Forward Vision Analytics

RFID Enters Early Majority Phase in Retail

Findings from a European study, headed by the University of Parma, indicate that RFID deployments for fashion and apparel companies have passed the early adoption stage and are now poised to expand—in part, most recently to address omnichannel fulfillment.

Antonio Rizzi

Jan 04, 2019—RFID use for fashion and apparel retail in Europe has reached the early majority phase of adoption, according to a decade-long study led by Italy’s University of Parma. The study, titled “RFID Barometer in Retail,” examined approximately 160 printed accounts of RFID deployments, ranging from 2001 to 2018. The report finds that in retail, the days of early adoption are past.

Companies installing RFID systems are now less likely to be technology innovators, the report indicates, and are instead following the lead of early adopters. Whether deployments are just starting or are permanently installed, the study finds the focus now increasingly centered around out-of-stocks, inventory accuracy, process automation, stock visibility and replenishment from the back room, while omnichannel sales are emerging as a new use case. Retailers that aren’t already testing or adopting RFID risk falling into the “laggards” category, and potentially falling behind their competitors, according to Antonio Rizzi, the study’s co-author and a professor at the University of Parma’s Department of Engineering and Architecture.

The researchers found that the retail industry is far ahead of other sectors when it comes to RFID use. In fact, 75 percent of UHF RFID tags are sold to this industry. Because the market represents about 80 billion clothing and accessory items sold annually, the number of tags used will be significant in the future as well, they concluded, as will the number of deployments.