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Walmart Working With Suppliers to Use RFID Tags on Men’s Jeans, Basics

July 29, 2010

In an effort to improve inventory accuracy and on-shelf availability, Walmart has reinvigorated its EPC radio frequency identification (RFID) program, this time focusing on specific men’s apparel (jeans, socks, undershirts and underwear).

Walmart has been working with suppliers of denim products and men’s basics for the past eight months to develop a process that enables suppliers to tag goods at the point of manufacture. That way, the suppliers can benefit from the program, as well, according to RFID Journal.

Once the apparel items are tagged, Walmart can use the RFID technology to get information at any one of a number of different destinations: at the loading dock, in the stock room, and on the sales floor, e.g. Pilots with this system show it improves inventory accuracy and on-shelf availability,  Myron Burke, Walmart’s director of store innovation and the person leading the retailer’s EPC program in the United States, said in the article.

In fact, an earlier study from the University of Arkansas’ RFID Research Center indicated that RFID can improve inventory accuracy from 65 percent to better than 95 percent.

As I posted last week, the apparel industry is becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of accurate forecasting. Is there a role for RFID technology in these new “green” supply chain initiatives? Can RFID help apparel manufacturers and retailers increase efficiencies, limit waste, reduce GHG emissions and meet other CSR goals?

As this Walmart example illustrates, there seems to be growing interest in item-level RFID adoption, in particular.

“Retailers are looking to solve the number one complaint of shoppers ‘You don’t have this item in my size or my color,’ and to improve their overall inventory productivity,” says Shawn Neville, group vice president, Avery Dennison Retail Information Services. “Item-level RFID tagging systems provide retailers with improved inventory visibility, accuracy, loss prevention and operational efficiency, and an improved shopping experience for their consumers.”

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