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Retail apparel: disposable tags or reuseable?

Retail apparel tagging continues to explode as tag prices edge lower and retailers unearth clear paths to faster return on investment from deploying the technology.

As with any technology, RFID will continue to evolve as the technology matures. For now, the industry has embraced single use UHF tags because of the price advantage. According to one industry source, raw UHF inlays are available for as low as 6.9 cents at volume. That pricing could drop to below 5 cents with some of the Asian manufacturers coming on board later in the year, which would put the price of a finished tag in the range of 7-8 cents at large volumes.

A hard, or re-useable, RFID tag.

However, the industry has another option, that being hard, or reuseable tags, similar to the current EAS tags carried on many products. Some industry analysts think that hard tags will emerge as a strong solution as security functions converge with the supply chain and product visibility benefits now offered by single-use tags.

Peter Perecz, head of sales and marketing at QID Solutions Ltd, has penned an interesting blog piece for the Nordic ID RFID Arena blog about the pros and cons when it comes to tag choices for apparel.

An excerpt from the blog:

Single use tags are usually low cost RFID inlays, which are converted to hang tags for the article and then as the item is sold the tag is lost. The reusable tags represent couple of times higher purchase price and are but then re-circulated. However, the benefit of the re-use considerably decreases the total cost of ownership.

The logistics of returning the tags into use can cause some headaches without a properly planned and supported supply chain and data management flow. Once this has been solved there is no need to be worried about privacy issues as oppose to the disposable ones, which needs to be killed, deactivated at the point of sales. POS is a critical area for managing the returnable ones from a different perspective – this is the point where the system needs to recognize that the RFID code is no longer associated with an item, and then it can be released in the back end system for a new round and tags also need to be physically returned to the starting point of the process.

Click here to view Peter’s blog post in its entirety.

Click here to read about RFID 24-7′s prior coverage of apparel RFID.

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