Tag Archives: Retail

RFID Growing Too Big for Its Britches?

RFID Growth Spurt Leads to Tech Shortages.

We’ve been talking about the growth and ROI benefits of item-level RFID, particularly in retail. 

Supply Chain Digest reports that WalMart’s new apparel tagging program has helped lead to a supply drop in RFID EPC Gen 2 inlays, and that mobile RFID readers are now also in short supply. Why so? Lots of investment in RFID initiatives, including WalMart’s recent order for 20,000 Motorola mobile RFID readers, combined with “supply constraints that have lasted for months in basic electrical components that have cause delivery problems in a wide number of high tech gear, including mobile devices.”     

In fact, Supply Chain Digest says that analysts at a major financial investment firm are predicting 300 percent market growth in RFID asset management for 2011.

Do you expect to join that growth, and invest in RFID for asset management and inventory visibility in the next year?

Read the Supply Chain Digest article.

See more about RFID printing/encoding here, where you can find resources such as our white paper “Traceability in Retail—Reducing RFID Media Costs for Best Value.”

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Bar Codes Tread New Tracking Ground

Running shoe company Brooks Sports is treading on new ground in mobile marketing. This month they launched a cool new mobile campaign to promote the new Ghost 3 running shoe. The campaign includes direct mail, interactive barcodes and a sweepstakes.

It should be no surprise that the barcode inclusion caught our eye. Brooks tapped Jagtag, an interactive barcode maker as well as the marketing agency of Marden Kane and retailer Finish Line to pull together a complete end-to-end promotion.

The 2-D barcodes will appear on direct mail sent out to a database of 10,000 Finish Line customers as well as the shirts worn by the retailer’s sales associates. Customers or even visitors who e-mail photos of the barcode will be entered to win prizes but the real purpose is to help engage current and potential customers as well as get better tracking on the direct mail campaign by measuring the video views and visitors to finishline.com.

Better tracking. Now we’re talking.

The campaign is not only a cool example of a new way to use barcode for tracking, but it is also a great way to use tracking technology to lead customers to more information. From do-it-yourself stores, full feature kiosks to self-checkout lanes, it seems like a new self service option appear every week. And with the proliferation of smartphone use, it seems like a perfect opportunity to provide deeper product information or customized  multimedia to shoppers while they are engaged with brands. User reviews, short videos and even product configurators can be instantly accessed with the camera scan of a barcode.

Click here for a basic overview of barcodes.

How RFID Tags and QR Codes Can Speak Volumes About Resale Items’ History

We’ve explored both the use of apparel RFID tagging in retail, and the potential for QR codes. Now we’ve discovered a new use for both! Seems a charity shop in U.K. uses the two technologies to attach a personal story about each piece of clothing as told by the clothing’s donator. Shop visitors can listen to the audio clips via the shop’s RFID readers and audio speakers, or by reading the QR codes via their smart phones. The stories help enhance the value and appeal of the items for potential buyers. Thanks to RetailWire.com for pointing us to the article.

Do you see a place for such a concept in other retail applications?

For more on RFID in retail, check out this white paper: Traceability in Retail—Reducing RFID Media Costs for Best Value.

Click here to learn more about RFID printing/encoding in general.

How Efficient is Your DSD?

Over 4,000 industry professionals are expected to attend Canada’s National Bakery Showcase 2010 in Toronto next week. Aside from the latest in proof & bake ovens and thaw & serve products, baking and baking supply companies of all types and sizes will be looking for ways mobility technology can deliver better efficiency to their enterprise. The impact is especially strong for route accounting organizations, where mobile workers frequently interact with customers. Fact is, accuracy and productivity lead to profitability in direct store deliv­ery (DSD) and route accounting operations.

In the grocery channel alone, DSD represents 24 percent of unit sales and 52 percent of retail profits1. Revenue and cash flow improve measurably if DSD sales representatives make just one more stop per day. Reducing invoice and inventory errors also reduces operating expenses by saving time for mobile and admin­istrative staff, and by improving inventory availability. Some of the challenges for the industry include:

• There are discrepancies on 10.5 percent of DSD invoices issued to small-format retailers, and 15.4 percent to supermarkets and other large-format stores.

• The average out-of-stock rate for DSD items is 7.4 percent, but jumps to 13.1 percent for promotional items.

• Out-of-stocks result in $6 billion in lost sales annually.

• The average supermarket can reduce DSD out-of-stocks by 2.9 percent and increase annual revenue by $75,000.

• Automated check-in processes can reduce DSD receiving time by 60 percent.

• Efficient DSD suppliers spend 13.8 fewer minutes for each delivery to large-format stores and spend nearly twice as much time on merchandising than inefficient suppliers.

Automating DSD operations is a proven practice to help solve these problems and gain the ensuing produc­tivity and profitability benefits. Mobile computing applications can help prevent order-entry errors and assist DSD staff in managing inventory more accurately and efficiently. Many companies are using batch handheld computers and DEX connectivity, but in today’s world, this is not enough to provide sustainable operational and competitive advantages.

You can see the Zebra white paper on improving DSD and route account effectiveness here.

Zebra will jointly exhibit at this event with Motorola displaying a wide variety of solutions to optimize bakery process efficiency in production, operations, and product delivery.  At this event, the two companies will be exhibiting mobile technology solutions to support the market’s direct store delivery and other related activities.

If you are at the show, stop by booth #’s 1011 and 1013 to see the Zebra and Motorola joint solutions.

RFID Starting to Make Retail Cents

Apparel News published a piece this week on RIFD in retail. The article discusses Wal-Mart’s use of RFID to track pallets and cases coming into its warehouses. Those early uses of the technology in a retail supply chain are credited with the deployment of RFID applications from the back of the store to the shop floor. Major retailers have begun to spend more budget dollars on RIFD to improve such things as supply chain management, inventory control which the article states can lead to greater inventory accuracy and increased sales. You can read the article here.

Tag cost is by far the biggest expense of an apparel RFID project – much more than readers, printers, and software.  Tags are applied are various points depending on the retailer: in-store, at a DC, or at the point of manufacture. But regardless of the location, encoding accuracy is critical because if the tag data is wrong, the item doesn’t exist.

Item-level RFID is an enabler of perfect inventory accuracy.  Perfect inventory accuracy drives the business change, but the benefit is very different for each type of retailer. Labor savings is often the first benefit identified, but that ROI is small compared to other areas: reduced out of stocks, reduced inventory, increase in sales, better timed promotional execution.

The bottom line is that the ROI’s are very compelling at current tag prices but those prices will probably not be falling much lower.

Click here for more RFID resource information.