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VILRI - A helping hand for fashion retailers

VILRI offers a hand to the apparel retailers hungry for RFID knowledge. Nordic ID is a member of the VILRI association, and with VILRI, helps educate on the benefits of RFID. Nordic ID does its part with the RFID Arena and supporting VILRI.

What is VILRI?

VILRI, which refers to VICS Item Level RFID Initiative, is an inter-industry non-profit organization formed by US leading retailers, suppliers, academia, industry associations and solution providers. It aims to quantify the benefits of item-level RFID and to explore the possibilities of the technology in improving the value chain. Finally, VILRI aims to promote the adoption of item-level EPC-enabled RFID technology carried through the whole retail supply chain. Shortly, the goal of VILRI is to create standard ways to use EPC-based standards through the whole retail apparel chain. Besides improving business processes, VILRI targets to enhance consumer experiences.
For the companies considering adoption of item-level RFID, VILRI has a supporting role. It develops value propositions for retailers, suppliers, consumers, and other stakeholders and suggests the timing for the introduction of RFID into the supply chain. VILRI also has a plan to publish and promote standards-based guidelines to support the adoption process and to secure the sustainability of RFID-related technology investments. In addition to these actions, VILRI also sponsors research and trials for exploring the potential of EPC RFID technologies in improving efficiencies through the entire retail value chain. VILRI is also publishing business process guides for retailers in specified business areas.


VILRI


 

 

"RFID NOW APPEARS SET TO CATCH FIRE"

According to a report from Accenture for VILRI, the apparel retail business is now facing a tipping point for adoption of item-level tagging. As in the case of many other technologies, it has taken some time for RFID to take off. The evidence shows that RFID technology is more capable to large-scale improvements than the current standard methods. In addition, the lightning-fast speed of store inventories is not the only one of the improvements.

Retail apparel industry has made a significant progress towards the adoption of RFID technology. Half of the U.S. retailers already have introduced item-level RFID in their business, and the majority of the remaining ones have promised to start the adoption over the next three to five years. In addition to these, over 50 percent of the suppliers interviewed by VILRI either have already piloted or deployed RFID in their own business. 48 percent of the respondents who had not yet implemented item-level RFID indicated serious considerations towards the adoption in the near future.

When considering the apparel industry, one of the most important benefits of RFID is the quick and accurate cycle counting, which leads to high inventory accuracy. In addition, lost items can be traced in terms of what, when and from where the item has been lost. The retailer can quickly react to order the item more or consider a better location for the product. And as RFID is used through the whole retail supply chain, the retailer can make sure to pay only for the ordered and arrived products, not for missing ones or something else. Also, instead of the traditional pick/pack process scanning the items without opening the boxes reduces the labor costs. There are also less human mistakes since there is no need for a person to first read one code, then count all the items with the same code and finally put the items back to the box and sending it forward. Instead, the automatically scanning RFID reader does it all. Another valid argument for a retailer to consider RFID is the fact that the shipping notice or packing list can be sent beforehand to the store. Based on the information of the list the retailers can make enough space in the warehouse and shop premises and even take product reservations from the customers.

RFID also provides a solution to branding issues. With RFID it is possible to track the origin of all the fibers in a shirt. If you buy a shirt made of organic cotton, you can be sure that it really is made of organic cotton since the whole supply chain can be tracked. Happy news for consumers with allergies: colorants and such used for the product can be tracked.

One more issue bringing brand advantages is the reduction of counterfeiting. One way to do this is to give a manufacturer a certain amount of tags to be sewn into the products. The genuine ones can be easily separated from the fake ones with a simple tag reading. Also, if a manufacturer is sent 100 tags, he owes really good explanations if the number of items arrived to the store is something else than 100. Another way is to tag all the sewing machines: if a sewing machine is taken outside of a factory, it would make an alarm. Or both the sewing machine user and the machine could be joined together with tags in a way that only a specific person can use a specific machine. This is way to track the fastest employees and perhaps reward them. Also the ones causing the most of machine breakdowns can be tracked.

VILRI - What's in it for me as an apparel retailer?

The majority of the research findings above have been provided by VILRI, which is constantly researching RFID, its new benefits and applications. Some of the most crucial other findings with exact numbers are for instance the following:

-the time and effort reduced from cycle counting is 96 percent

-inventory accuracy increased is between 17 and 27 percent

-national and global average out-of-stock is 8 percent, the potential sales loss for retailers is 3.2 percent and for suppliers only 2.8 percent

- the best retailer inventory accuracy is 92 percent, which is 21 percent better to the result of average companies and twice better than of technology laggards

- RFID readers have a capacity to process 18,000 items per hour with 99 percent reading accuracy.

Getting industry leaders or competitors together can speed up adopting RFID in the whole industry. These parties can decide on industry-wide level about the adoption of RFID and by agreeing on standards and implementation it is easy to create the general standards around the industry and thus provide guidelines for the others. What can VILRI do, is to bring together these parties. For instance in the U.S. Dillard's, JCPenney, Jones Apparel, Macy's and Walmart cooperate through VILRI with an aim of promoting the adoption of RFID standards and the way of implementing the standards. If VILRI's members gain a common understanding about these standards, the deployment becomes easier for all involved parties. The standards include issues such as the placing of tags, chosen data formats and the amount of information shared between retailer and suppliers. In total, collaboration leads to speeding adoption, the industry can reach the critical mass faster and the benefits of technology are available for all sooner.

The retailers involved with VILRI are aiming to improve inventory management and replenishment by using RFID. However, they still fiercely compete for market share, advertising, price, brand loyalty and such factors. Together they push the industry to new direction and as pacesetters enable mass adoption. All in all, your best friend is still your worst enemy.

Organizations behind VILRI

Besides of the retailers and their suppliers using the technology, there are the other members of VILRI: the technology providers who also act as sponsors for VILRI. Among these there are well-known companies such as Checkpoint, Avery Dennison, UPM RFID and -with its RFID fixed readers and mobile computers - Nordic ID. For the sponsors VILRI offers a possibility to network with other organizations involved in RFID. In addition the sponsors have an opportunity to advance the use of RFID.

More information about VILRI:

VILRI website

VILRI news

http://www.vilri.org/key_research

RFID researches by University of Arkansas

RFID Journal articles

1 comment on “VILRI - A helping hand for fashion retailers”

  1. Posted 17 February 2012 at 06:20:56

    For more info on VILRI, also check out RFID 24-7's extensive (and free) content on retail apparel tagging!

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