As 2015 winds down, RFID continues to ramp up with apparel retailers. In fact, it’s likely that more than $100 billion worth of specialty apparel merchandise will carry RFID tags each year as more behind the scenes projects gain in scale.
That calculation was made by Marshall Kay and John-Pierre Kamel in their 9th annual RFID Report that appeared in Apparel Magazine last month. The study provides a wide view of the major RFID projects in 2015, and also looks at the role hardware and software is playing within retail. Kay and Kamel are principals at retail consultancy RFID Sherpas.
The retail apparel industry is expected to tag about four 4 billion items this year, which is just a fraction of the total universe of apparel goods. According to Apparel Magazine, the four largest companies in the specialty apparel sector — Inditex, Fast Retailing, Gap Inc. and Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) — collectively sell more than $80 billion per year of merchandise.
The global rollout by Inditex’s Zara division seems to be having a snowball effect. Apparel Magazine mentions the following projects:
Fast Company published a profile of Gap Inc. in March 2015 that referenced a range of internal projects. One is a project of unspecified scale involving RFID-tagged clothing. The current status of that project is not known.
GS1 Japan has indicated that Fast Retailing, whose portfolio of brands includes Uniqlo and GU, is currently conducting an RFID trial in its GU chain of stores.
If you also account for the revenue of other specialty apparel retailers currently using RFID, including the company-owned stores of prominent apparel brands, you can begin to picture a scenario where more than $100 billion of specialty apparel merchandise will be routinely tagged each year.
How much of a fixture has RFID become in apparel retail?
“The fact that we no longer feel any need to make predictions in this report speaks volumes about how firmly entrenched RFID has become in large segments of the apparel and footwear industries,” say the authors.