Is RFID a Good Fit for Apparel Suppliers?

The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) and supply chain standards body GS1 US are sponsoring new research being conducted by the University of Arkansas on the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) in the apparel supply chain. The researchers will seek to measure the benefits that apparel suppliers can achieve through adopting RFID based on Electronic Product Code (EPC) standards. Their plan is to quantify the effects of EPC-based tracking on improving the suppliers’ inventory accuracy, along with the effects on their productivity, costs and revenues.

The research – titled “Supplier Return on Investment Use Case Data Collection and Analysis” – is the second phase in a three-phase study known as the “Many-to-Many study.” It will focus on three supplier use cases identified during Phase I of this research published in January 2011.

“In Phase I of our research, we identified 60 use cases that could benefit from RFID,” says David Cromhout, director of the RFID Research Center Lab at the University of Arkansas. “We know that it is critical for suppliers to be able to quantify both immediate and long-term benefits of RFID-adoption as it expands. In Phase II, we will assess the value of something that has become the primary target for most suppliers; namely, what RFID can do about inventory accuracy, and more specifically, how RFID can assure high accuracy at lower cost.”

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“The apparel supply chain is witnessing a transformation, and item-level tagging using EPC-enabled RFID is at the center of this,” says Patrick Javick, vice president of GS1 US. The technology, he says, has helped some retailers increase inventory accuracy, while decreasing their distribution and labor costs, so the Phase II effort will investigate if suppliers can experience similar benefits.”

Research results for the Phase II University of Arkansas supplier study will be published in January 2012.

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