The time has come to have a chat with Philip Calderbank, VP Global RFID at SML Group Ltd. Philip knows a great deal about tags and the tagging process of different item categories. He has an extensive background in RFID for the retail market.
Philip and his team at SML Group Ltd. work towards helping
retailers in today's fast paced retail environment. Having the
right product in the right place and at the right time, will
prevent missed sales opportunities. SML's ViziT, an RFID 'item
visibility' solution, is developed to ensure just that. Philip
emphasises the importance of maintaining on-shelf availability of
products at all times. He is also an expert at combating store
shrinkage with the help of EAS alarms.
In this interview we wanted to hear Phil's opinions and advice
when it comes to choosing the right tags for the right product
categories. We also wanted to discuss the tag prices and their
relative importance in an RFID project.
THE INITIAL PUSH FOR RFID
What would you describe as the initial push for RFID in your
Philip: I would say that on-shelf availability is the most
important factor for retail. When it comes to the supply chain, the
strongest pusher is item visibility.
THE EXCITEMENT IN RFID
There are a lot of studies from universities, independent
research companies and different vendors. But if you look at it
from the point of view of a retailer: What's the excitement in
Philip: In retail the big focus lies on on-shelf availability.
You need to have the right product, in the right place at the right
time. In 2013, we will be building the message
increasingly around loss prevention. In the supply chain,
on the other hand, we will look closer at the auditing of products
prior to shipping. We will be focusing on solutions that allow for
boxes with mixed items to be scanned and checked prior to
THE COST OF A TAG
What forms the price of a converted tag? Is there a
cost factor when the same customer chooses to use different shapes
and forms of tags?
Philip: This varies and depends a lot on tag form. E.g. the
basic blank sticker can be less than US$.08.
So, is it really all about the tag price?
Philip: Tag price is only a part of the equation. The
infrastructure required is also a part of the cost analysis, as
well as the operational procedures needed to deploy a successful
APPLYING TAGS TO ITEMS
What are the different means of applying tags on an
Philip: Normally it is the same equipment that is used to attach
standard labels and price tickets. Swift attach guns are the most
common ones. The procedure is normally:
- Read the barcode on the shipping manifest.
- Use a dual RFID/barcode scanner and read the barcode or RFID
tag on the packing box.
- Select RFID labels that match with the SKU.
- Apply the labels.
- Scan the labels to ensure the count matches the shipping
WHICH TAG FOR WHAT PURPOSE?
How to manage the tagging of different types of items? (e.g.
jewelry, apparel, shoes, electronics etc).
Philip: Each product category requires a different tag and a
different approach to the application of the tag. However, normal
tagging techniques and procedures will apply at the point of
application in most cases.
And as a bonus question: how do you feel / react when people
suggest to use one tag to tag all their products (for example using
Smartrac WEP for clothes, shoes and accessories)?
Philip: It is simply not possible.
Philip Calderbank, Vice President - Global RFID at SML. www.SML.com
Introduction to the interview series
1-ON-1 with Kris Doane: RFID from a retailers
point of view
3 interviews: RFID the perspective of
1-ON-1 with Owe Quide: RFID from an RFID
consultant's point of view
1-ON-1 with Jorma Lalla: RFID from ahardware vendor
point of view
1-ON-2 with Matjaz Novak and Tom Vieweger: RFID
from a software vendor point of view