Suppliers, retailers and solution providers seeking help on efficient identification, serialization and placement of Electronic Product Code (EPC)-enabled RFID tags should benefit from new guidelines that were announced by the board of the Voluntary Interindustry Commerce Solutions Association (VICS).
The new guidelines, developed by the VICS Item Level RFID Initiative (VILRI) on RFID tag placement and performance, cover how the industry should cooperate to ensure reliable tag performance and data capture deployment.
“The VICS board’s decision to adopt the guidelines for tag placement and performance and serialization gives a strong signal to the industry that all trading partners need to move beyond limited trials and consider fully fledged rollouts of RFID systems at the item level,” said Joe Andraski, president and CEO of VICS. “The improvement in inventory accuracy alone has proven to deliver more than enough to pay for the investment. Now that we have a growing number of standards to guide companies through the process, the initial outlay for these systems is likely to decrease.”
The guideline for tag placement uses the UPC tag placement guideline as a starting point and requires bi-directional communication between supplier and retailer during EPC implementation in order to determine optimal EPC type and placement. The goal is to minimize work effort and keep implementation costs low. The guidelines for tag performance inform the business user community about the factors that influence use-case fitness of RFID tags, and how the industry can and should cooperate now and in the future to ensure reliable deployments from a tag performance and data capture perspective. The VICS board also endorsed the GS1 US Serialization Management Working Group approach to re-enforce the GS1 General Specification where brand owners are the sole owners of the serial number for their products.
The VICS board previously endorsed the GS1 EPC standards, which enable companies to identify, capture and share information to deliver real time visibility into inventory and business processes. GS1 EPC standards increase visibility and efficiency throughout the supply chain and improve quality information flow between companies and their key trading partners. VICS has also endorsed the use of GS1 Keys, Barcode Data Capture standards and other GS1 technical standards, including VICS EDI.
“The people leading the VICS Item Level RFID Initiative will do for the EPC what forward-looking people did for the UPC barcode in the 1970s,” said Bob Carpenter, president and CEO of GS1 US. “Their consensus on using a standards-based approach to RFID will dramatically accelerate widespread adoption of the technology. Their companies will be more efficient, and as a result their customers will be happier and more loyal.”
The new guidelines are specific to replenishable merchandise in apparel and footwear. VILRI anticipates that they will include other consumer goods in the future as determined by the advisory board and approved by the VICS board.
The VICS Item Level RFID Initiative (VILRI) is an inter-industry group of the country’s leading retailers, suppliers, industry associations, academics and solution providers dedicated to quantifying the benefits of item level RFID and exploring how it can improve business processes throughout the retail value chain. VILRI foresees the evolution of global supply chain efficiency through the adoption of item level EPC-enabled RFID technology, which will foster innovation, improve business processes and enhance consumer experiences. VILRI is open to members and affiliates interested in becoming involved in this exciting and strategic juncture in retail history. The initiative is supported by American Apparel & Footwear Association, Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, GS1 Canada, GS1 US, National Retail Federation, Retail Council of Canada, Retail Industry Leaders Association and Voluntary Interindustry Commerce Solutions Association.