With an eye on helping retailers to maximize the benefits of RFID, GS1 US has released a new guideline called the “Tagged Item Performance Protocol” (TIPP) to help users to consistently define, test and verify the performance level of EPC-enabled RFID tags.
Developed by retailers, suppliers and technology solution providers, TIPP offers a standardized system to benchmark the performance of RFID-tagged items in multiple environments. Enhanced tagged-item performance enables retailers to maximize the benefits of RFID, including greater inventory accuracy, improved point-of-sale, decreased out-of-stocks, improved loss detection, more efficient stock conversion reporting, increased full price sales and expedited returns.
TIPP comprises three components that provide an industry-scalable solution for defining tagged-item performance: tagged-item grade definitions, testing procedures and a product catalogue that defines the RFID tag orientation and layout of common retail items.
“The reach of RFID is far beyond just inventory control. It is just the starting point,” says Jay Craft, vice president of product development for VF Jeanswear, VF Corp.
“RFID’s ability to help provide visibility—throughout the whole supply chain through to the retail point-of-purchase—to create value for the consumer, has endless possibilities. We have new learnings every day and see new opportunities to gain insights into better management of our brands. The TIPP Guideline provides a tagged-item grading system to simplify the specification of RFID performance requirements between retailer and supplier. We are proud to be early adopters and are helping to champion this technology and guideline.”
Melanie Nuce, vice president of apparel and general merchandise at GS1 US says that the performance of an RFID tag depends on many environmental variables such as the store environment, product packaging and orientation to the reader.
“Historically, retailers have conducted their own RFID performance testing and set their own individual expectations for tag inlay solutions that may be used to tag products destined for their stores,” she says. “This required suppliers to provide different solutions for different retailers. TIPP now allows retailers to set performance levels for a specific use case, and it also allows suppliers flexibility in how they meet grade levels from multiple retailers.”
Major retailers like Macy’s and American apparel have reported tangible results from RFID pilot programs, including reduced labor costs and enhanced inventory accuracy. In addition, retailers consider RFID key to their omni-channel strategies in 2015 and beyond.
“EPC-enabled item level RFID is a foundational technology that enables frequent cycle counts and inventory accuracy so we can fulfill our omni-channel customer demand,” says Pam Sweeney, senior vice president of logistics systems and technology at Macy’s. “As we grow our business, we will continue to expand our use of EPC-enabled RFID. The TIPP Guideline allows us the flexibility to set performance levels for our specific use-cases and enables our suppliers the flexibility to meet our grade level requirements without having to take on additional operational costs.”
The TIPP guideline was developed by members of the GS1 US Item Level RFID Workgroup, a focused collaboration within the GS1 US Apparel and General Merchandise Initiative. The Workgroup supports best practices for optimizing inventory visibility through item level RFID technology.