Wednesday, January 04, 2006

RFID: VICS AND AAFA - Worst Foot Forward?

The Voluntary Interindustry Commerce Standards Committee (VICS) and the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) announced this week the release of a report titled, "Moving Forward with Item-Level Radio Frequency Identification in Apparel/Footwear."

The report is the result of a four-month study of the impact of RFID on manufacturing, distribution/logistics, inventory management, store operations, finance, loss prevention, and merchandising, to help member companies determine the right starting point for RFID evaluation.

Highlights include:
Where RFID item-level tagging provides the greatest value along the value chain
Who stands to benefit most from RFID
Which merchandise categories are best-suited to deriving tangible benefits

The study asserts that for companies to derive benefits from item-level tagging they should look first to the retail store environment. "Item-level RFID has the potential to bring new levels of inventory visibility and profit improvement, which could not be achieved through conventional means, across the apparel industry."

Once again, the benefits of RFID to the retail industry are overt and seductive, but there is no mention of benefit to the consumer. In fact, there is no mention of the consumer at all, except for a closing nod to EPCglobal's Guidelines for Consumer Privacy. "We encourage retailers and suppliers who embark on item-level RFID to responsibly address consumer privacy concerns by adhering to EPCglobal's
Guidelines for Consumer Privacy."

The RFID industry spends a lot of time and money defending the business case for RFID. Perhaps consumers would be less defensive if the industry did a better job communicating consumer benefits of the technology.

Well? We're waiting...


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