Come in, there must be a product you like

DoD considers RFID to eliminate fraudulent electronics parts

The U.S. government is considering an RFID solution to safeguard the U.S. defense electronics supply chain from substandard and counterfeit electronics. RFID Global Solution, Inc., a leading provider of asset management and supply chain solutions, will demonstrate a potential supply chain authentication solution at the  (DARPA) Demo Day at the Pentagon next week.

A 2012 Senate Armed Services Committee report on counterfeit electronic parts in the DoD supply chain found counterfeit parts to be a widespread problem. Faulty or fake components present a critical risk in military systems, electronics systems and sensors, where a malfunction of a single part could endanger missions and lives.

“Our Visi-Trac application for DARPA SHIELD enables real-time authentication of components on a worldwide scale,” said Diana Hage, Chief Executive Officer of .  “We are excited to be on the ground floor of such a monumental and important initiative.”

DARPA awarded a $12.3 million contract to Northrop Grumman Corp. and its partners for the agency’s SHIELD (Supply Chain Hardware Integrity for Electronics Defense) program in 2015. SHIELD aims to stop counterfeit electronic parts from entering the supply chain by implementing an authentication solution consisting of a miniaturized chip called a dielet, under development by Northrop Grumman, and software to validate the authenticity of electronic parts, being developed by RFID Global Solution.

DARPA Demo Day offers U.S. military and Defense Department (DoD) personnel the opportunity to see demonstrations of DARPA’s latest research into breakthrough technologies for national security.

RFID Global Solution, under contract from Northrop Grumman, has led the development of an enterprise-class electronics parts authentication application. If successful, the technology would help provide a secure, scalable authentication solution suitable for global rollout to commercial and defense electronics manufacturers and their customers. The SHIELD program aims to eliminate counterfeit parts at a fraction of the cost of today’s manual processes, and will transition to commercial release in 2019.

With the SHIELD program, DARPA wants to develop dependable and inexpensive technology which will provide unprecedented levels of assurance against recycled components that are sold as new; substandard components sold as high-quality; parts marked with falsely elevated reliability or newer dates of manufacture; low-quality clones and copies that may include hidden functionality; components that are covertly repackaged for unauthorized applications, and unlicensed overproduction of authorized components, DARPA officials say.

SHIELD uses the latest advances in 14 nanometer integrated circuit technologies for producing the world’s smallest and least expensive anti-tamper/counterfeit detection technology.

Cornell researchers monitor blood pressure with RFID

The medical sector has always been a sweet spot for RFID. Some day, the use of RFID in medical could be far more significant than in retail. Although retailers have benefited greatly from higher inventory accuracy and consumer engagement enabled by RFID, medical use cases could save lives.

Researchers at Cornell University, for example, recently demonstrated a method for gathering blood pressure, heart rate and breath rate data using RFID tags similar to the anti-theft tags department stores place on clothing and electronics.

The RFID tags measure mechanical motion by emitting radio waves that bounce off the body and internal organs, and are then detected by an electronic reader that gathers the data from a location elsewhere in the room.

The system integrates “near-field coherent sensing,” which is better at directing electromagnetic signals into body tissue, allowing the tags to measure internal body movement such as a heart as it beats or blood as it pulses under the skin. The tags are powered by electromagnetic energy supplied by a central reader, and because each tag has a unique identification code it transmits with its signal, up to 200 people can be monitored simultaneously using just one central reader.

“If this is an emergency room, everybody that comes in can wear these tags or can simply put tags in their front pockets, and everybody’s vital signs can be monitored at the same time,” says  Edwin Kan, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Cornell. “I’ll know exactly which person each of the vital signs belongs to.”

The idea originated after Kan and his graduate student, Xiaonan Hui, visited the Center for Sleep Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian, where measuring vital signs can interrupt sleep patterns.

“We were thinking about the kind of technology we were already using in our lab and thought we could probably get a signal from those vital signs,” said Hui. “But after we figured out the theory and did the experiments, the signal quality was better than our prediction.”

The signal is as accurate as an electrocardiogram or a blood-pressure cuff, according to Kan, who said he believes the technology could also be used to measure eye movement and many other internal mechanical motions produced by the body.

Kan and Hui plan to do more extensive testing with Dr. Ana Krieger, medical director of the Center for Sleep Medicine and associate professor of clinical medicine, of medicine in clinical neurology and of clinical genetic medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine. They’re also working with professor Jintu Fan and associate professor Huiju Park from Cornell’s Department of Fiber Science and Apparel Design, who have demonstrated a way to embroider the tags directly onto clothing using fibers coated with nanoparticles.

Hui envisions a future in which clothing can monitor health in real time, with little or no effort required by the user.

“For every garment in our daily use, there could be a tag on them, and your cellphone will read your vital signs and will tell you some kind of information about your condition that day,” said Hui.


Five reasons IT should be involved in retail RFID rollouts

IT departments are increasingly becoming involved in retail RFID deployments. Along with store operations, IT is responsible for systems, data and process infrastructure across the retail chain.

For starters, IT can play a major role in performing frequent, accurate updates of product master data. Let’s face it, if you want to reap benefits from an RFID implementation, it’s paramount to identify the information required and then maintain accurate and up-to-date data.

After all, what good is tagging merchandise if you can’t keep up with new products as they are launched? Many apparel retailers have 10-14 new collection “seasons” per year. For some fast fashion retailers, that number could be as high as 50.

So specify requirements ahead of time, and garner a clear understanding of all the information that needs to be put into the system. Pay particular attention to mapping out data fields correctly. And while updating inventory numbers daily may not be feasible, obtaining accurate information at least weekly if not more frequently will contribute to your project’s success.


Moods of Norway adopts source tagging for all inventory

Fashion retailer , which has stores in Norway, the United States and Sweden, is taking the next step in its RFID program by applying RFID tags to the items it sells at the point of manufacture.

Moods of Norway in its stores in Norway and Sweden. Beyond in-store use, the retailer uses RFID for omni-channel online orders. More than 90 percent of its spring/summer collection for 2015 was tagged with RFID, and about .

Moods of Norway retail director Hans Petter Hübert says that the retailer will source tag about 500,000 items next year.

Moods of Norway retail director Hans Petter Hübert says that the retailer will source tag about 500,000 items next year, a small number compared to major chains, but a significant rollout in Nordic terms.

Source tagging will speed up the tagging process and allow Moods of Norway to continue to track apparel from source to store, ensuring merchandise availability so that shoppers can always find what they need. Source tagging shifts the security tag application process from a manual labor-intensive process at the store to a centralized process at the point of manufacture, allowing store associates to focus on servicing their shoppers rather than applying tags.

Moods of Norway is using  for all SKUs. It is one of the first generation of new global tagging solutions approved in multiple apparel and hard line categories for the U.S. and Europe. Moods of Norway uses the same tag globally across many categories, streamlining its source tagging operations.

“A high-quality, high-speed source tagging process is important to us since we believe RFID is a nearly perfect system to keep control of the stock for in store and online orders,” says Hübert. “Checkpoint’s source tagging program is thus crucial for us, since it eliminates delays and ensures quality. With Checkpoint, our stores see RFID as a crucial tool, rather than extra work.”

The fashion retailer is also using Checkpoint’s  online ordering service to tag its entire fashion collection at source for more than 70 manufacturers based in China, Turkey, Holland, India and other countries.

Check-Net facilitates the complete end-to-end process, from order entry to production. With its enhanced graphic interface, users can navigate through the web page to select the required items, enter necessary variable information, and complete the shopping cart with peace of mind.

Many of Check-Net production facilities have a unique system that is eight times faster than industry-standard thermal transfer printers and offers higher accuracy (99.9 percent) and quality. This makes Checkpoint’s source tagging program ideal for apparel retailers with global operations that require a large number of labels for their stores around the world. Moreover, Check-Net enables Moods of Norway to check order status in real time to see when labels have been printed, picked up by the courier and shipped to vendors.

“We have a constant focus on processes, quality and innovation to ensure the speed of fashion, so that the right merchandise is there for shoppers when they want it,” says James Wrigley, president and chief operating officer for Apparel Labeling Solutions, Checkpoint. “We are excited to partner with Moods of Norway so it can deliver shelf-ready merchandise for in-store and online purchases as quickly and accurately as possible.”

RFID Wristband
Ralph Lauren pilots RFID-enabled mirror at NYC store

Ralph Lauren is proving to be an innovator when it comes to adopting Internet of Things technologies in its products and at retail outlets. This summer the fashion brand that uses sensors to capture heart rate and other vital data.

This week Ralph Lauren revealed that it is partnering with startup  to launch RFID-enabled fitting rooms at its New York City flagship store on Fifth Avenue. Ralph Lauren is piloting a touch-screen mirror from Oak Labs that syncs with the store’s existing inventory and point of sale systems, offering an engaging consumer experience.

Ralph Lauren is piloting RFID-enabled mirrors at its flagship store in New York City.

Items brought into the fitting room are detected by reading their RFID tags, prompting an item quantity number to pop up on the touch-screen mirror. Shoppers can view unique item details, request alternate colors or sizes, view stylist recommendations or request to help from an associate for a more engaging person-to-person experience.

Lighting themes customized to fit Ralph Lauren’s brand aesthetic — “Fifth Avenue Daylight,” “East Hampton Sunset,” and “Evening at the Polo Bar” — offer an easy first touch point for the consumer.

“We are on the cusp of a tectonic change in retail,” says Healey Cypher, CEO and founder of Oak Labs, which just raised $4.1 million in venture funding. “We will see more change in the next five years than the last 20,” “Not only are we helping our partners exceed the rapidly accelerating expectations of their shoppers, but we’re taking an entirely different approach to technology in the physical world.

All requests made by the customer in the fitting room are immediately delivered to a retail associate via iPad. Sales associates can respond to a shopper’s request with a note that appears on the fitting room mirror (e.g. “I’ll be right there”) alongside their name and photo. Through streamlined communication, sales associates can ease the transition from the fitting room to checkout with mobile point of sale systems all while re-humanizing the experience.

The Oak Fitting Room is the company’s first step towards developing a larger ecosystem of hardware & software for connected retail spaces.

In addition to creating a more magical customer experience, the Oak Fitting Room will empower retailers with a host of new, unparalleled data that has never been collected throughout the history of retail. With the help of the insight collected from Oak’s proprietary analytics dashboard, retailers will be able to measure fitting room “sessions” – including volume, duration, and conversion, and track SKU velocity in and out of fitting rooms, as well as conversion rates of specific SKUs which can be fed back to the merchandising teams.

In addition, retailers can reduce the inherent inefficiencies around today’s fitting room experiences: no waiting for associates, no asking for additional items and then waiting to see if it’s in stock, and no need to get dressed to go out and ask for help. Retailers can also better understand the nature of associate-shopper interactions and response times.

from on .

RFID Wristband
SAG unveils world's smallest HF aluminum antenna

SAG has unveiled the world’s smallest RFID HF aluminum antenna, measuring 0.4 x 0.4 inches, or 10.5 x 10.5 millimeters. Based in Taichung, Taiwan, SAG has been manufacturing a full product portfolio of RFID transponders for more than a decade. The new micro-sized antenna is already being used in the healthcare industry and is enabling RFID small-tagging intelligence without size constraints. SAG anticipates beginning mass production in large volumes early next year.

“We have been working with our healthcare client to develop a small tag with robust performance from a cost-effective perspective, yet offering higher quality standards,” says Terry Chiang, SAG’s GM. “SAG has a history of breakthroughs in RFID process technology to manage the quality of antenna line width to be made perfectly and consistently. The result is tremendous and we are ready to have our antenna to be put under the microscope of the marketplace.”

SAG's new tag (left) is billed as the world's smallest HF aluminum antenna.

SAG’s smallest HF aluminum antenna is currently being used in a pilot project for product authentication in healthcare. SAG has also received inquiries from several other industries and use cases, including brand protection, smart advertising, jewelry and consumer gaming. It is ideal for applications requiring tiny tags with outstanding performance.

“The industry standard of aluminum antenna line width is 200 um; however, SAG is pushing the envelope to produce one with the smallest line width of 100 um.,” says Chiang. “Furthermore, the double-sided design along with high process stability allow the possibility for smaller antenna and enable for conversion into small inlays and labels without compromising performance or product design.

“This tag provides a new option for small tagging intelligence, and we believe this breakthrough will help many clients to overcome many challenging applications requiring smaller inlays, especially the increasing interest in the “Internet of Things” concept in which small objects can be tagged, tracked and data can be collected further.”

SAG intends to expand its HF tag product portfolio to drive further innovation and produce tags that are smaller in size but higher in quality. The product is already available in converted formats. It can be delivered in dry inlay, wet inlay or label and can also be sequentially printed and encoded to customer specifications.

Clothing retailer JBC deploys RFID across all 144 stores

Clothing retailer JBC has rolled out RFID across all 144 stores in Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany. The move to tag 17 million items — including 1.5 million hanging garments and 15.5 million flat-packed items — is aimed at minimizing out-of-stocks and enhancing shopper experiences both online and in stores.

Belgium’s largest clothing retailer is now able to track items from the moment of production at its 100 suppliers around the world, up to the time they are sold. The RFID solution from Checkpoint Systems also allows all 144 stores to function as distribution centers to process online purchases.

Clothing retailer JBC has rolled out RFID across all of its stores in Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany.

“We can now accurately track and have visibility into the quantity and location of over 17 million stock items, which enables us to confidently expand our omni-channel initiatives in the future,” says Fred Tielens, logistics manager at . “We partnered with Checkpoint to prove the concept and measure the impact RFID technology would have through our supply chain.”

JBC leveraged to enable its sales staff and logistics service providers to track stock movements, optimize store inventory and identify merchandise items that are being returned or recalled to its DC. The inventory visibility enables its online shoppers to see accurate inventory quantity of its merchandise, which is particularly important for fast-fashion retailers.

Six Checkpoint RFID Tunnels at JBC’s DC in Houthalen-Helchteren automatically verify the physical contents of inbound shipments from suppliers and outbound shipments to JBC stores. The tunnels, in conjunction with , automatically match the exact contents against shipping manifests as they enter and leave the DC for its stores.

Per Levin, president of Merchandise Availability Solutions at Checkpoint, says that the deployment is not only the first and the biggest deployment in Belgium, but may also be the first globally in a franchisee organization.

“In addition to the inventory visibility benefits, RFID might allow us in the future  to measure the impact of promotions and make customized suggestions to our shoppers,” says Tielens. “We will be able to guide our shoppers through the purchase process from start to finish, whether they are shopping online or in one of our stores.”

RFID Wristband
Deutsche Post offers RFID tracking for international packages

Customers willing to pay extra to track their shipments in Europe can now purchase RFID tags directly from shipper Deutsche Post. The parcel giant is offering RFID to help online retailers and customers track deliveries across borders.

The RFID tags come in sets of 20 or 50 and cost about $1 per tag. Customers with larger shipment volumes can purchase recordable labels with integrated RFID tags. Both the sender and receiver can view the shipping status on Deutsche Post’s track and trace portal.

Deutsche Post cites demand from small shippers as cross-border online trade is growing even faster than domestic. Deutsche Post says that RFID makes tracking packages across borders transparent. The RFID tags can be attached to the package or be embedded inside the packaging.

Initial scanning of packages occurs in Germany’s international mail center — the Umschlagort — from where all letters leave Germany, and occurs again at the international mail center of the target country. Depending on the destination of the letter, it may be scanned again at customs, such as for deliveries to Switzerland or the U.S.

The service is already available in 16 countries, including EU member states Belgium, Denmark, France, Greece, Great Britain, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Portugal, Sweden, Spain and Hungary as well as Switzerland and the U.S. Other countries will follow shortly.

RFID Wristband
RFID drives omni-channel at Lululemon

As 2015 draws to a close, retailers are embracing RFID for much more than improved inventory accuracy. Retailers like Lululemon and Macy’s are using RFID as the foundation for omni-channel, which allows customers to order from a mobile device and pick up at the store, or arrange for fast delivery.

Specialty retailer Lululemon is the latest to acknowledge that RFID is a key component to a successful omni-channel program. The company has deployed RFID in all of its North America locations.

“This technology is a powerful new tool in creating seamless guest experiences across all channels and has greatly enhanced our ability to access inventory quickly across all channels and locations,” said CEO during the company’s earnings conference call this month.

Miguel Almeida, executive vice president of digital at Lululemon, says that RFID will help to drive buy-online, pick-up-in-store, a critical initiative to improve the guest experience across channels.

“That’s something that our guests have been telling us that they really want to see from us,” he said. “The RFID that we have in North America will enable us now to accelerate the testing, learning of those experiences. I’m mostly excited about how RFID technology and beacon technology will help us learn about guest behavior as they are buying and browsing products in our stores.

“We will learn significant things about the best way to implement these. The testing and learning on top of the RFID will help us do the right expansion in North America.”

Earlier this year would carry RFID tags by the end of this year. Source tagging began earlier this year for all products.

RFID Lab to study benefits of overhead readers for retail

As retailers debate the merits of handheld readers versus overhead always-on systems, the RFID Lab at the University of Auburn plans to conduct new research on the topic next year. Specifically, the lab will look at how continuous monitoring provided by overhead systems impacts store execution.

“It has been a big topic of conversation over the last year so we’re going to look into it further,” says Justin Patton, director of the RFID Lab. Patton reports increased interest in overhead systems from large retailers and smaller vertical boutique mall retailers. But major questions remain.

Retailers are considering handheld and overhead reader solutions.

“One thing we’re looking into is if you are trying to light up a giant warehouse store for one or two product categories, is that a valid business case,” says Patton. “Or does it make more sense for a mall store where you have better control of the product mix? But smaller stores typically don’t have the execution problems larger stores do, so we are trying to drill down into what the magic balance is.”


The RFID Lab is also considering updating some older research on loss prevention and EAS. Patton expects that the overhead reader research will focus on the large amounts of data collected and how to use it. Typically, most stores rely on cycle counts taken with a handheld reader.

“We’re focused on this mentality of cycle counts, which captures a very specific moment in time,” says Patton. “But when we light up an overhead system, it’s not like here is what we had at 10 am on Thursday…it’s more of the inventory in the store right now and it’s based on our data for the last few days. So how do you use that? Most inventory systems are more focused on a snap shot in time rather than data over time. So there are a lot of questions.”

While overhead systems are able to map out and show the exact location of all tagged products within the store, it is still to be determined how a large chain with 200 or more stores would use that data. Patton says that the use of always-on overhead reader systems represents an evolution when it comes to retail store data systems. The volume of data collected from a zonal system is significantly higher than fixed readers or handhelds.

“Most retailers don’t have anything in their current systems that can deal with XY coordinates in the store,” says Patton. “Most of them barely have back room versus front room inventory, so they are just not prepared for that high level of data (from overhead systems). We need to figure a path to get from where we are today, to using the more finite data that overhead systems provide.”

2016 should see strong growth for RFID in retail

RFID technology made big strides in 2015. The apparel sector continued to lead the charge on tagging, with 3.75 billion clothing items carrying RFID tags. Cosmetics, electronics, alcohol and other consumer goods also began to see heavier tag usage.

As we start a new year, 2016 holds even more promise. According to research firm IDTechEx, the apparel sector will consume 4.6 billion tags this year, an increase of 875 million tags. The 4.6 billion tags represents only about 10 percent of the entire apparel market, leaving strong room for growth.

“There are massive rollouts coming in 2016,” says Bill Hardgrave, worldwide RFID expert and Dean of the Harbert College of Business at Auburn University. “We are still seeing accelerated adoption with more and more retailers and now brand owners getting involved.”

Several major events generated significant momentum for RFID in 2015:

* In May, Target unveiled that it is deploying RFID across all 1,795 stores, in what should be retail’s largest deployment to date.

* Amazon confirmed that it is conducting pilots to use the technology throughout its worldwide supply chain.

*Macy’s credited the inventory accuracy enabled from RFID for increasing sales and allowing it to roll out same-day delivery.

*Sporting goods retailer Decathlon rolled out RFID to nearly 1,000 stores worldwide.

* RFID solutions provider Impinj sold its 10 billionth chip.

Raghu Das, CEO of IDTechEx, says that apparel is still king in RFID tagging and will continue to be.

“There is a lot of room for growth,” he says. “There is a long way to go with 40 billion taggable apparel items, although not everyone around the world will use RFID. The question is what is next. Everything else is growing, but on a slower basis.”

Cumulatively, 9.2 billion RFID tags have been sold in the retail market for use in item level tagging and CPG case and pallet tagging. Apparel tagging, which represents about 80 percent of market volume for passive RFID tags in 2015, will continue to see explosive growth. However, Das says that expansion into sectors such as asset management and logistics will shrink apparel’s share of the market to about 60 percent by 2018.

More than 4.5 billion clothing items will carry RFID tags in 2016.

Hardgrave says that retailers are chasing two new trends when it comes to RFID. For starters, they are now accustomed to thinking beyond initial use cases like inventory accuracy and out-of-stocks, and putting more attention on secondary use cases like omni-channel and enhancing the customer experience.

“The appeal of those secondary use cases is actually starting to pull in some retailers who have been on the sidelines,” says Hardgrave. “Moving forward, retailers are going to start getting very creative and finding ways to differentiate themselves from competitors.”

One example: Ralph Lauren’s trial of a RFID-enabled fitting rooms at its New York City flagship store on Fifth Avenue. Ralph Lauren is piloting a touch-screen mirror from Oak Labs that syncs with the store’s existing inventory and point of sale systems, offering an engaging consumer experience. This is expected to be just the beginning of new customer engagement techniques, which could also include dynamic pricing.

Another major trend occurring in the retail sector is a willingness to look at broader portfolio of technology when it comes to deploying throughout a chain. Instead of relying solely on handheld readers for cycle counts, retailers are exploring door portals, point-of-sale solutions and overhead systems that illuminate an entire store.

“A couple of years ago this approach was unthinkable; everyone was laser focused on the same approach for each store,” says Hardgrave. “But this is something we’ve started to see in the last six months, and it sets up well for seeing some different deployments in 2016. It’s really interesting that we’ve moved down this path, and it generally shows the maturation of retailers with the technology.”

RFID Wristband
Aeon Retail trials innovative RFID robot in Japan

The next wave of RFID innovation is on display at Aeon Retail’s flagship store in Japan, where the retailer is piloting a first-of its-kind, robot-enabled inventory counting solution from Checkpoint Systems.

The robot will automate the inventory cycle counting process to eliminate human-error, reduce operational costs and shift what used to be an employee task to value-added activities where associates can better serve the shopper.

The retailer is also discontinuing its existing acousto-magnetic (AM) electronic article surveillance (EAS) systems for Checkpoint’s RFID-upgradeable RF EAS systems to improve inventory management and the overall shopping experience.

Aeon and Checkpoint have already started source tagging for apparel and consumer packaged goods merchandise. Source tagging will ensure that merchandise arrives at stores already tagged and shelf-ready. Aeon Retail hopes to improve operational efficiencies with accurate inventory visibility and automate tasks that allow staff to focus their time on customer-facing activities.

The retailer will utilize Checkpoint’s Enterprise software, fully integrated into its point-of-sale and point of exit systems and Checkpoint’s new . This technology will enable Aeon to automatically match its inventory with merchandise sales and identify to the unit all items that leave the store. The accuracy of the information will help reduce excess inventory, reduce out-of-stocks and improve operational efficiencies.


Gerry Weber will deploy Tyco TrueVUE software at 800 stores

German retailer Gerry Weber, a pioneer of RFID innovation at the retail level, is enhancing its RFID deployment by implementing Tyco’s TrueVUE inventory visibility application. The Tyco solution will replace an existing RFID legacy solution at 800 stores, and enable Gerry Weber to leverage RFID more efficiently for a number of use cases.

Gerry Weber is deploying new RFID software at its 800 stores, like this location in Toronto.

The new solution has been deployed in 10 stores. A full rollout is expected to be complete by the end of June. Gerry Weber, which began using RFID in 2009, uses more than 30 million RFID tags annually for tagging apparel and other items to improve logistics, retail processes and loss prevention.

Gerry Weber is a leader in RFID innovation, , long before source tagging became common practice. The retailer was also one of the first to integrate RFID with its EAS system to curtail theft.

In its latest move, Gerry Weber will turn to  to enhance inventory accuracy and in-store stock availability, and for use with receiving, cycle counting, product locating, point-of-sale (POS), loss prevention, sales floor replenishment and merchandise transfer. The new RFID-enabled visibility into exact quantity and location of items by style, size, and color, will help ensure on-floor availability and timely, accurate sales floor replenishment to satisfy shopper needs. Gaining accurate real-time item-level insight across all stores also helps lay the foundation for a omni-channel retail strategies.

RFID Wristband
RFID innovation drives mobile retail units for Harley Davidson

In an ever competitive environment, retailers like Harley Davidson and Toms Shoes are turning to kiosks and mobile pop-up stores driven by RFID to test new markets and take advantage of temporary market opportunities like special events.

The pod-like stores, typically 3,000-square-feet in size, are fully enabled with RAIN RFID technology, creating the world’s first smart, portable, interactive retail environments. All products and fixtures use embedded RAIN RFID to create a dynamic shopping experience, such as RFID-enabled fitting rooms.

ShopWithMe has partnered with Impinj and Inmotion to RFID-enable the interactive retail solutions that connect items in a store using RFID and transform the way shoppers interact with store merchandise. The stores utilize Impinj fixed and overhead readers.

RFID allows retailers of any size to leverage the benefits of inventory intelligence, interactive product experiences and smart fitting rooms to streamline business, enhance the shopper experience and deliver quantifiable results.

“ShopWithMe is driven by the idea that online and offline shopping experiences complement and reflect the best of both channels,” says Jonathan Jenkins, founder and CEO of ShopWithMe.

“Inmotion helped make our vision a reality. The Impinj platform makes it possible to continue to further the development of new retail innovations that provide customers with a satisfying experience while also providing brands new technology with measurable impact.”

In-store innovations developed by Inmotion for ShopWithMe utilizing the Impinj platform include:

* Retail Pixel Wall – Displays brand engagement and product information when shoppers interact with products. All items in the store have a RAIN RFID tag so that as a shopper approaches the Pixel Wall with an item, information about that item is displayed on the digital wall in front of them, helping them find available sizes, styles and colors.

*Reactable Table – Shoppers can learn about a product by simply selecting it from a vertical or horizontal digital display table.  Selecting merchandise from the table triggers interactive product information on the display.

*Smart Fitting Room – When a shopper brings clothing items to the fitting room, interactive product information is displayed directly on the mirror for the customer to explore. The mirror also has suggestive selling components, conversion incentives and options for the shopper to request additional items through mobile alerts to the salesperson.

*Assisted Checkout – No more waiting in line at checkout. RAIN technology detects and groups items in an electronic shopping cart. Shoppers can swipe a credit card or use the ShopWithMe mobile app to complete their transaction.

*Wayfinding – For shoppers looking for a specific product, Impinj’s platform detects the location of store inventory, directing shoppers and staff to exact product locations.

RFID innovation on display at NRF Big Show

Out of stocks and inventory inefficiency still plague the retail industry. Some of the RFID solutions presented at NRF’s Big Show in New York, however, make it possible to envision a day when products are rarely out of stock.

Be it new and smaller tags, advancements in handheld and overhead “always-on” readers, or new solutions to capture and manage data generated from RFID tags, there was a strong focus on RFID innovation at this week’s NRF event.

Tech giants like , Microsoft and SAP all had RFID prominently displayed in their booths, something reserved only for RFID-centric vendors at previous shows. , ,  and Smartrac all displayed RFID innovation during the show.

RFID is clearly making new inroads into retail. Although apparel still rules retail, new tags from Smartrac and Checkpoint promise to accelerate tagging categories like cosmetics and jewelry. And new sewn-in tags promise to further accelerate source tagging in apparel.

Even grocery stores are getting in the game. Originally considered an unlikely match for RFID because of slim store margins, Checkpoint has introduced an that is being piloted by food retailers in North America and Europe. RFID could eliminate billions worth of losses globally. U.S. retailers alone lose $8.8 billion each year due to meat spoilage.

During a recent pilot, a national retailer reduced fresh meat replenishment time, as well as the time staff spent replenishing expired meat. The retailer also reduced meat waste and increased sales. Tagging fresh meat is expected to increase markdown compliance and improve the customer experience by enhancing food freshness and on-shelf availability.

Checkpoint also unveiled its label for health/beauty/cosmetics categories such as hair care, over-the-counter medication and mid-size cosmetics. Because of small sizes, SKU complexity and densely packed merchandising displays, these categories have specific inventory management challenges. The Micro and its previously released companion labels – the Whisper and Slim – cover the full gamut of products that fall within this merchandise category, allowing retailers to tag more merchandise than ever before to maximize their inventory visibility.

The Micro features an inlay size of 25mm x 10mm and is integrated with the Impinj® Monza® RAIN RFID R6 chip for optimal performance with Checkpoint’s RAIN RFID solutions. Micro tags can be applied over the packaging of numerous products or directly on the products themselves.

“Our ongoing partnership is exciting as Checkpoint continues to launch new solutions, including the Micro,” said Craig Cotton, vice president of marketing and product management at Impinj.

Part two of this blog will look at more of the innovation on display at NRF.

RFID Wristband
RFID drives sales and consumer engagement at Rebecca Minkoff
Upscale women’s fashion retailer plans to roll out RFID to a fourth North American store in Chicago by March, as the upscale fashion brand continues to see strong gains from RFID at its stores in New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles. At Rebecca Minkoff, RFID is all about extending the customer experience. When a customer walks into a store, a large interactive runway video wall display allows them to choose items they would like to try on. Items are in the fitting room when they arrive, and interactive mirrors allow them to have additional items brought in. Interactive Connected Mirrors are elevating apparel sales at Rebecca Minkoff. Co-founder and CEO Uri Minkoff says that 30 percent of people ask for additional items to try on. The RFID solution has been so successful that the percentage of apparel sales is three times higher than initially anticipated. “We are a lifestyle brand but known for our accessories, which dominates our business,” says Minkoff. “Apparel has always been a smaller portion but it’s becoming a very integral part of the share of the business because of what we have RFID-enabled. Apparel has become so dominant in the stores because the consumer is able to see how to pare different items. We’ve taken the e-commerce experience and brought it into the store.” When a customer enters a store, they are able to order a drink on the interactive video wall, and then click on different styles of clothing that they are interested in. “RFID is very important here,” says Minkoff, because it lets them know which items are in stock. “The next thing that happens is where all the magic occurs. Because everything has an RFID tag, as the consumer crosses the threshold into the fitting room, an RFID antenna registers and reads what colors and sizes she has, and those items are displayed on the magic mirrors in the fitting room. All of a sudden the fitting room has come to life for the shopper.” Rebecca Minkoff started piloting ebay’s Connected Mirror technology last year. ,RFID Wristband
RFID reads 1,000 casino chips in 26 seconds

The use of RFID tags in the casino industry is a relatively mature use case. It was back in 2010 that the Bellagio resort in Las Vegas foiled the theft of $1.5 million worth of poker chips because they carried RDIF tags, allowing the casino to deactivate the heisted chips.

Yet, the technology continues to improve, allowing new use cases for casinos. This video demonstrates how RFID can read 1,000 stacked RFID-enabled poker chips in 3.5 seconds. FEIG’s long range reader captures the poker chip reads, which are embedded with NXP ICODE chips.

In the past, UHF RFID technology had difficulty reading stacked casino chips because of RF interference. NXP and FEIG’s latest solution opens new possibilities for automatic inventory management, smart shelves and instant verification of casino chips.



Sinopec Shengli Oilfield uses RFID tags to track drill pipes

Chinese petroleum and chemical company Sinopec Shengli Oilfield has turned to RFID technology in field tests to track the downhole pipes on its onshore oil site. The use case is believed to be the first UHF RFID application of its kind in the oil and gas industry.

By embedding RFID tags on drill pipes, the Shengli Oilfield is able to track 1,380 drill pipes at seven well sites using handheld readers and software supplied by VictorySoft. The pilot operation ran for three months, with every well opening a depth of approximately 2,500 meters. For the next stage, a well-centered antenna will be put in place to read the tag as the pipe moves through it while being tripped. With the success of the pilot, the Shengli Oilfield expects to substantially expand the deployment of Xerafy’s Xplorer tags to additional drill strings and sites this year.

A UHF RFID tag embedded in a drill pipe.

 is a patent-pending, UHF RFID tag constructed with high-strength steel and polymer, and is specially designed to be embedded in a hole milled into the drill joint to track each individual pipe. RFID is key to improving the previously impossible task of tracking and capturing data on the individual pipes. Without RFID, Shengli Oilfield did not have an efficient way to manage drilling pipes, which were counted manually before and after the drilling process, resulting in inaccurate inventory management, inefficient asset utilization and potential safety risks.

The ability to track individual joints of drill pipe has opened up new possibilities for improved documentation and process efficiency resulting in cost savings and risk reduction. Regulatory requirements, weather, and operating conditions make China’s oilfields one of the most challenging asset management environments on earth. During tripping operations, the drill pipes are exposed to high temperature, extreme pressure and vibrations, and chemical corrosion. Xerafy Xplorer RFID tags are constructed to be able to withstand the downhole environment reliably where pressures can reach 30,000 psi.

The Xplorer tag records data including the ID number, steel number, size and weight, production information, last usage information, asset maintenance records and other vital information. The stored information is transmitted to VictorySoft’s tracking system. By using a handheld RFID reader, the staff has been able to access key information both before and after scanning all drill pipes and will be able to get real time visibility when the assets need cleaning and maintenance, including when the drills need to be scrapped.

This greatly reduces the risk of leakage and rupture accidents which can cause the expedition to fail. With timely collection of raw data, management can use the data on-site to make quick and accurate decisions.

“The benefits of an RFID tag solution are indisputable for drilling, sub-sea and surface operations,” says Dennis Khoo, CEO of Xerafy. “The more information service and drilling companies can get about the pipe equipment before it goes into the hole, the less likely a costly delay or a catastrophic situation could happen.”

RFID will track player stats during Super Bowl 50

Zebra Technologies will conclude its second year as the “Official On-Field Player Tracking Provider” of the NFL on Sunday when the Denver Broncos meet the Carolina Panthers in .

After piloting the technology last year, the was expanded to all 31 NFL stadiums this year. This year more than 2,500 players wore two RFID tags embedded into each shoulder pad. The tags, the size of a nickel, were capable of being read 15 times a second. The NFL deployed more than 7,500 tags for players, officials, yard markers and pylons.

The RFID tags track speed, distance, acceleration, player orientation and change of directions on the field. The sensors on players track vital stats indoors and outdoors to within six inches. This solution enables the NFL to gain real-time insight into the action happening on the field of play and feeds its Next Gen Stats program. Zebra’s solution was also deployed for the college football playoffs this year. In the future, the data generated from the tags will be used by coaching staffs to determine which players are performing best, and which players may need to be rested.

Super Bowl 50 marks the second consecutive Super Bowl during which the Zebra Sports Solution will be used to help improve the way fans, teams and networks watch, coach, play and analyze the game.

During the 2015 NFL season, players were tracked in more than 330 NFL games, an increased from the 130 games tracked last year. This year, more than 4.5 billion player coordinates were measured and transmitted. (.)

The Zebra Sports Solution leverages the same patented RFID tracking and location solutions technology that Zebra implements for multinational corporations in healthcare, retail, manufacturing and transportation & logistics to give visibility to an organization’s assets, people and transactions.

IoT for Retailers: Getting Over the Blurred Vision

With so many eyes on the Internet of Things (IoT) it’s no wonder that we have blurred vision. Ask 10 people for a definition of IoT and you may get 10 different answers, with mentions of the Internet, cloud, data, devices, mobility, sensors and more.  ISO, the International Standards Organization, has its own: “An infrastructure of interconnected objects, people, systems and information resources together with intelligent services to allow them to process information of the physical and the virtual world and react.”

Michael Liard, Independent Analyst & Consultant / Chairperson, AIM Global IoT Committee / Executive Board Member, The RFID Professional Institute

If that definition speaks to you, congratulations. But if not, don’t worry. Any existing definition is less important than retailers determining what it means to them and their customers and then acting on it. I often advise retailers to define IoT and not let it define them.

I consider the big three enabling IoT technologies and solutions to include mobile devices, solutions and platforms (e.g. device management, WiFi, Bluetooth); AutoID and AIDC technologies (e.g. barcode, NFC, RFID); and machine-to-machine (M2M) technologies. Interestingly, the first mention of IoT was in papers published by the MIT AutoID Center in 1999, in which RFID was mentioned as a key enabler. That vision has since then been expanded to include many other sensors, devices and communication methods, but retailers who have an RFID pilot or implementation in place clearly have a leg up in approaching IoT.

So what should IoT mean to you? Well, what is your most vexing problem? Perhaps you want to empower or connect to more customers through a smartly enabled mobile app experience (e.g., mobile marketing). If you are like most retailers, loyalty customers are responsible for up to 80 percent of your sales. So you may enhance your loyalty programs first, so valued shoppers can receive special offers on their smart phones after communicating with an iBeacon in their favorite store.

When it comes to IoT solutions in retail, however, the approaches are many and the applications vary. Perhaps omni-channel is your biggest pain point? Or providing a richer, more interactive experience through digital tags and interactive displays; personalized virtual closets that match items at home using purchasing histories; or RFID-enabled smart dressing rooms and magic mirrors? For others, speed may be king (i.e., inventory cycle counting, throughput at checkout, customer service on the store floor). Or a retailer moving into new markets may prefer to focus first on better understanding customers in new geographies or for new product categories.

The point is that retailers should figure out which difficult and finite problem they want to address first by deploying an IoT-enabled solution, rather than try to attack all pain points at once.

Once you determine that critical piece of the IoT puzzle, consider these other recommendations:

• Think more strategically about IoT by creating ‘elevated business intelligence’ that includes applied business intelligence, activity based intelligence and event intelligence.

• Review your existing technologies, solutions and platforms, and consider how they may play into your IoT strategy (every retailer has something in place – be it store kiosks, loyalty apps, RFID, etc.). Then see what’s missing in terms of solutions and capabilities and begin to fill the gaps by building on it.

• Cloud-based solutions are critical to fulfilling the promise of IoT; however, too few people are really talking about the data stored in clouds or how to effectively leverage that data by turning it into actionable and meaningful information. The opportunity (at least to me) is clear: it is the attention to and treatment of that data that will determine overall success within IoT.

• Seek out trusted consultants and/or solutions providers to help formulate your IoT strategy and implement it.

• Remember to define IoT and not let it define you.

In truth, IoT is more than just about shiny objects and hype. It’s about devices, processes and people – and how they are all connected. And based upon my many conversations with them, savvy retailers are figuring out that they can harness IoT to make their operations more agile and become more responsive to their shopping customers.

Fashion retailer C&A expands RFID rollout

European fashion retailer C&A is accelerating its RFID deployment by deploying the technology at all of its stores in France by the end of the summer. One-third of its France rollout was completed in 2015. An additional 164 stores are currently being outfitted with the technology, as is C&A’s France-based distribution center. C&A began its RFID journey in 2013 wit a five-store pilot in Germany.

C&A is integrating Checkpoint Systems’ RFID solution into its France-based DC to significantly scale up the number of RFID-tagged items and enable full merchandise visibility within the supply chain. This move also enables the retailer to shift the creation of store advance ship notices from the supplier to the DC, based on an automated and more accurate process. The reading performance, speed and flexibility of the Checkpoint DC solution, on top of having one single software system for both DC and store, were crucial for  C&A to optimize the use of the RFID solution.

“With RFID-enabled DCs and stores, we will improve our stock data accuracy and reduce not-on-shelf-but-on-stock (NOSBOS) so that customers find the right color, size and fit,” says Joachim Wilkens, head of functional IT and supply chain development at C&A Europe. “With RFID, we are building the basis for the C&A omni-channel strategy.”

C&A has already deployed RFID throughout Germany, and recently added RFID source tagging to new product categories including menswear, children’s clothing and suits.

By utilizing Checkpoint’s ™ software, C&A will further automate its inventory data reporting, allowing it to add new stores and apparel categories. By integrating the software into its existing IT architecture, C&A can easily scale-up its adoption of RFID, adding any number of stores and additional countries in a short period of time. The retailer is also able to use country-specific master data attributes to manage multi-country merchandise information.

The new integrated reporting facility will include sales, stock and replenishment data, providing the apparel retailer with real time, full visibility of its merchandise and sales.

Once the in-store roll-out is complete, employees will be able to place several items onto the POS counter simultaneously, where they will be automatically read and processed during the transaction, increasing the service level to consumers.

Video: Apparel retailer Marc O'Polo benefits from RFID

Before Marc O’Polo introduced RFID to its stores, taking inventory would typically require 20 employees for a full eight-hour shift. Now, the process can be completed by four employees in about 60 minutes. That’s just one benefit the European apparel retailer has reaped since running a four-week pilot nearly two years ago.

RFID ensures efficient replenishment and inventory accuracy, and has created seamless replenishment from the distribution center to the store. This inventory knowledge has increased the quality of outbound products and the available product range for customers, while simultaneously helping to grow sales. Marc O’Polo operates stores in 30 countries.


CCL places a high value on Checkpoint’s RFID business

Although some investors believe that CCL Industries’ bid of US $443 for Checkpoint Systems undervalues the company, CCL executives clearly value the RFID aspect of the Checkpoint deal.

“One of the main reasons we decided to make the acquisition is because Checkpoint is one of the major leaders in the world in the development of RFID for better management of inventory, and they also have software packages that work in conjunction with the labels,” Geoffrey T. Martin, President & CEO of CCL, said during a conference call.

CCL CEO Geoffrey Martin says Checkpoint's RFID dominance in retail markets drove the merger.

CCL announced the acquisition last week. It is expected to be voted on by shareholders during the second quarter. CCL, a a global provider of specialty label and packaging solutions, plans to capitalize on Checkpoint’s RFID solutions to bolster its own RFID business.

CCL is especially interested in Checkpoint’s stake in the apparel RFID market, the fastest growing part of RFID in retail. Checkpoint is the No. 2 global provider for RFID solutions in apparel, with leading brands such as Target, Kohls, Home Depot, Decathlon and Inditex among its top RFID retail customers. For the 12 months ended Sept. 27, 2015, Checkpoint generated net revenue of approximately $820 million.

Aside from apparel retail, Martin expects that the deal will complement some of CCL’s smaller RFID business in automotive and healthcare.

“We expect to be able to apply the RFID knowledge right across the company,” says Martin. “We have some nice RFID applications in automotive and healthcare, but that’s not the overriding driver of the transaction. The overriding driver is to be in that apparel space which is where smart label technology is being adopted in a big way.”

CCL was also attracted to Checkpoint’s gross profit margin of 42 percent, and the fact that CCL expects to squeeze $40 million in synergies out of the deal in the first 18 months.

“They have some proprietary technology (OATSystems) in the RFID space which is a big driver of the high growth profit margin,” he said. “I do think some of it has to do with the need to do installs with equipment that goes with the RFID labels, which is high margin. There is a lot of opportunity there.”

The potential for future RFID deals is also significant for CCL. In its last quarterly sales call, Checkpoint CEO George Babich noted that the conversion of just a small handful of the RFID, EAS or R&D projects in the pipeline to an enterprise-wide rollout would dramatically change Checkpoint’s near-term top and bottom line financial trajectory

North Star Partners, one of the largest investors in Checkpoint Systems with a 3.9 percent ownership stake, is objecting to Checkpoint’s offer from CCL. Imperial Capital is also on record that the deal did not fetch enough return for Checkpoint shareholders.

NFL will expand use of RFID in 2016-17 with player metrics

When the Denver Broncos host the Carolina Panthers to start the 2016-17 NFL season Thursday night, it will mark the third year that the NFL has relied on RFID technology for enhanced statistics and game knowledge.

The NFL will expand its use of RFID this season to track player performance metrics that will be available to all coaching staffs.

But this season things get interesting. Coaching staffs now have the ability to tap into data from games to manage player activity and monitor metrics  including player speed, distance traveled, alignment, acceleration and deceleration. The tracking technology will help teams evolve training, scouting and evaluation through increased knowledge of player performance. Now, if a coaching staff notices that a player’s speed has tailed off considerably, they might consider replacing the player for an offensive series.

In addition, the NFL used Zebra RFID tags in every football during all pre-season games. Previously, they had been used only in special games like the Pro Bowl.

Last year more than 2,500 players wore two RFID tags embedded into each shoulder pad. The tags, the size of a nickel, were capable of being read 15 times a second. The NFL deployed more than 7,500 tags for players, officials, yard markers and pylons. Players were tracked in more than 330 NFL games, an increase from the 130 games tracked during the first season of use in 2014. This year, more than 4.5 billion player coordinates will be measured and transmitted.

“Next Gen Stats is entering its third season, and we continue to enjoy working with Zebra to give fans and teams a deeper look into the game,” says Vishal Shah, Vice President, Digital Media, NFL. “Zebra’s focus on innovation has led to advancements in the whole system, from improved software to smaller devices. For example, these improvements now enable us to track objects beyond players, such as the ball which we are currently testing. We are excited for the 2016 Season and for the tracking technology to help teams evolve training, scouting and evaluation through increased knowledge of player performance as well as to provide ways for our teams and partners to enhance the fan experience.”

Recall Holdings rolls out wearable RFID reader solution

Document storage and digital information solutions provider Recall Holdings is taking its RFID program to the next level by introducing wearable RFID scanners for employees at its information center in Atlanta.

The wearable solution from UK-based will provide enhanced efficiency for auditing and chain of custody processes. This program is expected to roll out to Recall’s 300 additional information centers around the world by the end of this year. The U.S. will be the first deployment, followed by Europe and Asia.

Recall Holdings has introduced wearable RFID scanners to provide real-time visibility into its 300 information centers.

tags more than 500,000 documents a month. It has approximately 60-65 million RFID tagged-items in its information centers globally. It is estimated that in the U.S. alone.

Currently, Recall’s RFID solution is an event-oriented inventory management system. The new active system enables tag reading as employees go about their daily routines. The IC team covers more than 98 percent of the inventory in a given month as it moves through the storage facility.

Recent technical trials indicate this new scanning method has improved the overall process, as assets are regularly audited, complementing and reducing the time required for full site audits from as much as four weeks to a few days.

“Recall has been a pioneer in integrating RFID technology into the information management industry and has been focused on improving and innovating this technology for a decade,” says Ron McMurtrie, senior vice president and global chief marketing officer at Recall. “As we continue to further enhance our audit processes with industry-first RFID technology, we expect increased value for our customers as we provide near real-time updates, greater chain of custody documentation and stronger information governance programs.”

Recall’s introduction of wearable RFID scanners builds on more than 10 years of research and development in the security and tracking technology as it relates to its document storage cartons, individual files and backup tapes stored at Recall information centers, for the benefit of its global customer base.

“In addition to reducing auditing time and costs, wearable RFID scanners and their continuous auditing can fundamentally change what we are able to provide in terms of ‘real-time’ visibility and reporting for our customers,” says Jon Poole, director of operating technologies and innovation at Recall.

Eventually, Recall plans additional use cases for the wearable technology. The company is already piloting the solution for active file management programs it runs at customer locations.

“We are piloting the technology for active file management programs for customer sites so as documents move from room to room internally, we can track for chain of custody within the customer file rooms that we manage,” says McMurtrie. “So you can see how that really provides insight into real-time. It helps our IC’s right now because with all the movement in the center, we now have visibility to that in real time. When you think of how that can extend to active file management, it’s a pretty slick application.”

How automated warehouses can gain from RFID

Despite the advances made in distribution center operations over the years, many of today’s “automated” DCs are not even close to being fully automated. Even though the role of the DC has evolved to meet the faster pace of retail and to adapt to more flexible fulfillment options, much work remains.

In fact, some areas of the DC are still labor intensive and, as a result, error prone. This article reviews three challenging warehouse tasks and how RFID can be a major part of the solution.

While it’s true that some distribution centers run by companies like Amazon and Walmart are highly automated, most continue to have manual processes. A prime example is picking orders. In many cases, the basic processes that we see today are similar to what existed two decades ago. Back then, you printed out the order, ran down an aisle, found the goods, brought items back to your area, packed it up and shipped it out. The problem is that beyond this being time consuming, there were opportunities for errors to creep in at every point.

Add to this challenges today imposed by rush shipments and an increasing number of omni-channel orders — which must be picked at the individual level and then shipped directly to customers – and it’s easy to see why problems persist.


Inditex continues RFID rollout to 2,000 Zara locations

Enhanced customer service continues to drive RFID deployment at Inditex. At the end of 2015, Inditex had deployed RFID at 1,542 of its Zara stores in 64 countries, with rollouts complete in 48 countries. By the end of this year, the technology will be up and running at 2,000 Zara stores. At that point, the company will begin deploying the technology to its other brands.

“We think (RFID) is a very positive change in the way we operate the stores from every point of view,” Inditex president Pablo Isla said in the company’s earnings report last week. “Of course, the main target for implementing RFID has to do with customer service. But it also helps a lot in terms of the way we receive the product in the store, the way we replenish from the stockroom to the floor, and the inventories. So it is helping a lot from every point of view.”

The real-time inventory visibility allowed by RFID supports Inditex’s strategic omni-channel objectives, ensuring that the right products are in the right place at the right time. At its enabled stores, Inditex is achieving operational efficiencies through improved inventory processes and better controls for reducing shrink. The retailer is optimizing its inventory investment and maximizing sales and margins.

“So now we can offer our customers a much better service, from the point of view of the service we offer them, also from the point of view that we can check immediately if (an item) is available or not,” says Isla. “Then we offer them the possibility to order online from the stores.”

Inditex is utilizing Tyco’s Sensormatic dual technology RFID/Acousto-Magnetic (RFID/AM) hard tags and detachers at the point-of-sale. Tyco is also managing Inditex’s tag recirculation program and distributing tags to the point of manufacture to be sent back into the supply chain.



RFID drives one hour delivery at American Apparel

The inventory accuracy provided by RFID technology is allowing American Apparel to deliver online orders to its customers within 60 minutes. The retailer is working with on-demand logistics provider Postmates to provide one-hour delivery from 79 of its stores nationwide spanning 31 metropolitan areas.

RFID is enabling American Apparel to deliver online orders in 60 minutes.

Consumers will have the ability to order over 50 of American Apparel’s core items for men and women. In an effort to grow the clothing company’s mobile and user experience, the consumer will receive their order within 60 minutes instead of the traditional four to five days it takes through standard shipping methods.

“American Apparel is improving its omni-channel consumer experience via Postmates by becoming their first major fashion retailer to offer ‘on-demand basics’,” says Thoryn Stephens, American Apparel’s Chief Digital Officer. “You’ll be able to receive hoodies, t-shirts, socks and more within a sixty minute delivery window — it’s great for traveling or last-minute needs.  For the second phase we’re integrating the experience with RFID for real-time inventory availability.”

American Apparel is providing Postmates with RFID real-time inventory that allows them to display the most up-to-date merchandise offering. The participating American Apparel retail stores will have access to the merchant app, Postmates Order via an Android tablet, which will display items directly on a terminal in the store. This will allow the American Apparel retail team to retrieve and package the order while the Postmates driver is on the way to pick it up.

“The combination of American Apparel’s real-time, local inventory paired with Postmates’ superior delivery technology and national footprint is changing the way customers can access their favorite brands,” says Holger Luedorf, Postmates’ senior vice president of business. “One or two day shipping is no longer an option – we are creating entirely new customer expectations.”

With a one hour guaranteed delivery time, Postmates estimates this process will save 15-20 minutes per order and will result in higher order accuracy. The integration is also set up to allow Postmates to invoice American Apparel instead of the driver’s credit card at pick-up, which will result in further savings of credit card fees and time.

American Apparel previously tested Postmates in major cities such as New York and San Francisco with limited marketing and positive results. American Apparel is the first official and largest in-app apparel partner.

Drones demonstrate inventory solution at Cebit 2016

The use of drones for inventory control is gaining momentum. A special event at this year’s DRONEMASTERS Summit in March demonstrated that drones are ready to perform autonomous inventory checks.

As part of the project, specially designed radio-controlled flying machines, called hexacopters, were put to the test during Cebit 2016 in Hannover, Germany. The drones navigated five specially-built areas to locate and log objects, and then sent the data to a web-based solution that displayed real-time inventory status.

Each section of the simulated warehouse environment was stocked with storage boxes equipped with NXP UCODE UHF IC’s. The drones, equipped with RAIN RFID readers, made their way through the warehouse identifying boxes individually and in batches. The drones then sent the collected data back to the web-based solution, where it was displayed in an easy-to-read, highly accurate visualization of real-time inventory.

Kurt Bischof, global senior marketing manager from NXP Semiconductors, says that until recently, a person was needed to physically walk by the shelves and scans the goods with a RFID handheld reader device. However, in two to three years, small drones will be able to fly autonomously by the shelves just before a retail store opens to capture real-time inventory data.

The demonstration showed that flying robots are ready to do business. It is anticipated that drones will be able to guide themselves to the appropriate location, using sensors that observed and analyzed the surrounding environment, and are able to identify the objects designated for tracking.

In a commercial setup, the collected inventory data could be processed, analyzed, and used for further planning and management processes, creating an inventory-control system that has the potential to be more accurate, efficient, and automated than ever before.

The demonstration at Cebit was the result of a unique collaboration of private and public-sector organizations. The demonstration used RAIN RFID technology from NXP Semiconductors, along with the logistic solution from and the label-maker . The drones were provided by , a research project driven by Bonn University, the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics (IML), Widemann, Panop, and Aibotix, and funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economic and Energy, as part of the technology program “AUTONOMIX of Industry 4.0.”

While the DRONEMASTERS demo was designed to highlight commercial drone applications, the event made clear that, as drones become part of the technical infrastructure, they will enable many new applications, in everything from logistics and agriculture to public services, healthcare, and the security sector.

To learn more, visit the CeBIT site for the .

To receive additional information and watch videos of the drones in action visit .

RFID Wristband
Sensors enhance the shopping experience

It’s no surprise that sensors in devices such as smartphones, beacons and interactive dressing rooms are becoming a normal part of the retail shopping experience. The next logical step for retailers is to understand touch points across the shopping journey, from browsing to consideration to purchase, and then use collected data to improve customer experience and omni-channel logistics.

So how can retailers use data they collect more effectively to delight shoppers and drive sales without impacting profitability? Here’s a simple example that includes sensors already in use today by many retailers. It shows how shopper we’ll refer to as Callie interacts with sensors throughout her shopping experience in a satisfying manner that builds her relationship with a retailer and leads to increased sales.

It all starts when Callie receives a text from a friend that includes a photo of shoes from a social media site. Her friend tells her that the shoes pictured will go great with the outfit she’ll be wearing to an upcoming wedding, and suggests she check them out.


Retailer Vivienne Westwood turns to RFID for item verificati

Renowned fashion company Vivienne Westwood has turned to RFID source tagging to help improve product authentication. Based in Frick, Switzerland, Vivienne Westwood is using a solution from TexTrace AG, a pioneer in advanced technology for the apparel industry, for an innovative approach to authentication. TexTrace began delivering the tags in November. Vivienne Westwood’s tag usage has reached six figures.

Fashion retailer Vivienne Westwood is using RFID for product authentication for men's accessories.

Working with partner Eximia Srl, the TexTrace solution incorporates RFID technology into woven brand labels, offering secure protection with the genuine brand look and feel. Highlights of the solution include:

– Source tagging at the point of manufacture protects assets throughout the channels.

– Encoding and shipping RFID labels direct to a retailer’s suppliers enables TexTrace to offer unique and encrypted encoding of the RFID label to enable authentication and prevent counterfeits.

– The TexTrace RFID brand label is an integral part of the product as opposed to a hangtag or care label.

The TexTrace solution addresses a common problem for brand owners. A company’s brand is its most valuable asset, and brand protection is a growing problem worldwide. Beyond concerns about counterfeit products and shrinkage, brand owners also are being impacted by significant brand devaluation due to an increase in grey market activity, where designer brands are sold at prices anywhere from 20 to 60 percent below market value.

As brand labels have been ruled to be legally part of a product, brand owners can take action against unauthorized resellers, charging them with product tampering if needed. Garment care labels, however, are not considered part of the product by law, so RFID enabled care labels don’t offer the true brand protection provided by a brand label. The TexTrace woven RFID brand label allows items to be tracked throughout the supply chain, with easy authentication using standard RFID technology at the border and in the store.

“TexTrace offers the right mix of technology, textile expertise and reliability to deliver a woven RFID brand label that meets the exacting standards of the Vivienne Westwood brand,” says Nurben Usta, of Vivienne Westwood’s production department.

“We won’t sacrifice our brand for technology. TexTrace helped us imagine ways to use technology to enable a better distribution process and achieve the peace of mind that comes with authentication of our brand.”

“We are pleased to be the trusted supplier to Vivienne Westwood, integrating RFID into a quality woven label design that delivers brand protection from point of manufacture to point of sale and beyond,” says Sybille Korrodi, head of marketing and business development at TexTrace. “Based on our experience as a technology supplier to apparel brands and manufacturers, we have developed a reliable solution for brand authentication that is tailor made for the fashion industry.”

Vivienne Westwood RFID enabled brand labels will launch with the spring 2016 men’s accessories line. While the initial phase of the RFID project is focused on product authentication, deployment for improving logistics and inventory management will soon follow.

RFID Wristband
White Paper: RFID enhances omni-channel fulfillment at Macys

Peter Longo, Macy’s President of Logistics and Operations, recently noted inventory degradation occurs at a rate of about 2-3% a month stating, “You don’t want to make decisions based on bad data.”

Macy's continues to innovate with RFID.

Merchandise movements, administrative errors and system updates can all cause inventory distortion over time, but RFID can help to eliminate these causes, all of which are detrimental to the fulfillment process.

By leveraging Tyco Retail Solutions’ TrueVUE™ RFID Inventory Visibility platform, Macy’s was able to establish a foundation of inventory accuracy in key replenishable product categories across all 800 stores. The success of the initial pilot program and resulting statistics empowered Macy’s to explore new ways to use RFID technology in fashion areas for omni-channel fulfillment.

Now, Macy’s is enhancing its omni-channel fulfillment capabilities with its unique “Pick to the Last Unit” (P2LU) program. Driven by RFID, Macy’s is accessing its full inventory assortment and establishing enterprise-wide inventory accuracy in key product categories to fulfill customer demand. Having this level of inventory accuracy and visibility helps Macy’s drive increased sales to provide a better customer experience.


Born Identity: Avery & EVRYTHNG Ink Largest IoT Deal

Living in a connected world just became more of a reality. Label giant Avery Dennison Retail Branding and Information Solutions and technology platform provider Evrythng have inked a deal that will enable at least 10 billion footwear and apparel items to be “born” with unique digital identities and data profiles in the cloud over the next three years. The companies believe the deal represents the largest number of IoT-connected products in a single collaborative effort.

RFID will play a key role in connecting 10 billion apparel goods to the Internet of Things.

Avery Dennison works with some of the world’s largest apparel brands, including Adidas and Nike. Adidas had connected shoes on display at the Smartrac booth at the National Retail Federation’s Big Show in New York earlier this year.

Among other things, the deal will enable consumers to verify product authenticity, interact with their products to unlock personalized digital content, services, offers and extras. Consumers who lose their car keys or running shoes will simply be able to Google them.

This is probably the biggest deal the [Internet of things] industry has had,” Niall Murphy, the CEO of Cisco and Samsung-backed Evrythng, told Fortune. “It’s a program we’ve been working on for quite a long time.”

With the smartphone becoming the remote control for the digital world, consumers expect to interact with brands through digital means. The introduction of the Janela™ Smart Products Platform, powered by Evrythng, enables the apparel and footwear industry to take this to a whole new level. By using Evrythng’s digital identity and data management capabilities, Avery Dennison can now enable its customers’ products to be digitized at the point of manufacturing.

“The fact that at least 10 billion Avery Dennison RBIS products will be digitized at the point of manufacture is both a milestone in making the Internet of Things mainstream and a huge enabler for the apparel and footwear industry in particular,” says Murphy.

Product History: Data about product materials, manufacturing and distribution can deliver total transparency to consumers about where the product came from and how it was made.

Loyalty Rewards: Consumers can interact with their products to unlock personalized digital content, services, offers and extras, or link to third-party apps for other rewards and benefits.

Product Reordering: Consumers can interact with products by using their digital identities and their smartphones to reorder products they like or access similar products that they may want to purchase.

Brand Protection: Brands can put stronger protection programs in place with item level digital authentication and real-time analytics, tackling the challenge of goods sold being counterfeit.

Loss Prevention: A product that carries data about where and when it was purchased cannot fraudulently be returned, helping retailers address fraud that costs the industry billions of dollars globally each year.1

Personalized Recommendations: Consumers can access unique personalized content on their smartphones like personal styling suggestions, new season tips, health and fitness content and event invitations, which are triggered by the product and based on past purchases.

Sustainability: Recycling becomes a lot easier for consumers and brands alike when a product can trigger specific information on what to do when it reaches its end-of-life, including how to upcycle for a second use or how to find the nearest recycling center.



SSC Wind relies on tool tracking in harsh environments

SSC Wind is a provider of technical services to the wind energy sector and has commissioned more than 1,300 wind turbines throughout Europe — both onshore and offshore.

When SSC’s technicians climb a tower for a repair or for other reasons, it is esential that they have a complete tool bag with them for the job. SSC recently relied on an RFID solution from DHL MYIdentification (DHL-MyID) to ensure that all jobs go smoothly by providing technicians with the proper resources.

SSC Wind is relying on RFID to keep track of tools, including when they need to be calibrated.

By retrofitting all tools with HF RFID, SSC has seen productivity improve by 20-25 percent, and a 25 percent savings in labor costs. SSC has also reduced costs associated with inventory checks by 30 percent, and improved product traceability by more than one-third.

In addition, SSC reduced container transportation costs up to 75 percent, since containers can now be transported from one project site to another because there is no more need to return equipment containers to the SSC Wind HQ/warehouse for updates and inventory checks.

SSC’s tooling and equipment is now outfitted with a MylD robust and miniaturized HF UHF MasterTag (RFID tag). The tags are specially designed for harsh and on-metal environments with a long data retention time. Collected data is digitally registered in real time while reading the MasterTag with a handheld reader or smart phone, and is instantly and securely linked through the cloud to customer’s existing ERP or IT system. A GPS tracking system is also connected to DHL-MylD’s software program which allows supervisors and SSC Wind management to monitor entire operations, from container routing and position to the entire (quality) product lifecycle and equipment utilization to carrying out quantity completeness checks, including the digitized registration of technicians on site and their worked hours.

Portable tool bags for technicians who climb the towers are also equipped with UHF MasterTags with a handheld reader that is configured to read all 45 tools inside the tool bag in less than five seconds. The solution also carries a built-in alert for tool input, tools returned, tool-fitness and completeness check.

Delta invests $50 million in RFID to track 120 million bags

Delta Air Lines is sinking $50 million into RFID baggage tracking technology to become the first U.S. carrier to provide customers with real-time tracking for their luggage.

RFID will replace barcode scanning for the 120 million bags Delta handles annually.  With RFID, scanners use radio waves to capture data stored on an RFID chip embedded in the luggage tag. Delta has deployed 4,600 scanners, installed 3,800 RFID bag tag printers and integrated 600 pier and claim readers to enable hands-free scanning of baggage throughout the handling process.

RFID will track 120 million pieces of baggage for Delta

“With a $50 million investment in RFID at 344 stations around the globe, we aim to reliably deliver every bag on every flight,” says Bill Lentsch, Delta’s Senior Vice President – Airport Customer Service and Cargo Operations. “This innovative application of technology gives us greater data and more precise information throughout the bag’s journey.”

Initial deployments of RFID integrated throughout the baggage process show that bags are tracked at a 99.9 percent success rate, ensuring proper routing and loading. Beginning in the fourth quarter of this year, Delta customers will now be able to see their bags on and off the aircraft during their journey via push notifications to the Fly Delta mobile.

For customers, RFID means much more than just consistent baggage handling.

“In the same way that customers want information at their fingertips about flight changes, we know our customers want clear visibility to their checked bags,” said Tim Mapes, Delta’s Chief Marketing Officer. “Delta’s industry-first baggage tracking app was a good first step. RFID will allow us to set a new standard for more transparent, interactive tracking on the Fly Delta mobile app.”

RFID will soon track bags on all Delta mainline and Delta Connection flights. Spread throughout 84 of Delta’s largest stations, 1,500 belt loaders will give baggage the green light – literally – as it enters and exits the belly of a plane. The belt loader sensor will flash green when the bag is being loaded on the correct aircraft or red when the bag requires additional handling.

Today when a customer misses his or her connection, agents on the ground manually scan each bag to find the customer’s luggage and ensure it is retagged for the new flight. With RFID scanners, agents have the ability to take inventory quickly or pinpoint a single bag.

“We’ve put every part of our process for baggage handling under the microscope and evolved it to the point of industry-leading performance,” Lentsch, said. “RFID will give Delta people a great tool to further widen the gap between us and our competitors.”

Sport Zone to deploy RFID across all stores

Sport Zone, the largest sports retailer in Portugal, has decided to deploy RFID across all of its 120 stores. By September, the retailer plans to have its first 10 stores up and running. After a successful pilot at two stores, Sport Zone expects to enhance supply chain management and improve the overall retail customer experience.

Sports Zone, Avery Dennison and Tyco Retail Solutions launched a pilot program in April 2015 by tagging apparel and footwear in two stores. Sports Zone improved stock accuracy to 99 percent, saw a 92 percent reduction in stock counting efforts and a 90 percent reduction in receiving efforts. The retailer also saw a significant sales lift.

“This pilot is the beginning of a new era in Sport Zone. The RFID adoption enabled us to deliver a reliable store stock visibility and improves our customer service on the shop floor,” says Miguel Teles, head of supply chain at Sport Zone. “The end game of the RFID pilot enabled us to consolidate our position as an omni-channel player.”

Avery Dennison has worked with Sport Zone for several years, offering integrated branding solutions in addition to launching its RFID pilot program, which includes source tagging and enterprise resource planning (ERP) integrations.

As part of the rollout, initially to 10 stores, Avery Dennison will continue to innovate by providing soft tag RFID for all the different product categories, in addition to integrating its solutions with Sport Zone’s IT system.

NXP tags will drive U.S. DOT's Smart City Challenge

RFID tagging solutions from NXP are set to drive the next generation of innovation in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge. The U.S. DOT announced this week that NXP RFID tags will enable automatic vehicle identification and more streamlined traffic and toll payments, while smart card ICs will facilitate and secure e-Government services.

Pittsburgh, Portland, Austin, Tex., Columbus, Ohio, Denver, Kansas City and San Francisco have been chosen as finalists in the Smart City Challenge. The winning city will receive a $40 million grant to become the country’s first city to fully integrate innovative technologies – self-driving cars, connected vehicles, and smart sensors – into their transportation network.

To date, the NXP contribution to the Smart City Challenge has included vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2X) technology; long-range, secure and private RFID tagging for automatic vehicle identification and road safety systems; and smart card ICs to enable secure admission to transportation, access control, retail and other municipal services.

NXP’s innovations in contactless technology will help the winning city to provide convenient multi-modal transportation services beyond common public transport including bike sharing, car sharing, e-charging and parking. A single secure credential — a MIFARE card, a wristband, a smart e-ID a wristband or a mobile phone – can allow citizens to use multiple services. The reader infrastructure can handle all that and enable smart cities to further enhance their service offering through a multi-application platform.

Secure long-range RFID tags integrated in license plates make automatic vehicle identification easier for governments and road users. Cars do not need to stop to pay tolls, they don’t even need to slow down. Also road safety systems profit from this secure long-range solution.

RFID Wristband
Researchers from Disney, CMU use RFID for real-time gaming

A team of researchers from and has discovered a way to process RFID tag signals with enough speed to make them suitable for use in games, physical interfaces and other interactive objects.

The technique makes it possible to use RFID tags to sense movement or touch in near real-time. The low-cost tags could soon be incorporated into slider and rotary controls for games and toys, or for use in other applications that demand prompt response. Typically, RFID tags are most commonly used for asset tracking and inventory control in retail stores and warehouses.

Researchers from Disney and Carnegie Mellon University are using RFID tags to make physical objects, such as this Tic-Tac-Toe board, interactive with digital devices.

“You can create interactive objects that are essentially disposable and perhaps even recyclable,” says Scott Hudson, professor in Carnegie Mellon’s  (HCII). He says that RFID tags could also be incorporated into durable objects, such as interactive pop-up books and toys, in which batteries or wires would be inconvenient or infeasible.

The CMU and Disney researchers presented their research this month at CHI 2016, the .

The solution revolves around a framework called RapID that interprets the signals by weighing possibilities rather than always waiting on confirmation. For example, a slider controller might work by moving an object that successively obscures the antennas of a series of RFID tags. If one obscured tag suddenly is uncovered, the system might reason that the next tag in line will be obscured. RapID reduced typical lag times from two seconds to less than 200 milliseconds, which is similar to other interactive systems.

The researchers demonstrated the capability of RapID by instrumenting a toy spaceship, whose movements would animate an on-screen spaceship; by developing a Tic-Tac-Toe application that uses a physical game board and pieces, and congratulates players when they win; and by building an audio control board that enables an interactive music-mixing experience, among other apps.

“By making it easy to add RFID-based sensing to objects, RapID enables the design of new, custom interactive devices with a very fast development cycle,” says Alanson Sample, research scientist at Disney Research.


Researchers unveil plans to develop smaller RFID tags

Researchers from North Carolina State University are looking for industry partners to help commercialize new technology that allows them to make RFID tags in smaller form factors. The researchers say that new developments will enable them to produce a tag that is 25 percent smaller than current versions – making tags less expensive and opening up new opportunities to tag items that are small and also less expensive.

Although the passive RFID tags have less read range than current tags, researchers are confident that future generations of the tags will have similar read ranges to those on the market today.

Passive RFID tags are commonplace in the retail industry, where they are used to provide better visibility into inventory. They are also used for asset tracking in many industries.

“By eliminating the hardware that is used to convert the AC signal to DC for powering the circuit, we are able to make the RFID tag much smaller and less expensive,” says Paul Franzon, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at NC State, and senior author of a paper on the work.

The smaller form factor is possible because the tags do not need to convert alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC) in order for the tags to function effectively.

With passive RFID, a “reader” transmits a radio signal that is picked up by the RFID tag. The tag converts the AC of the radio signal into DC in order to power internal circuits. Those circuits control the signal that is bounced back to the reader.

RFID Wristband
Levi Strauss wins Operational Excellence Award for RFID

Levi Strauss & Co. was a pioneer when the company invented blue jeans in 1873. All these years later, the company is still innovating with its use of RFID technology. This week Levi’s received the Operational Excellence Award from GS 1 US for its use of EPC and RFID to realize significant operational efficiencies by moving its RFID tagging upstream from the distribution center to the manufacturing source.

Levi's has moved nearly all tagging for its U.S. items to the source of manufacture.

Levi’s sells its products in 50,000 outlets in more than 110 countries. The company began its RFID journey close to 10 years ago with a simple pilot for one customer in the U.S. and with limited tagging for retail stores in Mexico. The program eventually grew to 12 million items tagged per year. As it grew, the DCs started to experience capacity limitations. The global supply chain team at Levi Strauss & Co. made the decision to move tagging from the DC to the source of manufacture, and began to work with their 50-plus manufacturing partners to educate them on EPC standards, sourcing RFID tags, the application of tags (per GS1 Standards), compliance requirements, and the overall benefits of RFID. Within 18 months, the Levi’s team scaled from tagging 100 percent downstream to over 85 percent upstream at vendors for U.S. volume, with plans to further scale the program.

Last year consumes about 60 million tags annually for tagging of men’s jeans. Ernesto Hochkoeppler, director of logistics planning and PM for Levi’s, said at the time that number would exceed 100 million units in 2016 as the retailer begins to tag men’s shorts and more women’s lines.

Operational efficiencies and customer satisfaction results have been impressive. The DCs saw significant improvement in productivity and realized double digit cost savings as they moved tagging upstream. Levi’s execs credit GS1 standards for helping make their adoption, use, and implementation journey easier, including the 2014 release of the GS1 US Tagged Item Performance Protocol (TIPP) Guideline, which enabled Levi’s to meet varying tagging requirements from their vast community of retail partners. Last fall Levi Strauss & Co. announced an RFID pilot in three of its U.S. retail stores—with a goal to improve inventory accuracy and visibility so consumers can locate items easier.

Levi Strauss and Intel are also working with  to , which is then pulled into the cloud and is translated into insight that is dispersed to company executives, store personnel and to the supply chain for help with forecasting and inventory planning.

RFID Wristband
Process Automation: A Key Ingredient of RFID Retail Rollouts


RFID is often called a foundational technology. Without it, you can’t manage complex inventory assortments or profitably fulfill omni-channel orders. Many retailers are implementing RFID to enable real-time inventory reports and dashboards – but RFID and sensor technology reap far greater awards when coupled with process automation.

While reports can be useful, store managers must be actively involved in knowing what’s going on in their stores, and must ensure that real-time inventory information is integrated with store processes.

For example, knowing where retail inventory is located is a helpful timesaver, but it doesn’t go far enough. Without automated processes, store associates may still end up on inefficient scavenger hunts to pick, pack and fulfill omni-channel orders, leaving the door open for a poor customer experience.

Given the fact that stores have an unpredictable number of daily omni-channel orders – it might be three or could be 30 — critical process automation in conjunction with excellent inventory visibility is imperative.

To use a GPS analogy, most consumers wouldn’t settle for a GPS system that merely showed a point on a map. They would want to know how to get there in the most time efficient manner. Store associates need similar tools on their in-store mobile devices.

In fact, many larger stores have already begun integrating inventory, merchandising and product information from multiple systems into mobile apps for store associates. Doing so, they have been able to create to-do lists based upon dynamic inventory movement, allowing them to focus on hot sellers, instead of slow movers. Interestingly, these days, it doesn’t take a large mobile investment for store associates to be given these capabilities. In fact, mobile tools are readily available to automate retail processes.

It’s important to implement these capabilities sooner rather than later.  He who hesitates is lost:

Don’t Wait for Chain-Wide RFID Tagging

One of the biggest mistakes well-meaning retailers make is to assume that everything in the store must RFID tagged, and to do any less isn’t worth the effort. That couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, that position may prevent retailers from improving their processes and profits immediately.

In fact, reticent retailers should seriously consider employing a mix of older technologies such as barcodes for seasonal and easy-to-find accessories, while using RFID for densely packed/hard-to-find items. Over time, they may wish to RFID tag more of their inventory, but it’s often easier to begin with some bar-coded items as part of a mixed environment.

This will likely be less of an issue in the future as eventually, most apparel will arrive RFID tagged. In fact, at a recent industry conference, I learned that about half of apparel brands are starting to RFID tags for some merchandise categories and retail partners. So if apparel is already coming into stores RFID-ready, why not initiate the program now within a mixed environment and experience immediate benefits?

Don’t Wait for Enterprise Systems Integration

Connecting RFID to automated processes also avoids inventory silos – and disappointed customers. For example, inventory can and should be connected to loyalty apps so retailers can make useful recommendations and offers based upon in-stock inventory, as well as assortment planning.

But it’s a common misconception that all legacy systems must be fully integrated to benefit from RFID. To create a seamless customer experience, retailers can start by updating their data in existing systems of record with RFID. For example, a customer may be browsing online and want to know what is available in her favorite local store — and what can be shipped to her home. That doesn’t require full system integration, but rather requires that sensor data informs multiple systems.

The good news is that while it may take time to integrate legacy systems, it’s not that difficult for retailers to use sensor data to inform multiple systems at once, whether the systems themselves are fully integrated or not.  Data mapping and web services integration enables retailers to deliver most of what they need immediately: meeting customer expectations and creating efficiencies in their omni-channel operations.

Improving Process Automation

Given these factors, what are the next steps retailers may wish to take to improve their process automation? Consider these three best practices:

– Make it easy for store associates to perform repetitive tasks with in-store mobile devices.   Consider first your core work processes (e.g. omni-channel order fulfillment, shelf replenishment) that are manual and most prone to error.

– Full integration with large systems of record could take months or longer. If that is holding you back, then consider first integrating RFID with mobile devices and existing mobile apps.

– Socialize work processes with employees. Smart store operations and logistics and inventory control store managers have taken to living a “day in the life” of an associate so they can test and refine processes in a real-world environment.

– Set the stage for continuous improvement.  In the dynamic retailing world, it’s important to stay flexible and incorporate change management into store operations.

By looking at RFID as a process enabler, not just a foundational technology, it becomes more apparent the value that automating retail processes adds to the equation. And process automation truly is a necessary step for retailers seeking to maximize the value of their RFID deployments.

RFID Wristband
Dave Busters deploys wearable RFID technology

Dave & Busters, the popular restaurant and video game chain, is rolling out wearable RFID technology to all of its locations to replace its card swipe technology. The 84-unit chain began the rollout this month. The wearable devices will cost $10 and will replace the power cards used by customers to activate games. Each wearable device will come loaded with $5 worth of game chips.

Dave & Busters is rolling out wearable RFID technology at all of its locations to replace game access cards.

“We view [RFID] as a relatively low risk proposition,” said Dolf Berle, Dave & Busters President and COO, during the company’s earnings call last week. “We are basically rolling it to the entire system. We think it will just be a more convenient way for people to access the games and activate the games then a power card itself.”

While the RFID solution will only address game access for now, the possibilities are endless. RFID bracelets are widely used in the concert industry, where they can be loaded with cash and used to purchase food and merchandise. Disney has invested heavily in its RFID-enabled MagicBand platform, which allows guests to enter theme parks and board rides and even pay for food at Disney resorts.

that a team of researchers from  and  has discovered a way to process RFID tag signals with enough speed to make them suitable for use in games, physical interfaces and other interactive objects. The technique makes it possible to use RFID tags to sense movement or touch in near real-time. The low-cost tags could soon be incorporated into slider and rotary controls for games and toys, or for use in other applications that demand prompt response.

The new RFID solution will work on all of Dave & Busters games, including the Ghostbusters rollout scheduled for this year, and enhanced versions of the Star Wars Battle Pod and also Star Trek.

RFID Wristband
Researcher wins Fulbright Grant to study RFID

A professor at Ithaca College in New York is collaborating with researchers at the University of Cologne in Germany and University of Parma in Italy to study RFID adoption patterns by retailers in the U.S. and Europe. Narges Kasiri, a professor in the Ithaca College of Business, received a Fulbright Innovation Grant to study the use of RFID in retail and how to improve standards. Her research began in May and will continue through next August.

RFID is enabling American Apparel to deliver online orders in 60 minutes in some markets.

Major retailers like Macy’s, Kohl’s and Target are all deploying RFID to increase inventory accuracy and to enable omni-channel shopping, among other advantages. Macy’s, for example, is using RFID to access its full inventory assortment and establishing enterprise-wide inventory accuracy in key product categories to fulfill customer demand. Having this level of inventory accuracy and visibility helps Macy’s drive increased sales to provide a better customer experience.

Kasiri says that more retailers are adopting RFID as costs drop and its advantages are being realized, but a number of issues remain, including how retailers can best manage consumer privacy, since the information gathered from RFID-equipped products can effectively identify and track a shopper’s movement within a store.

“At macro level, we will study how policies on privacy and other issues across countries and continents have influenced the adoption of RFID,” says Kasiri. “At a micro level, we will investigate RFID-enabled changes in the retail industry, from store layouts and shelf spaces to processes such as assortment management and product replenishment. This analysis will help us develop some guidelines for more comprehensive and standardized adoption of the technology.”


It all adds up for retailers and vendors


I had the opportunity to attend the conference last month, an event that enables supply chain partners to communicate with one another and learn about GS1 standards. I came away with two takeaways: Reaffirmation by knowledgeable retailers that omni-channel retail initiatives can’t be independent of RFID, and that retailers no longer have to work hard to encourage suppliers to accept RFID because they’re already starting to experience its benefits.


Phil Fisher, Director of Product Management, RFID Supply Chain Solutions at Checkpoint Systems

Omni-Channel and RFID Go Hand in Hand

You may already know that omni-channel and RFID are intrinsically linked. In recent years I’ve heard many retailers claim that they can’t focus on RFID because they are prioritizing on omni-channel initiatives. That statement is so counter intuitive.

So it was refreshing to hear several retailers take on the issue at GS1, including early adopter department stores such as Kohl’s and Macy’s. Bill Connell of Macy’s said something that simplified it for me. He noted that if A equals B, and B equals C, then A equals C. Then he explained that if to be successful in omni-channel environments you need accurate inventory (A=B), and to achieve accurate inventory you need RFID (B=C), then to get omni-channel to work right, you must involve RFID technology (A=C).

Apparently, retailers are listening. Dr. Bill Hardgrave of Auburn University noted that more than half of U.S. apparel retailers are already using RFID in some form. He expects to see that number rise this year, noting that omni-channel is the primary driver behind apparel retailers using RFID.

RFID Carrots Have Replaced Sticks

It was also apparent that many suppliers are discovering powerful benefits from RFID, shattering the common perception that RFID is only gaining traction with suppliers because of compliance requirements. Although that was once an accurate statement, the conversations I had with suppliers indicate that RFID is a win-win for both suppliers and retailers.

Bob Carpenter, president and CEO of GS1 US, told attendees that more than 40 percent of apparel brands are now source tagging with RFID. He added that RFID has become a new requirement for omni-channel, which equates with what I heard at multiple panels with participating manufacturers.  One apparel supplier noted that his firm is now capturing mistakes before merchandise leaves the factory, reducing supply chain costs significantly because of fewer returns and increasing customer service because merchandise is available on store shelves.

In another show of progress, it was telling that there is now a GS1 operational award for source tagging, won by Levi Strauss & Co. this year. Because Levi Strauss is both a manufacturer and retailer, it is experiencing benefits at both ends of the supply chain.

Different RFID Drivers for Different Suppliers

Essentially, I heard four reasons why suppliers/brands are showing increased interest in RFID.

First was operational efficiencies, something discussed earlier. If you send out accurate orders, you get fewer returns. Next, brands like Levi Strauss that also own stores can reap double rewards at the brand and retailer level. In addition, once brands are tagging 30 percent of their merchandise, they tend to reach a tipping point at which it makes financial sense to tag everything. Once a brand has significant amounts of special orders, pre-packs, requests for extended product attributes, exceptions become the rule, and RFID tagging (and associated data sharing) becomes a way to streamline outbound shipments to retailers.

And finally, pop up stores, such as kiosks – particularly when they physically exist within another store and have no control over the larger store events — are getting into the act. These “store within a store” retailers are RFID enabling shelves so they can replenish merchandise quickly and accurately, thereby connecting the supply chain end and beginning points. This last trend has proven particularly beneficial for those with strong sales ebbs and flows. Knowing when inventory is low in real time and eliminating out of stocks has increased sales and made them more predictable, enabling them to control their own destiny.

Considerations for Brands, Retailers

Based upon my experience at GS1, here are a few points that brands and retailers should consider:

For retailers:

* If you haven’t done so already, find a way to align your RFID and omni-channel initiatives.

* Share data with your brands so they better understand the benefits of RFID. Show them the carrot before the stick.

For brands/suppliers:

*Open up the lines of communication with your retailers to ensure you are getting the information required for efficient tagging

* Because you can expect more compliant shipments and faster invoicing, look into financial terms to see if you can accelerate payment processes. Efficiencies should enable you to receive invoice information    immediately without having to wait for reconciliation from an end vendor and retailer.

* Investigate ways to reduce the number of variations for different retailers, and normalize the manner in which data is shared. GS1 provides standards for data and packaging, and complying with those standards will enable you to meet most retailer requirements, saving you time and money.

Phil Fisher is Director of Product Management, RFID Supply Chain Solutions at Checkpoint Systems.  He has over two decades of supply chain experience in solutions architecture, sourcing and DC operations. He often comments on supply chain and logistics topics on Twitter @fisherphi

RFID Wristband
Impinj seeks to raise $74 million in IPO

RFID service provider Impinj now hopes to raise as much as $74 million through its planned initial public offering, up from $60 million. According to a new filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Impinj plans for its stock to be priced between $12 and $14 a share.

RFID intelligence from Impinj enables high inventory accuracy and enhanced consumer engagement.

This is the second go round for when it comes to the public markets. The Seattle-based provider of RFID technology hardware and software announced plans for a $100 million IPO in April of 2011. Fifteen months later it abandoned those plans and tapped private investors for $21 in additional funding.

Impinj plans to use $5 million of the IPO proceeds to pay down debt. According to its adjusted IPO filing, Impinj expects third quarter revenue of between $25.3 and $26.3 million, compared to $19.1 million for the third quarter of 2015. Impinj’s projected profitability could swing widely, from a gain of $400,000 to a loss of $1.8 million.

Impinj, which sold its 10 billionth chip last year, has worked hard in the last 24 months to reinvent itself as a software firm, rather than an RFID hardware provider. Its mission to be known for item intelligence includes a software offering that delivers enterprise-ready item intelligence solutions that simplify RAIN RFID processes including device management, data processing and tag encoding.

Impinj has raised more than $100 million since it was founded in 2000. The IPO is one wa for investor sto begin to recover their investment.

European study paves the way for RFID-enabled license plates

NXP Semiconductors has concluded a successful study of embedded passive RFID tags in the license plates of more than 100 military vehicles. The study, conducted for the past 12 months at a military base in the Netherlands, confirmed the secure and reliable use of RFID for vehicle identification in various weather conditions and at speeds of close to 100 miles per hour.

The successful pilot has already led to a large scale implementation of the applied chips in electronic license plate projects in South America. Embedding

RFID was successfully used to identify vehicles during a 12-month pilot in the Netherlands.

RFID into license plates can lead to other business opportunities, such as automated fee collection in parking garages if car owners agree to terms beforehand.

“Because the solution fully supports a privacy respective implementation that respects privacy for all cars, and as the costs of equipping cars with electronic license plates are getting lower, electronic license plates are ready for large scale deployment in Europe,” said Olaf Renz, managing director of Tönnjes, a system integrator that worked on the project.  “When cars are equipped with these electronic license plates, new business opportunities can also be developed. Similarly, the technology can be used for tamper proof vehicle registration and identification, traffic management and access control.”

The trial started in 2015 with cars and trucks equipped with IDePLATEs and IDeSTIXs (windshield labels) with integrated passive RFID chips. Authorized reading units, mounted on a gantry, continuously read the privacy protected unique chip IDs on the license plates and windshield labels of passing vehicles.

“Different challenges were overcome with the field trial,” said Koert Kirpestein, owner and general manager of license plater manufacturer Kirpestein BV. “Many military vehicles are equipped with additional metal cladding and grits which caused interferences for RFID tag antennas. The major challenge was to ensure a reliable identification and verification of IDePLATE and IDeSTIX even with those vehicles. The trial enabled optimizing the results by securing the interaction between hardware and software. These adjustments ensured a secure verification even at high speeds.”

The RFID chips in the field trial used the latest long-range crypto technology developed by NXP, called UCODE DNA. The technology applies the latest security standards and works with cryptographic authentication over distances of up to 12 meters and at a speeds up to 93 miles per hour (150 km/h).

“NXP is committed to offering solutions that include security features,” says Maurice Geraets, managing director of NXP Netherlands. “The UCODE DNA chips are designed to reveal identity information to authorized parties only. The chips send identity information in highly secured transmissions so that only RFID readers, stationary or handhelds, which have access to the corresponding secret cryptographic keys, can decipher this information. With this technology, only authorized readers can monitor which cars are driving where.”

Retail giants Amazon and CN join RAIN RFID Alliance

A couple of major names have joined the RAIN RFID Alliance, indicating accelerated interest in the technology. By signing on with the group, online retailer Amazon and French apparel retailer C&N have pushed RAIN’s membership to 120. RAIN RFID was founded in 2014 by Google, Intel, Smartrac and Impinj.

“The strong growth of the RAIN RFID industry shows that it really does provide significant business value, particularly as a key factor in connectivity for the first few meters of the Internet of Things,” says Steve Halliday, president of the RAIN RFID Alliance.

Apparel retailer C&N is in the final stages of rolling out RFID at all of its stores in France.

with the to explore implementing RFID within its vast supply chain, consisting of more than 100 fulfillment centers worldwide. “RFID is a fascinating technology,” Dave Clark, Amazon’s senior vice president of worldwide operations, said at the time. “As part of this joint project, we are excited to invent new processes and technology using RFID to enhance the experience for customers through better inventory predictability, faster delivery and, ultimately, lower cost.”

Amazon has utilized RFID technology in its fulfillment centers, the massive facilities where customer orders are picked from shelves, moved on conveyers and loaded onto trucks for rapid shipping and delivery.

Earlier this year European fashion retailer C&A by the end of the summer. One-third of its France rollout was completed in 2015. An additional 164 stores are being brought online, as is C&A’s France-based distribution center. C&A began its RFID journey in 2013 wit a five-store pilot in Germany.

C&A is integrating Checkpoint Systems’ RFID solution into its France-based DC to significantly scale up the number of RFID-tagged items and enable full merchandise visibility within the supply chain. This move also enables the retailer to shift the creation of store advance ship notices from the supplier to the DC, based on an automated and more accurate process. The reading performance, speed and flexibility of the Checkpoint DC solution, on top of having one single software system for both DC and store, were crucial for  C&A to optimize the use of the RFID solution.

“With RFID-enabled DCs and stores, we will improve our stock data accuracy and reduce not-on-shelf-but-on-stock (NOSBOS) so that customers find the right color, size and fit,” says Joachim Wilkens, head of functional IT and supply chain development at C&A Europe. “With RFID, we are building the basis for the C&A omni-channel strategy.”

C&A has already deployed RFID throughout Germany, and recently added RFID source tagging to new product categories including menswear, children’s clothing and suits.

RFID Wristband
RFID continues to take flight in airline industry

The use of RFID is soaring in the global airline business. In May, Delta Air Lines announced it is investing $50 million for RFID baggage tracking technology to track the 120 million bags it handles annually.

Last month the Asia Airfreight Terminal (AAT) in Hong Kong began using RFID unit load device (ULD) tags for pre-packaged cargo. ATT general manager Kuah Boon Kiam says that RFID will speed up the cargo acceptance process by 45 seconds per shipment.

RFID will speed up the cargo acceptance process by 45 seconds per shipment at Asia Airfreight Terminal.

By using RFID, the cargo acceptance process is streamlined to achieve higher operational efficiency and time-saving benefits. Previously, AAT’s cargo acceptance process for pre-packed shipments required two levels of manual data entry at the truck dock and identification point, entering weight and contour for the shipment into its cargo management system (CMS) and supervisory control systems. With RFID embedded on the ULD tag, the data entry process will only occur once at the truck dock area. Once the tag has been tied on the pre-packed shipment, data will be automatically captured when the shipment passes through the i-point.

“We are very pleased to have another innovative product brought to our valuable customers,” says Kiam. “RFID technology could definitely bring a new milestone for the air cargo industry in Hong Kong. Along with our highly reliable cargo operation team, AAT will continue to service our customers with increased efficiency.”

Delta, meanwhile, has deployed 4,600 scanners, 3,800 RFID bag tag printers and integrated 600 pier and claim readers to enable hands-free scanning of baggage throughout the handling process. Delta is the first U.S. carrier to provide customers with real-time tracking for their luggage.

“With a $50 million investment in RFID at 344 stations around the globe, we aim to reliably deliver every bag on every flight,” says Bill Lentsch, Delta’s senior vice president for airport customer service and cargo operations. “This innovative application of technology gives us greater data and more precise information throughout the bag’s journey.”

RFID continues to take flight in airline industry

The use of RFID is soaring in the global airline business. In May, Delta Air Lines announced it is investing $50 million for RFID baggage tracking technology to track the 120 million bags it handles annually.

Last month the Asia Airfreight Terminal (AAT) in Hong Kong began using RFID unit load device (ULD) tags for pre-packaged cargo. ATT general manager Kuah Boon Kiam says that RFID will speed up the cargo acceptance process by 45 seconds per shipment.

RFID will speed up the cargo acceptance process by 45 seconds per shipment at Asia Airfreight Terminal.

By using RFID, the cargo acceptance process is streamlined to achieve higher operational efficiency and time-saving benefits. Previously, AAT’s cargo acceptance process for pre-packed shipments required two levels of manual data entry at the truck dock and identification point, entering weight and contour for the shipment into its cargo management system (CMS) and supervisory control systems. With RFID embedded on the ULD tag, the data entry process will only occur once at the truck dock area. Once the tag has been tied on the pre-packed shipment, data will be automatically captured when the shipment passes through the i-point.

“We are very pleased to have another innovative product brought to our valuable customers,” says Kiam. “RFID technology could definitely bring a new milestone for the air cargo industry in Hong Kong. Along with our highly reliable cargo operation team, AAT will continue to service our customers with increased efficiency.”

Delta, meanwhile, has deployed 4,600 scanners, 3,800 RFID bag tag printers and integrated 600 pier and claim readers to enable hands-free scanning of baggage throughout the handling process. Delta is the first U.S. carrier to provide customers with real-time tracking for their luggage.

“With a $50 million investment in RFID at 344 stations around the globe, we aim to reliably deliver every bag on every flight,” says Bill Lentsch, Delta’s senior vice president for airport customer service and cargo operations. “This innovative application of technology gives us greater data and more precise information throughout the bag’s journey.”

RFID on the Front-Lines: How to Empower Retail Associates

Store associates are on the front lines at a time when business turmoil is creating enormous profitability challenges for retailers. I’ve spent years managing RFID projects in North America and Europe and have learned that getting associates excited about new RFID systems and related processes can make a huge difference in shopper engagement and improved store operations. Based upon my experience, here are five ways that employees empowered with RFID can make a measurable difference in retail operations that span hundreds or even thousands of stores.

 #1: Take advantage of the transformation of mobile devices: The days of handing employees large, unfamiliar devices and telling these reluctant individuals to go out and take inventory are over. Newer devices are smaller, have much more recognizable and intuitive interfaces and work with unified applications that require minimal training. Today, retail managers can give employees a device such as a smart phone with a specialized attachment, demonstrate the applications, tell them what each is used for — and see an entirely different reaction and result. Some of this difference is because younger associates have grown up with mobile devices, but even older associates who own smart phones are far more comfortable with handhelds today. Such devices are able to give associates instantaneous feedback on what each is doing, for example, on fulfillment or item location tasks, and make department managers feel more like small business owners, as they can more directly impact day-to-day business issues to meet their goals.

By Sonya Weed, RFID Program Manager, Checkpoint Systems

#2: Get associates “hooked” early with immediate payoff applications: My favorite way to get associates on board with RFID is to demonstrate an item location application that enables them to help shoppers find merchandise they are seeking. Employees love using a tool to make this quick and simple. This not only improves customer service by providing an immediate payoff, but also gets associates excited about learning other uses of the technology. Another good early application is inventory, one of the least desired manual tasks associates experience. Automating this task raises morale, increases accuracy and enables associates to spend more time on customer-facing activities.

 #3: Focus on merchandise that is “hot” and new: Most retailers have scheduled periodic times to take inventory. Even better, though, RFID systems tied to point- of-sale systems enable them to know what SKUs are selling quickly so they can replenish merchandise automatically as needed. Retailers can now use dynamic processes and task management to replenish fresh assortments and keep hot sellers in stock. Keeping the right quantities of this fast inventory on floor via push processes ensures a better shopper experience and increased sales. Even scheduling inventory tasks more frequently using RFID readers can ensure that retailers keep stock relevant to consumers (in season), so the right merchandise is in the right place at the right time.

 #4: Make everyone a stakeholder: As part of on-boarding, all new employees should receive training on their RFID systems so they can learn best practices and take ownership of what happens in their departments. Once these employees are familiar with RFID, they can train other full-time or seasonal employees. When RFID is being rolled out, retailers may begin by using a limited number of SKUs as part of their pilots and perhaps focus on cycle counting or item location functions. It’s important to get the team involved early and get them invested in the project. I’ve been astonished to see team members get very excited about RFID projects and show creativity in ways in which the technology is used. It’s not unusual for retailers to begin with inventory projects and have associates push for further use in replenishment and by tying RFID to point-of-sale systems. I recall a retailer that created a discounted sales area for clearance goods. A problem developed when customers dropped regular merchandise into that area, creating confusion for other customers who then assumed the merchandise was discounted when they brought it to the register. This decreased customer satisfaction, created awkward situations for sales associates who had to explain the situation, and it slowed down the checkout process. At first, associates began sorting through merchandise manually in the bins to determine which didn’t belong there, but that proved very time consuming. One associate then suggested they use handhelds to quickly and accurately scan for regular merchandise that was misplaced there. They then set up system flags that could filter out merchandise that wasn’t on clearance, solving the problem. The important takeaway here is that it was an associate, not a store manager, who came up with the solution, because that person felt empowered to seek solutions and took ownership of obtaining a positive outcome.


 #5: Keep it fresh and fun. Encourage cross training among associates, enable team collaboration (such as team cycle counting) and reward outstanding work behavior. One retailer uses a contest to reward those associates who fulfill the most omni-channel orders accurately in a set time frame. Beyond small rewards, many retailers also recognize these individuals similarly to how they acknowledge employees of the week/month. Retailers can also use RFID to keep it fresh and fun for their customers. With apparel retailers adding even more seasons, RFID enables them to keep new and trendy merchandise in-stock and available for shoppers, thus encouraging them to come into their stores and make purchases more frequently.

We’ve passed the point of wondering whether RFID can provide retailers with measurable benefits and are now looking at ways to maximize the potential benefits of RFID implementations in real-world situations.  Empowering associates in these five ways chain-wide can dramatically increase customer satisfaction, employee retention and the retailer’s bottom line.

Sonya Weed is an RFID Program Manager at Checkpoint Systems, a division of CCL Industries. She has over a decade of experience in managing large scale IT deployments in retail and healthcare.

G-Star Raw and Denimwall deploy cutting-edge RFID solutions

G-Star RAW,  a designer clothing company with 400 stores globally, and its North American franchisee Denimwall Inc. are reaching new heights with RFID technology. Denimwall, owner of the Union Square store in New York City and six other locations, was looking for a hassle-free end-to-end solution for article visibility to establish a high level of stock accuracy, offer best in class product availability and the best possible shopping experience for customers, and to prepare for omni-channel retail.

The integrated RAIN RFID solution chosen by G-Star RAW utilizes the Impinj platform including ItemSense software and xArray gateways for “hands-free” infrastructure, and delivers item-level visibility and in-store analytics with Detego InStore and RIoT mobile apps. Denimwall can automatically collect data about merchandise, providing accurate inventory information and real-time transparency – all hands-free, without human intervention. Based on perpetual inventory feeds, out-of-stock situations are automatically detected and mitigated by means of an optimized replenishment process leading to a consistently high on-floor availability.

The real-time, item-level transparency also enables Denimwall to better fulfill orders for click and collect. Manual administrative processes are reduced to a minimum, giving sales personnel the time to engage with the customer in order to provide an improved customer experience. Based on RIoTs deep fashion retail and retail systems experience coupled with Detego’s software suite for business intelligence, the solution was deployed in a very short time frame. The fast implementation and deployment was underpinned by a lean and agile approach to immediately realize the aimed business benefits for Denimwall Inc.

“Our primary objective was to significantly increase inventory accuracy to enable an exceptional in-store omni-channel customer experience,” says Craig Leonard, Denimwall CEO. “Our goal was to automatically achieve 98%+ item level accuracy and we are achieving that and more. The increased accuracy has also other major benefits including significantly improving our on-shelf product availability by empowering our brand ambassadors with a BYOD smartphone app advising them in real-time of items needing replenishment; alerting them to potential theft, enabling them to scan an item and pull up live in-store availability and more. Another impressive benefit has been significantly faster POS checkout.”

Shayni Rae, Denimwall, Director Store Operations, says that retailer now has the ability to remotely monitor sales floor replenishment time and loss prevention performance across its network of stores. “The benefits of the store pilot have exceeded our expectations and we are now looking to expand it to our other locations,” says Leonard.


Strong growth drives Impinj higher; will sell 5B tags in '16

The growth potential of the RFID industry can be summed up by Wall Street’s reaction to the Impinj initial public offering over the last six weeks. Impinj blew by analyst expectations when it announced its second quarter results on Aug. 31, rising nearly 21 percent to close at $27.57 a share. Impinj, which priced its IPO at $14 on July 21, saw its stock jump 28% on its first day of trading, closing a few cents shy of $18.

Impinj, which went public on July 21, saw its stock climb 20 percent on Sept. 1 after Q2 results exceeded expectations.

Impinj expects to sell more RFID tags this year than previously reported, raising estimates from 4.3-4.5 billion to 4.9-5.1 billion units. The company said that Q2 revenue grew 36% year-over-year to $26.0 million, and projected third quarter sales of $27.4 million to $28.9 million. Non-GAAP net income of $0.9 million, or $0.06 per share, was higher than industry analyst projections.

“We see a massive and growing market opportunity for our offerings and, with the successful completion of our IPO, we have expanded our available capital and will continue to execute our strategy to further capitalize on this exciting growth opportunity,” says Chris Diorio, Impinj co-founder and CEO. “Revenue grew 36% year-over-year to a record driven by continued demand for our Monza endpoint ICs, which we believe is an indication of accelerating market growth and our strong market position.”

Impinj has rallied around strong retail growth in apparel RFID tagging. Major retail chains like Macy’s are tagging most clothing items to increase inventory visibility and enable omni-channel shopping.

In a research report, Needham analyst James Ricchiuti made bullish comments about Impinj, saying that it is seeing strong growth in retail and healthcare markets, as well as industrial and commercial markets such as baggage handling. Delta recently announced that it will tag 120 million luggage items a year.

RBC Capital Markets told Investor’s Business Daily that total spending on IoT endpoint hardware was about $1.2 trillion in 2015, and is expected to grow to about $3 trillion in 2020. RBC estimates that the RFID market was about $10 billion in 2015 or approximately 0.85% of total IoT spending. By applying the same ratio, RBC estimates that the market could grow to over $20 billion by 2020.

NFL will expand use of RFID in 2016-17 with player metrics

Sed ut sollicitudin arcu, vitae sollicitudin lectus. Praesent scelerisque orci in mauris feugiat, nec maximus augue faucibus. Sed lectus urna, maximus eget leo non, facilisis tincidunt nunc. Etiam non vulputate quam. Mauris dignissim purus vitae aliquet congue. Quisque nec facilisis dui. Ut dui sapien, accumsan vel pellentesque et, volutpat in lectus. Suspendisse vehicula dui in justo laoreet vestibulum. Aliquam ligula diam, ultrices nec quam in, scelerisque euismod nisi. Duis in magna dolor. Curabitur interdum placerat malesuada. Ut egestas est dui, eget lobortis augue varius vel. Aliquam ac commodo neque. Vivamus quis leo sollicitudin metus laoreet dapibus. In euismod auctor erat, ut volutpat velit elementum at. Quisque porta ligula quis dolor placerat fringilla. Nam pretium velit quis lacus bibendum sodales. Aenean nec aliquam urna. Pellentesque et blandit eros. Donec ullamcorper magna nulla

RFID Tutorials: Six ways to speed up the ROI from RFID

As RFID technology has matured over the years, there has been a change in the preliminary questions that users ask about the technology. Rather than inquiring if RFID is right for them, retailers and industrial clients want to know how they can fast track implementation because they realize that RFID can provide  a strong competitive advantage.

This column looks at six ways companies can bring their RFID implementations live and realize ROI more quickly.

Tip 1: Get stakeholders, especially end users, involved early. 

– Tip 2: Define a few outcomes

– Tip 3: Bound the pilot scope and time

– Tip 4. Put boots on the ground.

– Tip 5. Communicate milestones and deliverables.

– Tip 6. It’s all about the data – and how stories are communicated.