RFID and Automatic Identification Focus: Our Weekly Feature Article on Topics of Interest to those Using or Considering RFID or other Auto ID Technologies  
  - January 20, 2010 -  


Auto ID and RFID News: Americal Apparel to Test Combined EAS and RFID Tracking Tag



Retail Chain Joins Germany's Metro Stores in Piloting the Approach; Can this be a Real Catylyst for Adoption?

  SCDigest Editorial Staff  


SCDigest Says:

In the RFID/EAS vision, store management would know immediately down to the serial number what items and quantities were taken..

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Late last year, SCDigest reported on a new guideline from GS1 EPCglobal on the potential to combine traditional Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) functionality within an EPC RFID tag. (See Will Combining Tracking and Theft Protection in One Tag Drive RFID More Aggressively into the Consumer Goods-to-Retail Value Chain?)

Under this strategy, the functionality of traditional EAS tags to reduce theft would be added to an EPC tag. This could be appealing for several reasons. First, many retail suppliers already "source tag" EAS tags, meaning there should not be much change in process or additional labor costs for attaching an RFID tag instead.

While some EAS tags are extremely inexpensive, whatever the current EAS costs are would be partially offset by the incremental costs of the more expensive EPC tags.

Manufacturers and retailers would both benefit from the improved tracking and process automation available by using the EPC tag for supply chain movements, in-store cycle counting, etc.

Additionally, use of EPC for EAS would have new benefits regarding theft prevention.

When a consumer leaves the store, an RFID reader array/portal would query the tags, and verify that all the items have, in fact, been purchased (the tags read at POS during the transaction process). If a shoplifter tried to leave the store, the store system would recognize that there were one or more “unsold” items being taken out, and sound an alarm similar to current EAS systems.

This could provide the retailer addiitonal intelligence. For example, if a shoplifter simply runs through the EAS portal currently, all that a retailer knows is that goods have been stolen. What products and how many are not known.

In the RFID/EAS vision, store management would know immediately down to the serial number what items and quantities were taken.


(RFID and Automatic Identification Article - Continued Below)





At the time of the GSI release of the guidelines, Germany's Metro Stores group announced it would be piloting the dual purpose tags.

Now, the US' American Apparel stores group, arguably the US retail leader in deploying RFID technology, has announced it will be conducting a similar pilot in six of its Florida stores. The chain has 280 outlets in total.

The chain has deployed traditional EPC RFID technology at 10 of its existing stores. Because American Apparel is vertically integrated, it does not have to deal with a contentious supplier base that might resist the cost of tagging and slow an RFID program roll-out.

Notes SCDigest editor Dan Gilmore: "The value case for item-level tagging in apparel retail seems to keep getting stronger. The fact that American Apparel is doing this on its own dime, not that of its suppliers, says that it must see real ROI from the investment."

What is your perspective on a combined EAS/RFID tag for retail? Could it be an important catalyst in moving RFID adoption forward? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback button below.

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