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Focus: RFID and Automated Identification and Data Collection (AIDC)

Feature Article from Our RFID and AIDC Subject Area - See All

From SCDigest's OnTarget e-Magazine

Nov. 2 , 2011

RFID and AIDC News: Do JCPenney, Macy's Announcements Mean RFID to Finally Really Takeoff in Retail?


Penney's Says it has Item-Level RFID Live in all 1100 of its Stores, Surprising Many; Macy's has Aggressive Program Moving Forward, Joining Walmart


SCDigest Editorial Staff


A somewhat off the cuff remark by a JC Penney executive last week announcing that the retailer has already rollout a item-level RFID tagging program to its 1100 stores across three product categories has some wondering recent moves at last be the catalyst for RFID in the consumer goods to retail industry to finally take off.

SCDigest Says:


After many fits and stops, the RFI train in retail may at last be finally leaving the station - and in the end may just provide the foundation for case level tagging to make a resurgence once this infrastructure is put into place.

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The great expectations for RFID in consumer goods to retail that followed the initial work of the Auto ID Labs at MIT and then the 2003 announcement of Walmart's case tagging "mandate" soon led to disillusion, as Walmart's program never reach expectations, then stagnated, and finally ended all together.

Despite the failure of that program, many noted the publicity clearly spurred RFID developments in other areas, and drove investment that dramatically moved RFID technology forward, even if much of that investment resulted in little return to date.

In the last couple of years, however, buoyed by a series of pilot programs and research studies, item-level tagging of apparel goods had seemed poised to breathe new life into RFID in consumer goods to retail.

Walmart jumped back into the fray, with a 2010 announcement that it would rollout item-level RFID for jeans and underwear to 3300 US stores. That initiative has successfully moved forward, and our sources tell us Walmart has moved forward with tagging requirements for three other categories (women's intimates, tires, and some consumer electronics) starting in Q1 2012. Noteworthy is that two of those are non-apparel items.

Even earlier, specialty retailer American Apparel had announced it was rolling out an item-level RFID program across its store network, a program currently in progress and perhaps facilitated by the fact that all its merchandise is private label.

But the pace of these rollouts and industry adoption overall has been somewhat slower than many hoped for.

A Macy's executive, for example, said earlier this year that at that point was holding back on its program until more retailers got involved and better industry standards were developed for how item-level tagging would work for vendors. (See Is Item-Level Apparel Tagging Going Strong, Fading, or Just Catching Its Breath? WalMart Expanding Categories to Non-Apparel).

Expected initiatives at Dillard's and Gap have also been slow to materialize.

However, in late September Macy's reversed that stance, and announced a program it that would have RFID capabilities in place in all 850 of its Macy's and Bloomingdale's stores by the end of the third quarter of 2012 - an aggressive agenda indeed.

(RFID and AIDC Story Continued Below)




Then last week came the largely off the cuff comment at an industry forum from Frank Cassara, vice president of operations for JCPenney, that the retailer has quietly rolled out RFID in three categories at all 1100 of its US stores. Most had though Penney's was only in pilot mode with a much smaller number of stores. Cassara added that he hoped to have 100% item coverage within four years.

Sources tell us there is a lot of activity behind the scenes.

One source told SCDigest, for example, that Gap stores is planning a 100-store item-level pilot soon.

Another industry vendor said he expects to see RFPs for in-store systems from another half dozen or so retailers in the first half of 2012 - and maybe more.

And so, after many fits and stops, the RFI train in retail may at last be finally leaving the station - and in the end may just provide the foundation for case level tagging to make a resurgence once this infrastructure is put into place.

Do you think the item-level apparel tagging programs are at last set to really take off? Will this have an impact in the end on the original consumer goods to retail programs and vision ? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback button below.

Recent Feedback

The train is leaving the station, or as a retail exec said at the RFID Forum you refer to, "it has already left the station." Look for a lot of announcements early in 2012. I was at the meeting. Read my coverage at

John Johnson
RFID 24-7
Nov, 03 2011

Item-level apparel tagging programs have already taken off, with many pilots and programs flying under the radar for competitive reasons. In the beginning the upsurge in item-level tagging will have an impact. Many programs in the field today are working off of inaccurate and limited data. RFID will not only 'clean up' the data making the programs more effective, but will also create new opportunities with improved visibility to clear the 'vision' for the future of retail. The globalization of the supply chain has provided many new and less expensivie methods for manufacturing goods, however the complexity has increased tenfold. RFID will provide Quality Assurances to protect both retailers and buyers, and will streamline communication and the ever tightening regulations.

Zander Livingstong
Truecount Corporation
Nov, 10 2011

I think the item-level apparel tagging programs will take off and I hope the impact is great.

Lee worley
Customer servise associate
JC penney
Feb, 14 2012