Levi Strauss Wins Award For Its Innovative RFID Approach

The Levi Strauss clothing company has been awarded the 2016 Apparel and General Merchandise Operational Excellence Award. The accolade, which is given by the GS1 standards organization responsible for EPC and RFID standards, is decided upon by the votes of more than 130 companies that form part of the organization’s Apparel and General Merchandise Initiative.

In 2005, Levi Strauss launched an RFID pilot program that entailed tagging garments for one American customer as well as its retail stores in Mexico. The program took off, and now 12 million items are tagged each year.

Trial and Error

Levi Strauss was one of the very first companies to get on board with the technology for inventory accuracy, and it has learned a lot along the way. The firm first started tagging jeans and pants at distribution centers, but when they realized it was not the most efficient way of doing things, they decided to start using RFID tagging in factories in conjunction with dozens of manufacturing partners. This approach has proven to be more scalable and cost-effective because it can be carried out at the same time as other labeling and tagging on the garments.

In order to get its manufacturing partners on board, Levi Strauss showed them the benefits of using RFID tags and applying EPC standards. In just 18 months, they went from tagging all of their apparel at their distribution centers to tagging around 85 percent of their apparel at the vendors’ manufacturing sites, with plans in the pipeline for further expansion.

These changes have brought about dramatic improvements in productivity and cost savings in the double digits. All of this has been accomplished without inconveniencing the vendors.

Meanwhile, UPS was given the Corporate Social Responsibility Award for its use of GS1 standards to improve electronic links with clients while also reducing its carbon footprint.