The fashion industry was one of the first retail sales sectors to adopt RFID technology
In recent years, mainly in the USA and Europe, dozens of fashion retailers like Marks & Spencer, Levi’s, Throttleman, American Apparel, Le Coq Sportif, Karstadt, Dillards and Galeria Kaufhof have implemented RFID product identification projects to improve their supply chain processes and retail outlet operations. Some of these initiatives – all of which began with a pilot project – have been followed up with operational roll-out involving several million tagged items.
For such an industry, experiencing seasonal peaks and handling large volumes of goods, the use of RFID tags in the supply chain offers significant advantages:
- A major improvement in inventory accuracy and speed, resulting in better supply management, greater on-shelf availability and therefore more sales.
A clear illustration of the advantages of RFID is that it enables bulk, ‘on-the-fly’ reading, thereby cutting inventory times by 90% and, at the same time, substantially improving inventory accuracy, as RFID leaves little room for human error and information on the style, size and color of an article can all be stored on the tag.
- Unprecedented fashion logistics productivity gains can be achieved thanks to improved reception, shipment and inventory processes in manufacturing factories, distribution centers and stores.
The simultaneous, contactless and ‘on-the-fly’ reading of hanging articles and articles folded into boxes radically reduces the time spent counting and controlling articles during reception and shipment operations. Because it takes only a few seconds to identify all the articles on a pallet, a rack or in a parcel, our customers are spending 12 times less time checking their goods.
It should also be pointed out that textile products are particularly suited for the use of radio-frequency, as clothing material has very little impact on the waves.
A Solution Fit for the RFID Tracking of Fashion Items
RFID allows you to monitor the supply chain at two levels: logistics unit flows and item flows. IdItem is an item tracking and identification solution. It is a comprehensive solution, enabling you to identify and track products during processing and transit, i.e. in production centers, distribution warehouses and storerooms, and during the shipment, reception and/or inventory processes implemented in storage areas, stock-rooms and/or sales areas.
IdItem is not just a ‘hardware’ package. It is a global solution that takes into account all the hardware, software and service components of the RFID project. An IdItem solution implements many elements driven by Neopost Shipping: the RFID infrastructure for data capture, management applications processing RFID readings, data exchange interfaces between the RFID system and your information system, software managing the RFID hardware, and reporting tools delivering information on the RFID readings.
Depending on your needs, the RFID infrastructure used in the IdItem solution may include various devices implemented and operated by Neopost Shipping: fixed portal-type readers, reading tunnels, inventory readers, mobile terminal or paddle-type readers, tag reading and/or encoding terminals, tag printers, and fixed device control peripherals managing RFID data traffic and readers.
RFID Systems Designed for Textile Item Tracking
The various projects implemented by Neopost Shipping on behalf of major players in the clothing, distribution and fashion logistics industries have led to the development of specific RFID solutions for the contactless reading of hanging and folded articles.
For sales areas (depending on the layout of the shop) we offer an ‘inventory trolley’ solution enabling users to count articles simply by moving around the store. We have also developed a ‘fitting room’ solution to track the flow of articles tried on by customers.
For logistics centers, we offer a motorized reader tunnel capable of reading up to 150 articles in a box in just a few seconds. We also have a fixed reader for hanging clothes. For work stations, various counting table prototypes have been developed. Finally, for other configurations, we also offer a solution based on a mobile terminal or ‘paddle’ reader, for example, identifying articles stored in containers or small spaces.
A Solution Based on the EPCglobal® Standard
EPCglobal® is an RFID industry standard for traceability in the Supply Chain. It has all the benefits of a standard: interoperability, free choice of equipment (an EPC tag can be read by various EPC-compatible devices and can be replaced by another, more recent and more efficient EPC tag with no impact on the infrastructure), and shared traceability thanks to the ONS (Object Name Service) concept, which provides access to information on a given object, stored in several databases.
Neopost Shipping has always favored the EPCglobal® standard. Besides its in-depth experience with the tag-encoding and reading standard, Neopost Shipping has an expert knowledge of EPC-IS databases. We set up one of the first Oracle EPC-IS databases in France, for the DHL/Metro project. This database is managed and hosted on Neopost Shipping’s servers.
At present, if your project specificities allow to it, EPCglobal® is the obvious choice. Neopost Shipping’s expertise will be of great help in your EPCglobal® implementation.
A Bundled Solution Based on a Service Contract
IdItem is a bundled ‘Managed Services’ solution including all the components required by the project:
- The hardware suite in the RFID infrastructure
- The inherent software and interfaces
- On-site implementation and maintenance services
- RFID and EPC-IS data management and hosting
This service-oriented approach enables you to implement your solution with little or no investment. It also means that you will not need to invest in your own technical resources. Finally, it is the perfect way of keeping costs in line with the size of the solution.
In order to determine the overall project requirements, define methods of optimization and estimate your return on investment, we will run a complete analysis of your environment. This includes understanding your processes, running site audits to capture the project’s physical environment, studying your entire vehicle fleet to select the most adapted RFID solution - and adjust it when necessary, analyzing the data flows to be managed for a tailored solution, and determining your exact functional requirements so you can fully benefit from the collected RFID data.