“RFID tags on clothes is one such development where RFID labels, inlays, or hard tags are attached to clothing items for identification and tracking purposes.”
The RFID technology has been around long but we have been witnessing a rapid growth in RFID use cases over the last few years only. And to a great extent, it has to do with the decline in RFID implementation costs. A UHF passive RFID label now costs 4-5 US cents which was earlier around 40-50 cents. That’s a huge decline in RFID tag cost over the last few years, leading to high demand for RFID products in various industries such as retail, supply chain, logistics, manufacturing, automation, healthcare, education, etc.
‘RFID tags on clothes’ is one such development where RFID labels, inlays, or hard tags are attached to clothing items for identification and tracking purposes. In various retail stores, RFID tags are attached to clothes, shoes, hats, etc. for identification and stock management purposes. At POS, either the tag is removed after billing or it is irrevocably deactivated in the case of washable labels on clothes. A kill password in the RFID tag memory is used for this purpose.
When Benetton Planned to Introduce RFID Smart Tags in Apparel
It was the year 2003 when Terry Phipps who was consulting CIO of Ponzano Veneto, Italian fashion group Benetton, made the announcement that for the first time, the company had planned to introduce tracking technology into one of its product lines.
What followed this announcement was a protest by some privacy groups and individuals, one of them being Dr. Katherine Albrecht, a Harvard-educated privacy activist who wrote the book, ‘SPYCHIPS’, a quite interesting take on privacy and data breach and tracking of individuals using RFID tags. Forced by the vehement protests by these groups, Benetton decided to drop the idea saying, “No microchips (smart labels) are present in more than 100 million garments produced and sold throughout the world under its brand names, including the Sisley brand." It would first analyze various studies available on RFID technology and then think about RFID tags in the future.
Dr. Katherine Albrecht, in her book ‘Spychips,’ made ferocious arguments on how RFID tagging of consumer-oriented products like clothes and groceries would lead to privacy concerns, and big companies invading the private lives of individuals through RFID tags.
RFID tags on clothes at Present
RFID tags in clothes indeed pose several challenges, not only for the brands but for the consumers as well. Data privacy laws in various countries prevent such kind of snooping by apparel companies while customers also have no means to check if any particular RFID tag in their shirt or shoe is still active or not.
Various washable RFID tags for clothes now exist that can be sewn into clothes and given that RFID washable labels are inexpensive as of now, many fashion brands are using RFID tags for their fashion retail supply chain and inventory management. RFID tagging of each item in a store, placing RFID tags on clothes, etc. improves the overall visibility of items inside the store, enhances inventory management, and improves customer experience. Fashion giants like H&M, Zara, Levi Strauss and Co, Ralph Lauren, Burberry London, Tommy Hilfiger, Nike, etc. have successfully implemented RFID tags in their stores with item-level RFID tagging, supply chain tracking, and RFID tags in fitting rooms, etc.
Fashion companies also use RFID tags to prevent counterfeiting of their products. Unique kinds of RFID tags with unique identification can be sewn into apparel to prevent first copies and duplicates of popular brand items.
RFID tags for Clothes
Common sense dictates that you cannot sew an RFID hard tag on a piece of clothing. So, what kinds of RFID tags are suitable for clothing items and what happens when you wash that particular apparel in a washing machine?
Well, RFID offers a great form factor, even in the form of an implant but you don’t need a tiny implant for clothes. Various Washcare RFID tags are available that can be sewn into clothing items with great subtlety. Washable RFID labels for garments are made of wash care fabrics such as taffeta and can stand hundreds of wash cycles, hot water, high temperatures, and other wash-related issues.
A Washcare or Washable RFID tag for garments costs around INR 6 onwards. An RFID taffeta tag, which is made of taffeta fabric, also costs INR 6 per tag and can be availed from EnCStore.com. Various kinds of RFID garment tags such as button tags, silicone, and fabric tags are also used for garment tagging.
Benefits of RFID tags on Clothes
RFID tags on clothes have become increasingly popular, offering numerous benefits such as inventory management, anti-theft measures, and enhanced customer experience.
Unlike barcodes, RFID tags on clothes do not require a direct line of sight to be scanned, making them more efficient and accurate for inventory management in retail stores as well as laundry stations.
Inventory Management in Retail Stores
In retail stores, it is difficult to find a particular item on an urgent basis given the huge inventory retail stores have to keep. Using RFID tags on clothes provides retailers with real-time visibility of their inventory. Placing RFID readers at strategic locations allows retailers to track the movement of clothes throughout their supply chain, improving accuracy and reducing stock-outs.
Supply Chain Optimization
RFID tags also enable seamless tracking of clothes from the manufacturer to the store shelves, allowing retailers to streamline their supply chain operations, reduce manual labor, and improve order fulfillment speed. Since customers nowadays need real-time updates on their orders, RFID allows real-time tracking improving order fulfillment.
RFID tags can be used to deter shoplifting and reduce losses as well. When a customer attempts to leave a store with an item that hasn't been paid for, RFID readers can trigger alarms, alerting store personnel. RFID prevents stock shrinkage.
Benefits of RFID tags on clothes for Consumers
Improved Shopping Experience
RFID on clothes helps with locating tagged items on an urgent basis. It also allows for faster and more accurate checkout processes. Customers can simply place their items on a reader or pass through a gate, eliminating the need for manual scanning. This improves customer shopping experience tremendously.
RFID tags on clothes can help retailers gather customer data and their preferences.
It enables them to provide personalized recommendations based on past purchases and preferences as well. Based on sales and demand, retailers can also stock more items in a particular category to meet customer expectations.
It also helps with easy returns.
To summarize, RFID tags on clothes have revolutionized the retail, laundry, and textile industries by enhancing inventory management, optimizing supply chains, and improving the overall shopping experience. The use of RFID tags also raises concerns about data security and privacy. Some argue that the use of RFID tags on clothes infringes on personal privacy by allowing constant tracking of individuals. However, proper protocols and regulations can address these issues.
- Last updated on Sep 20, 2023