Apparel, general merchandise manufacturers and retailers are using item level Electronic Product Code (EPC)-enabled radio frequency identification (RFID) to enhance inventory visibility, according to the new 2014 GS1 US Standards Usage Survey.
They are also using the tracking technique to respond to consumer demands for omni-channel options.
The survey found that nearly half (48.2%) of the manufacturers surveyed are currently implementing RFID, and another 21.1% planned to implement RFID within the next 12 months. Additionally, 18.4% planned to implement RFID over the next 13-24 months. Respondents reported that 40% of items made by apparel and general merchandise manufacturers have RFID tags.
Of the retailers surveyed, more than half (57%) reported that they are currently implementing RFID, and another 19.3% planned to implement RFID within the next 12 months. Additionally, 10.5% planned to implement RFID in 13-24 months. Respondents reported that on average 47% of items received by apparel and general merchandise retailers have RFID tags.
“These findings confirm that the retail industry is nearing an RFID adoption and usage tipping point,” said Dr. Bill Hardgrave, dean of the Harbert College of Business and founder of the RFID Lab, Auburn University. “RFID is no longer just something proven in concept—it is providing tangible results for manufacturers and retailers, and provides the inventory accuracy that omni-channel retailing demands.”
The survey measured the usage of EPC-enabled item level RFID by both manufacturers and retailers (including manufacturers who are also retailers). For manufacturers, RFID has been proven to offer multiple benefits, including reinforcing authenticity, decreasing inspection costs, reducing shrinkage and enhancing logistics accuracy. For retailers, RFID provides greater than 95% inventory accuracy, improved sales, decreased out-of-stocks, increased margins and expedited returns, according to Auburn University research.
“As industry collaboration and discussion grows, it will be difficult for companies to ignore RFID’s role as a critical enabler of inventory visibility and the seamless customer experience,” said Melanie Nuce, vice president of apparel and general merchandise, GS1 US.