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Not Just for Retailers: More Ways RFID Can Benefit Retail Brand Owners

Posted By Administration, Thursday, November 19, 2015
Updated: Saturday, November 14, 2015

by Sheldon R. Reich, CYBRA Corporation

As stated in Not Just for Retailers, sooner or later you'll be supplying RFID-tagged merchandise to your retail customers who are seeing strong benefits with RFID from the DC to the back room and selling floor. Here are more ways that every RBO (Retail Brand Owner) can also benefit from RFID and can turn the cost of an EPC (Electronic Product Code) retail compliance mandate into a supply chain enhancing investment.

At the recent RVCF Fall Conference in Scottsdale, a number of leading retailers and brand owners we met with discussed their plans for implementing RFID. The retailers are adding product categories and rapidly expanding their RFID compliance mandates. In short, it's full speed ahead.

Some brand owners are shipping goods with EPC-compliant RFID tags, but not taking advantage of any of the benefits the technology offers. An even larger number of brand owners came to our booth in the exhibit hall with RFID questions and concerns such as "How do we begin?" and "How do we justify the cost of investing in RFID infrastructure?"

ROI Begins with Reducing Chargebacks
To help customers quantify the ROI (Return on Investment) of RFID, we asked the brand representatives if they would share the size of the chargebacks they are assessed. We were amazed at the costs these brands are shouldering. The chargebacks ranged from tens of thousands of dollars to millions of dollars for the largest brand owners. There are lots of reasons shipments are charged back – merchandising issues, compliance marking errors, etc. – but packing and shipment errors are easily addressed with RFID technology and anything the brand can do to lower the chargebacks directly impacts the bottom line. Just by reducing chargebacks alone, an RFID system will quickly pay for itself.

Start with a Pilot then Scale
If only a portion of your stock needs to be tagged, you can begin by tagging merchandise in your DC. Typically this is done at a VAS (Value Added Station). What is the equipment required? An RFID printer can print and encode EPC labels to affix to those products shipping to the mandating customer. Add a mobile computer with RFID and you can start to take advantage of such labor savers as RFID cycle counting and RFID pack and ship validation. This will give you a taste of the benefits of RFID. As you tag more and more merchandise an investment in fixed RFID infrastructure such as dock door portals and RFID-enabled MHE (Material Handling Equipment) will give you even more bang for the buck. As you roll out more RFID enabled processes, the investment made to comply with your customer mandates will immediately begin to reduce chargebacks, and lower labor costs as you process more shipments with more accuracy in less time.

The Big Four
As noted in our September article, there are four areas that RFID will give you the greatest impact. Here's how we've helped brand owners use RFID to reduce their supply chain costs:

Receiving – For one customer whose goods are tagged at source, fixed RFID readers on inbound conveyors read the tags of every single item in the carton. The system compares the ASN (Advanced 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.

Cycle Counting – There's no need to shut the DC for a few days to conduct physical inventory. A small team armed with mobile RFID readers can count inventory in a fraction of the time compared to traditional barcode based methods. Because it is easier and faster to count, you can cycle count more often with greater accuracy.

Packing – By adding fixed RFID readers at each pack station, orders are validated in real time, the packing process is faster with the reduction in product handling and 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 – By investing in RFID portals at outbound dock doors, you can validate each carton loaded into an outbound trailer and confirm it is going on the right truck. RFID validation can automatically "close" a shipment and act as a trigger for generating an EPOD (Electronic Proof of Delivery) record.

By investing in robust RFID software and infrastructure additional benefits can be reaped. For example, we are helping brand owners track preproduction samples and molds, job tickets and employee applications, reusable pallets and trolleys, and IT assets. Once installed, you'll find dozens of processes that can be quickly and easily enhanced using RFID.

By putting RFID to work inside your four walls, you will reduce the costs of receiving, counting, packing, and shipping goods, and you will be able to pay for the RFID investment with a major reduction in chargebacks.

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 or 914-963-6600 ext. 209. Learn more about CYBRA and Jamison RFID at: and

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Tags:  Audit  Item Level Tagging  Order Accuracy  RFID 

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Why You Need to Get Up to Speed on RFID Right Now

Posted By Administration, Thursday, October 9, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, October 7, 2014


If you browse through the agenda of the RVCF Annual Fall Conference, you'll find radio frequency identification (RFID) virtually everywhere. That's because the business case for item-level RFID is so powerful for both suppliers and retailers, from maximizing operational efficiency throughout the supply chain to delivering the best possible customer experience.

Inventory accuracy and the speed of cycle counts have been at the core of that business case and with good reason. University of Arkansas researchers found that physical inventory counts were just 64 percent accurate on average. That number jumped to 95 percent after deploying item-level RFID, while labor costs dropped considerably.

Traditionally, most stores would take physical inventory counts once or twice per year, so the data being used to track inventory was six months to a year old. This is ancient in today's retail environment. RFID enables daily inventory counts that take minutes with handheld scanners. If fixed readers are installed, the process can be done automatically with a push of a button. Because standards have stabilized in recent years, technology vendors have introduced more sophisticated readers that allow their customers to take almost continuous inventory.

The Key to Omni-Channel Retailing
Accurate, up-to-date inventory data and real time visibility into that data are absolutely essential to ensuring that you have the right product for sale at the right place at the right time. Industry leaders agree that RFID is a foundational component of an omni-channel retail strategy, which provides customers with a seamless shopping experience across all shopping channels.

For example, customers often have the option to order products online and pick up at the store. If a woman orders a size 12 pink angora sweater online and is told the sweater can be picked up at a specific store, that sweater better be there when the customer stops by to pick it up an hour later. Only item-level RFID can provide the visibility and reliable data required to offer such services without increasing labor costs.

Without RFID, time and resources are wasted trying to find merchandise, which contributes to a negative customer experience. Suppose a customer asks for a certain pair of shoes. The inventory system says they're out of stock, but you eventually find them buried under a pile of sweaters in the changing room. If a product isn't available for sale, you'll be forced to mark it down, which starts to affect your bottom line. Inventory accuracy for replenishment products solves the out of stock issue.

The goal is to sell merchandise within the first few weeks at full price, especially when that merchandise can go out of style or out of season almost as quickly. Merchandise can't sell if it isn't on the sales floor. RFID can tell you if a product is selling at one store but not selling at another. This allows you to get that product into a customer's hands by moving it to the store where the product is selling.

Use Cases Go Far Beyond In-Store Inventory
Suppliers are using item-level RFID to ensure accuracy with inbound and outbound shipments. When products from overseas arrive at the warehouse, RFID answers a number of important questions. What is on the truck? What is in each of the boxes? Are these the right products? Did someone try to introduce counterfeit goods? RFID is a valuable authentication tool, especially for luxury brands that constantly have to deal with the threat of knockoffs.

For outbound shipments, if a supplier doesn't deliver the right products in the proper quantities, compliance losses can be substantial. RFID helps suppliers and retailers build stronger relationships because both sides can verify shipment accuracy using the same data based on a common language – GS1 standards. This speeds the reconciliation process and allows suppliers to be paid more quickly. When you have unique identifiers at the item level, you have more granular data that accelerates the problem-solving process.

As RFID becomes part of regular operating procedures and you get more comfortable with the technology, you learn new use cases and extract more value from your investments. Because you've already built the infrastructure and data collection processes, it's simply a matter of learning to leverage that data in different ways.

For example, one use case for RFID that is picking up steam is sample tracking. As part of the sales cycle, a brand's merchandisers will bring samples to their retail partners. The marketing team may also use these samples for photo shoots. All samples are typically stored in a room at the brand owner's facility. To make sure all of these samples are returned to the sample room, brands are using item-level RFID to track sample inventory for themselves and minimize the risk of knockoffs.

The Time Is Now
As the business case for RFID continues to grow, more and more retailers are having discussions with suppliers to find out how close they are to deploying RFID at the item level. If you're a supplier in the apparel sector and haven't received requests to begin item-level RFID tagging, you should probably expect to receive them within the next two years.

Even if you're not ready to deploy RFID or begin a pilot project, it is important to start gathering information now. We strongly encourage you to take advantage of the wealth of RFID-related information that will be available at the RVCF Annual Fall Conference:

  • The complimentary GS1 US RFID Adoption Workshop will offer hands-on, step-by-step guidance on what is required to successfully deploy item-level RFID, from building a business case to understanding technical considerations.
  • Dr. Bill Hardgrave, Dean and Wells Fargo Professor, Harbert College of Business, Auburn University and founder of the RFID Research Center, will lead "Retailers Only" and "Suppliers Only" sessions about the current state of RFID.
  • Paul Arguin, Senior Director, RFID Development, r-pac International, will lead a number of 101- and 201-level sessions designed to help retailers and suppliers build a strong informational foundation for RFID.

Register for the RVCF Annual Fall Conference here.

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Tags:  Item Level Tagging  RFID 

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