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How to RFID-Tag Apparel and Benefit Internally

Wal-mart stores and several other major U.S. retailers are moving forward with projects that use radio frequency identification (RFID) to track apparel items in stores. Retailers that manufacture their own goods, such as American Apparel, can apply RFID tags at the point of manufacture and achieve efficiencies throughout the supply chain. But those that sell apparel from different manufacturers have been tagging items either in their distribution centers or when the goods arrive at the stores. The process is slow, labor-intensive and inefficient, so they would like to see their suppliers do the tagging. Wal-Mart Stores, for example, is working with suppliers of men’s jeans and basics (socks, undershirts and underwear) to track items with EPC RFID tags.

At the same time, some forward-looking apparel manufacturers are choosing to adopt RFID in their manufacturing and distribution facilities. Several case studies of apparel suppliers that have tagged merchandise at the point of manufacture—including the Charles Vögele Group, Lemmi Fashion and NP Collection in Europe—show that there are benefits for suppliers, including: better tracking of goods made by third-party manufacturers in Asia, reduced time and labor to receive goods into warehouses, and improved packing and shipping accuracy. (For more information, see “Internal Benefits” on page 14 of the report.)

Momentum is growing for item-level tagging, for a number of reasons. Tags costs have fallen up to 40 percent over the past 18 months, and technological advances have addressed concerns about tag readability. In addition, research pilots, such as the study by the University of Arkansas’ RFID Research Center regarding RFID’s impact on inventory accuracy, are propelling retailer adoption. In November 2010, Voluntary Interindustry Commerce Solutions (VICS) and standards groups GS1 US and GS1 Canada announced the launch of the Item Level RFID Initiative, which brings together apparel manufacturers and retailers—including Conair, Dillard’s, JCPenney, Jockey, Jones Apparel, Levi Straus, Macy’s, VF Corp. and Wal-Mart—to develop a roadmap for the adoption of RFID at the item (see page 66). And in January, a report released by the University of Arkansas’ Information Technology Research Institute (ITRI) identified 60 unique business cases for the use of item-level RFID in the supply chain, as determined by apparel suppliers (see page 63).

A recent survey by the Aberdeen Group found that 57 percent of retailers are using or plan to deploy RFID at the item level. According to its report, “Item-Level RFID Tagging in Retail: Improving Efficiency, Visibility, Loss Prevention, and Profit,” the Aberdeen survey included 125 executives, managers and other personnel working for retailers in North America, Europe and Asia; these firms represented retailers of apparel, furniture, jewelry and pharmaceutical products, as well as operators of big-box stores.

Whether you decide to RFID-tag items to improve your own internal efficiencies and/or to better serve your customers—retailers would like suppliers to tag voluntarily—item-level tagging is on the road to becoming an established practice in the apparel industry. RFID Journal’s “A Guide for Apparel Manufacturers: How to RFID-Tag Apparel and How to Benefit Internally” is designed to help you save time and money as you deploy RFID technology in your manufacturing and distribution facilities.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Acknowledgements
3
Letter From the Editor
4
Introduction
5
Tagging Options
6
Hardware and Software
8
The Electronic Product Code Numbering System
11
Internal Benefits
14
Retail Apparel Deployments
16
RFID Makes Common People an Uncommon Store
16
German Clothing Company s.Oliver Puts RFID to the Test
17
RFID Helps Speed Up Logistics for Serafini Shoes, San Giuliano Ferragamo Clothes
18
Fly London Uses RFID to Manage Inventory, and Take Customers Around the World
20
Staff Jeans to Introduce RFID-enabled Customer Services
21
RFID Helps Florida Shoe Retailer Keep Its Customers From Walking Away
23
Wal-Mart Relaunches EPC RFID Effort, Starting With Men's Jeans and Basics
25
Serge Blanco Store Takes Stock of RFID
26
Serge Blanco Finds ROI in RFID
28
KissAFrog Leaps into RFID
28
Korean Clothing Company Adds RFID to Its Supply Chain
30
Rica Lewis Profits by Tagging Jeans
31
Organic Clothing Retailer Makes Shopping Personal
33
American Apparel Adds RFID to Two More Stores, Switches RFID Software
34
American Apparel Makes a Bold Fashion Statement With RFID
37
Gerry Weber Sews In RFID's Benefits
38
Carnaval Puts RFID Hangtags on Kids' Clothing
40
RFID Targets Gray Market in Europe
41
Charles Vögele Group Finds RFID Helps It Stay Competitive
43
RFID Trims Costs for Retailer of Lacoste, CK, Burberry
44
Krause Outlet Takes Window-Shopping to the Ultimate Level
45
Turkish Retailer Uses Hybrid EAS-RFID Tags to Stop Theft, Improve Inventory Management
47
Metro Group's Galeria Kaufhof Launches UHF Item-Level Pilot
48
Retail Apparel Case Studies
52
An RFID Fashion Statement
52
On the Trail of Hush Puppies
54
Maternity Apparel Maker Gives Birth to Smart Displays in Stores
58
Clothing Manufacturer Invests Its ROI in RFID
60
Retail Apparel Business and Research News
63
University of Arkansas Study Finds 60 Ways to Use RFID in Apparel Supply Chain
63
Item Level RFID Initiative Focuses on Supplier Benefits
64
Major Retailers, Industry Groups Launch Item-Level RFID Guidelines Initiative .
66
Apparel Retailers Test RFID-enhanced EAS Hard Tags
67
RFID Boosts Store Turnover by Nearly 10 Percent in Italian Pilot
69
Fashion Group Expects Positive ROI Within 3 Years
71
A Conversation With Avery Dennison's James Stafford
73
Bloomingdale's Tests Item-Level RFID
75
Dillard's, U. of Ark. Study Quantifies RFID's Superiority to Manual Inventory Counts
77
Retail Apparel Technology News
79
Checkpoint Systems Launches EPC Numbering Service
79
American Apparel's RFID Guru Launches RFID Software Startup
80

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This important industry report is FREE when you register for the RFID in Apparel Workshop or become an RFID Journal Premium Member
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