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RFID, AIDC and IoT News: RFID News Round Up for Feb. 27, 2018

 

GS1 UK Study Touts Retail RFID Results; Introduction to Interesting Chinese Company Waltonchain; Tale of Two AIDC Stocks

Feb. 27, 2018
SCDigest Editorial Staff

Our top news selections from the past week in RFID, automated data collection, and the Internet of Things.

New GS1 UK Study Touts Returns from RFID in Retail

Standards group GS1 recently released a bullish report on the use of RFID in retail.

The report featured case studies from 10 retailers in the US and the Uk, which between them have rolled out 1.9 billion tagged items across their store operations.

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Zebra's stock jumped about 25% after it crushed Wall Street's fourth-quarter sales and earnings estimates and guided higher for the current quarter and full year.

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The report suggests retailers could increase sales from item level RFID programs in-store by ensuring they know where items are and getting them in the right place. The sales bump ranged from 1.5% to 5.5%  at the retailers, the report found.

But one retailer, the UK's Marks & Spencer, had a somewhat different take.

 

Richard Jenkins, head of loss prevention and RFID at M&S, said isolating the impact of RFID on sales is tricky.

 

"There's this expectation of flicking on the switch and instantly seeing a massive sales uplift," he said. "But to be able to isolate the bit that RFID has delivered – I don't buy that."

Jenkins said accurate inventory delivered by RFID helps to get the right products to the right place before they go out of season and are marked down. But sales numbers are also impacted by other factors like the weather and buying volume.

With another view is Martin Speed, safety and loss programs manager at retailer River Island. He said the only time where a sales increase was clearly caused by RFID was during the roll out when some stores had the technology and others didn't.

"We could compare and we saw that [the stores with RFID] outperformed the ones without by 3.5% – which was well over our ROI" threshold, he said.

In a very bullish take, Sham Ahmad, stock audit and compliance manager at retailer Jack Wills described how the retailer's roll out was based on improving customer experience. She said that before the deployment, web orders that were fulfilled from stores were being cancelled 25% of the time due to lack of stock visibility.

 

But after introducing RFID, inventory accuracy improved from 59% to 95% in a mere six weeks, bringing on-line order cancellations down to just 5% - with an obviosly big impact on revenue.

 

The group of retailers, which also included Adidas, C&A, Decathlon, LuluLemon, John Lewis, Marco Polo,and Tesco, also said inventory accuracy improved by more than 50%, reaching between 93% and 99% accuracy. Six of the ten companies involved said they were able to reduce their total stockholding between 2% and 13% – while the remaining four companies did not provide any inventory metrics.

 

The study was completed by professor Adrian Beck at the University of Leicester, and supported by GS1 UK. It involved both in-person interviews as well as analysis of data from the retailers.

 

 

Waltonchain Making Big Moves in Supply Chain

Have you heard of Waltonchain?

The Chinese company aims to combine radio-frequency identification technology with the blockchain to eliminate retail counterfeiting and solve other issues connected with the supply chain management.

Waltonchain will provide all-in-one solution for monitoring and tracking of items. The company is named for Charlie Walton, one of the early inventors of RFID technology.

Of course, global supply chains today are complex, with multiple parties involved in the production and movement of goods. Much of the information trail is still manual and/or paper-based, hampering data flow and visibility. It is for that reason that IBM and Maersk have recently formalized a partnership that includes a joint venture to use blockchain technology to automate steps relative to ocean container movements and increase visibility.

Waltonchain's approach is similar, using blockchain to connect all this information without the need for a giant, centralized database. One difference between Waltonchain and the IBM-Maersk approach is Waltonchain's formal embrace of RFID technology to capture supply chain data. What's more, Waltonchain is developing its own tags for the application.


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The Waltonchain project team is planning four growth stages. During phase 1.0 it has already developed the apparel system integration scheme based on RFID. Now the team is developing the RFID tags based on proprietary technology, and leveraging a proprietary asymmetric encryption algorithm.

In phase 2.0 it plan to apply Waltonchain to the apparel, retail and logistics industries.

In phase 3.0 the team plans to apply widely their technology to manufacturing industry. The blockchain technology will be used to keep a standardized and reliable record of the entire manufacturing processes, including material purchasing, production, assembly operation, packaging and inventory management.

In phase 4.0, with the upgrading of hardware and improvement of blockchain data structure, all physical assets will be able to register in Waltonchain.

Ambitious? That's putting it mildly.

Walton chain is also offering its own crypto currency to pay for supply chain transactions.

More on this soon from SCDigest.


Tale of Two AIDC Stocks


We reported a few weeks ago on the stock price collapse of RFID tag and reader leader Impinj.
Its stock had been falling since July of 2017, after having a nice ride up since going public in 2016, going from about $49 per share to $22 at the start of 2018.

But on Feb, 1, the bottom fell out, as Impinj's stock price dropped another $10 a share to just $12 and change – putting it now below the IPO price. That after the company warned its revenue would miss expectations for Q4 2017 by a wide margin, and that its CFO, who had been at Impinj for 17 years, would leave the company.

The stock fell even further, to about $10.45 per share, after formally announcing it Q4 results on Feb. 25. While Impinj CEO Chris Diorio said "We expect to at least maintain end user market share on a full year basis compared to 2017," after some reports it might be losing share to NXP Semiconductors, the company also declined to forecast chip sales for the rest of 2017.

The stock has recently rallied to about $13.75 per sharp – providing a nice return if you were lucky enough to buy at $10.45.

Meanwhile, Impinj rival Zebra Technologies, which really expanded its AIDC footprint with the acquisition of Motorola Solutions and its handheld terminal and scanner businesses a few years ago, is on a Wall Street hit streak.

Zebra's stock jumped about 25% after it crushed Wall Street's fourth-quarter sales and earnings estimates and guided higher for the current quarter and full year. It now trades at about$142 per share, up from $115 in early February.


Zebra earned an adjusted $2.33 a share, up 21% year over year, on sales of $1.03 billion, up 9%, in the December quarter.

For the full year, Zebra expects sales growth of 4% to 7%. Analysts were predicting sales growth of 3.3% to $3.8 billion in 2018.

Zebra CEO Anders Gustafsso said the company is benefiting from a strong economy that's allowing its customers to invest in systems to improve their efficiency and productivity.


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