by Sheldon R. Reich, CYBRA Corporation
If you sell to a major retailer, sooner or later you'll be supplying RFID-tagged merchandise. It's no secret that retailers with growing omni-channel initiatives see strong benefits with RFID from the DC to the back room and the selling floor. But did you know that every RBO (Retail Brand Owner) can also benefit from this empowering technology? Here's how to turn the cost of an EPC (Electronic Product Code) retail compliance mandate into a supply chain enhancing investment that will boost your bottom line.
When leading retailers publish their plans for implementing RFID, they roll it out by category and region. The buyer will send a letter informing you when to begin shipping goods with EPC-compliant RFID tags. Depending on the retailer, and your category, you will have a few choices on how to comply. If the rollout is partial, you can begin by tagging merchandise in your DC. Typically this is done at a VAS (Value Added Station). If the quantities of goods to be tagged represent a major portion of your sales, you may choose to have the products tagged at source.
Tag – You're It.
Too often, this is the minimum effort that suppliers expend to meet their retail customer RFID mandates. Operations folks are simply told to tag the goods and ship them to the correct DC. This "slap and ship" mentality is actually quite shortsighted. If you're going to the expense of tagging your merchandise, why not use the technology internally? Why not use it to improve your supply chain processes and improve your profitability? Here are a number of ways we've helped RBO's internally use the RFID tags they are mandated to attach to their products.
Receiving – This is the first place to put those RFID tags to work for you. We are working with a major brand to improve their inbound processes. Currently, they use fixed barcode scanners to decode the GS1-128 barcode for each carton and update purchase order records. The customer assumes that the barcode label applied at source accurately reflects the carton contents. However, scanning the GS1-128 barcode does not confirm whether or not the correct product is in the carton and whether it is short or not. The customer must audit a fair number of cartons to see if in fact the contents match the purchase order to the factory.
Now that the goods are tagged at the source, here's how the customer is taking advantage of RFID technology. Fixed RFID readers read the tags of every single item in the carton. The system compares the ASN (Advance Ship Notice) from the factory and confirms that each carton contains exactly what was ordered. This validation is an audit of every single carton arriving from overseas and it happens in real time without any misreads and without slowing down the receiving line.
Packing – This is the next place to put those RFID tags to work. By adding RFID reading to each pack station, operators do not have to scan each barcode as they pack an order. By validating the carton contents in real time, the customer benefits in two ways: the packing process is faster with the reduction in hand barcode scanning and errors are reduced to zero as operators can be signaled instantly if the wrong item is placed in the carton.
Shipping – Validation is one of RFID's most compelling benefits. Each carton loaded into an outbound trailer passes through an RFID Portal and is checked to confirm it is going on the right truck. In addition, this final validation also acts as a trigger for generating an EPOD (Electronic Proof of Delivery) record.
These three areas alone are just the beginning when it comes to internal benefits with RFID. Once your warehouse is filled with tagged items you can cycle count in a fraction of the time compared to traditional methods. Once the infrastructure is in place, RFID helps brand owners track preproduction samples, job tickets, and raw material bundles. Even showroom sales processes can be quickly and easily enhanced using RFID.
Why reap the benefits from your RFID tagging mandate? By putting RFID to work for your brand, you will reduce the costs of receiving, packing, and shipping goods, and you'll minimize chargebacks with improved order and shipment validation – with EPOD to back up your claims.
Sheldon R. Reich is Chief Solution Architect for CYBRA Corporation, the developer of EdgeMagic RFID Platform Software, and MarkMagic Barcode Label, E-Forms and Report Writing software. Sheldon has significant technical knowledge of Auto ID system design, integration, and troubleshooting on a wide range of platforms and has helped hundreds of companies implement Auto-ID systems since 1989. CYBRA and Jamison RFID, the leading manufacturer of RFID portals, are the RFID Sponsors and will be demonstrating their field-proven retail supply chain hardware and software at the RVCF Annual Fall Conference November 8-11 at the JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa. Sheldon can be reached at email@example.com or 914-963-6600 ext. 209. Learn more about CYBRA and Jamison RFID at: www.cybra.com and www.jamisonrfid.com
CLICK HERE to return to the SEPTEMBER 2015 RVCF LINK