail and operations at Façonnable.
The Tagsys system goes beyond typical RFID project-level implementations and provides Faconnable a true systematic approach to inventory management at each step of the product life cycle.
The Tagsys system provides Faconnable with the type of visibility and real-time data needed to dynamically make critical decisions on distribution and replenishment, both within its operations as well as with third-party logistics suppliers and retail partners.
“The net result,” says Mrejen, “is time and cost savings that ultimately produces a better overall customer experience at the retail level.”