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Joint effort for Level RFID Initiative will first focus on apparel category
Nov '10
A group of leading retailers, manufacturers, suppliers, industry associations, technology providers and academia today introduced a broad-based initiative to guide the adoption of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology in retail. The initial focus of the Item Level RFID Initiative will be within the apparel sector.

• Group will determine case for creating a more visible, efficient supply chain using standardized radio frequency identification (RFID) technology
• Companies collaborate to study, evaluate and create a framework for action
• Voluntary Interindustry Commerce Solutions (VICS), GS1 US and GS1 Canada are facilitating group's efforts

“This initiative could change the way the retail industry does business – and could lead to the biggest supply-chain transformation since the introduction of the bar code,” said Joseph Andraski, president & CEO, Voluntary Interindustry Commerce Solutions (VICS), who along with the standards organizations GS1 US and GS1 Canada, are guiding the initiative.

Members of the Item Level RFID Initiative will create a strategy and a framework for industry engagement, education, adoption and responsible use of existing Electronic Product Code (EPC)-enabled RFID technology. They believe it will foster innovation, improve business efficiencies, and lead to a better consumer shopping experience.

“It's all about speed-to-market today, especially in the apparel and footwear industry with its seasonality and trends,” says Cynthia DiPietrantonio, chief operations officer, The Jones Group. “Having real-time, accurate inventory views means that suppliers and retailers can provide customers with the right products in the right stores and at the right time,” she added.

“We believe it is time for the industry to come together to advance the use of this technology throughout the retail supply chain,” said Peter Longo, president of Macy's Logistics & Operations. “We are excited about the business improvement and customer satisfaction opportunities that this industry-led initiative affords us.”

Item level RFID technology is moving from pilots to deployments at the retail level and throughout the supply chain. According to research done by the University of Arkansas, the technology has delivered compelling benefits to the retail industry and the results are clear:

• inventory accuracy rates of more than 95%, up from an average of 62%
• ability to count 5,000 items per hour using RFID vs. 200 items per hour
using barcodes – a time savings of 96%
• out-of-stock reductions of up to 50%, leading to improved customer
satisfaction and sales increases
• improved security and coordination throughout the supply chain

"For perhaps the first time in retail history, retailers can fulfill the promise of getting the right product to the right store at the right time for their customers," said Professor Bill C. Hardgrave, founder of the RFID Research Center at the University of Arkansas and dean of Auburn University's College of Business. “This is thanks to standardized RFID technology and the high level of inventory accuracy it brings.”

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