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Complying with Retailer Source Tagging Mandates

Apr 11, 2022
TOPIC: Technology
2 min read
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First Walmart. Then Nordstrom’s. Who’s next in the retail apparel industry and when will the domino effect then take over?

These questions are common throughout the RFID industry in relation to the recent mandates by the two Fortune 500 companies and the RFID source tagging by their suppliers.

While RFID is certainly not a new technology, it is still one that is relatively newer compared to the mature and established global industry GS1 standard barcode. Despite being much junior compared to the barcode, UHF Passive RFID otherwise known as RAIN, has continued to penetrate the retail apparel industry. RAIN has certainly seen an escalated adoption rate over the last 2 years, enabling retailers to have the greatest inventory visibility which is critical to the consumers’ experience and to a retailers omni-channel fulfillment and digital growth strategies. To extend on this, global retailers have found RAIN to be so crucial to their in-store operations that mandates are being put in place to have their suppliers now source tag their products with RAIN labels. By doing so, retailers will continue to streamline their in-store operations, ensure the highest inventory accuracies and support their global sales and omni-channel strategies. 

How to comply with the RFID mandate: 

To comply with the RFID source tagging mandate, there are 2 ways that a supplier can bring on the addition of RFID within their production operations.

The first option is that a producer can take ownership of the printing and encoding of the RAIN-enabled labels in-house. In doing so, the producer has the necessary RFID infrastructure within their facility to print and encode the RAIN labels. Some benefits (and not limited to) which this approach brings is that the producer directly manages the encoding sequence of the EPC value within the RAIN label as well as having lower label costs since there is not a 3rd party service bureau involved. However, the producer must now take on additional infrastructure costs, such as RFID printers, to print and encode the RAIN labels.

The second option, and possibly the simpler way, is to procure the pre-printed and pre-encoded RAIN labels from a service bureau as referenced above. The benefit here is that the producer does not need to bring any RFID infrastructure in-house to support the print and encoding of the RAIN labels. However, the producer now loses control of the EPC encoding sequence and will have to pay the additional cost of the service bureau to print and encode.    

When is it going to happen?!

There is no really easy way to say it… a lot must happen and quickly! Mandates from retailers such as Walmart have a very condensed timeline to comply. The public announcement of the mandate came out in mid-Q1 of 2022 and those products which were identified as part of the mandate must arrive RFID enabled at the Walmart stores by September 2022. To further complicate matters, the RFID industry is working through a global silicone and chip shortage, which is an intricate piece of the RAIN labels. Lead times for these various RAIN labels can extend out to several months, so there is a need to act fast!

Barcoding can help:

The pressure is on, and Barcoding is here to help! We have deep industry expertise in supply chain & logistics applications while utilizing IoT technologies such as RFID. Our Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) have the expertise to determine not only what the appropriate RAIN label for your product(s) and needs are, but also how to physically apply it. We also encode, manage, and leverage that data while incorporating a solution that may provide your organization with the internal benefits of streamlining your operations.

Read Our Whitepaper Here!

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