Integrated RFID tags with eye-catching logos and graphics

Integrated RFID tags with eye-catching logos and graphics

Fully integrated RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags, which combine RFID inlays with all critical printed data and graphics into a single ticket, are sparking a surge of interest from apparel retailers, brand owners, manufacturers and their global suppliers, according to George Hoffman, CEO at FineLine Technologies.

The tags deliver economic and branding advantages, and are essential to shifting garment-tagging operations farther up the supply chain where tag application is far less expensive.

Until recently, tag producers did not have the technology to fully incorporate RFID inlays with tag stock, and tag production was kept close to home. But now, improvements in tag manufacturing processes and the establishment of tag production plants in proximity to worldwide apparel manufacturing centres are making integrated tags a highly desirable option.

Prior to the emergence of integrated RFID tags, apparel sector RFID tagging solutions involved attaching secondary RFID tags to garments or affixing RFID-enabled stickers to existing brand or price tickets.

But this often meant compromising brand packaging standards. Secondary RFID tags can detract from garment presentation by concealing brand logos or product information such as size or price. Shoppers can be turned off by the tag clutter, or mistake secondary tags as markdown tickets for irregular or slow-moving items. More, the practice of dual ticketing increases tag purchase costs and potential tag mismatches.

Linda Sarentino, GVP strategic services, PVH Corp, observes: "Applying a secondary RFID sticker to a garment during the manufacturing process not only costs more money but it also increases the chances of someone applying the wrong EPC (Electronic Product Code) encoded tag to the existing printed UPC price ticket. This in turn could lead to inaccurate store inventory levels."

In contrast, stylish integrated RFID tags in varying shapes and designs and with eye-catching logos and graphics reduce the risk of mislabelling garments, lessen consumer confusion and improve overall product appearance.

Less costly tagging
The spread of integrated tag production around the world addresses a second issue affecting RFID adoption – the operational costs of item tagging. Retailers often look past the cost of tagging during the RFID testing and evaluation phase, focusing instead on hardware and software selection and their integration into store infrastructure. But as RFID systems go live, the total cost of in-store tagging becomes more obvious.

There is the obvious cost of buying and applying multiple RFID tags or stickers, for example, versus the cost of buying and applying just one per garment. Compounding this are minimum order requirements mandated by many tag and sticker producers. For short apparel production runs, retailers can end up paying for tags they will never use.

Typically, a store’s sales associates or stockroom personnel are assigned the task of applying RFID tags to garments. The tag application rate varies from two to four tags per minute. That translates into North American labour costs ranging from $.06 to $.12 per item.

This type of tagging operation is difficult for retailers to sustain economically over the long term. It’s also inefficient, diverting store personnel from tasks that directly boost sales. A more cost-effective solution is having supply partners tag garments upstream, well before the point of sale.

With apparel retailers and brand owners now able to source integrated RFID tags in proximity to apparel manufacturing sites, tag application close to the needle can yield big dividends. Fully integrated RFID tags can now usually be ordered without minimum quantity requirements and delivered within 48 hours. Cost for applying RFID tags to garments in apparel-producing regions ranges from $.007 to $.014 per tag – about 10% of the application cost at home.

Look for integrated tags to gain major traction as their cost and branding benefits push outdated multiple RFID ticking solutions to the dustbin.

About the author:
George Hoffman is CEO at FineLine Technologies, which provides variable data ticketing and mobile solutions for retailers, suppliers, and manufacturers throughout the world, with products ranging from barcoded tags to RFID, RF and NFC integrated ticketing and labelling applications. With headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, the company owns and operates facilities in the US, Canada, Hong Kong and Shenzhen, China.