RFID Technology: 5 Ways Fashion Brands Are Using It
By: Rosanna Ryan
The use of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology in the fashion industry is increasingly prevalent and proving to be an ingenious time and money saver.
The fashion industry is notorious for its slow adaptation to all things tech, but when leaders in the sector finally take the leap of faith, they transform their businesses in ways that set them lightyears apart from the competition. Like in any other business, the more efficient a fashion company’s operations are, the more money and time is saved – which is why implementing RFID technology is an absolute no-brainer.
RFID isn’t exactly the latest in technological inventions, they say it goes all the way back to World War II, when it was used to warn approaching planes of enemies. It’s highly effective for storing information digitally; the stored information is shared between objects through electromagnetic fields and radio waves. But wait, what exactly does this have to do with fashion?
Fashion companies are streamlining their business by taking advantage of RFID to…
- Combat counterfeit products
- Improve in-store shopping
- Control inventory & restock quickly
- Track samples
- Organize events
Combat Counterfeit Products
It’s no news that the fashion industry suffers from massive revenue losses due to counterfeiting. In Europe alone the industry loses approximately €26.3 billionannually and about 363,000 direct jobs.
Salvatore Ferragamo’s mission to crack down on fakes has propelled the company to find ways of guaranteeing product authenticity and this is where RFID comes into play. They have been inserting microchips in their products since 2014, which not only allow them to scan for authenticity, but also track their products. Moncler has started using this technology with the same objective, providing their customers with an app or web service via which they can scan their recently-purchased items.
Improve In-store Shopping
As retailers and fashion brands continue fighting to lure customers into their brick-and-mortar, they are faced with the reality that nowadays, you either provide a buzzworthy shopping experience or you’re out.
Industry leaders such as Burberry, Ralph Lauren and Rebecca Minkoff have discovered innovative ways of transforming their customer experience into a journey to the future.
- Walking into the store – At Burberry RFID tags are present in products in their “500 stores spread across 50 countries which can communicate with shoppers’ mobiles, giving information about how items were produced or recommendations on how they can be worn or used” according to Forbes.
- In the fitting room – Have you ever tried on something at a store and wondered if it was available in another size or color? At Ralph Lauren’s flagship in Manhattan all you have to do is take an item into the fitting room and their RFID technology identifies the item in your hands. It then provides you with a list of the available colors and sizes on a screen, answering your question before you’ve even asked.
- Self check-out – Rebecca Minkoff’s use of RFID seeks to bring customers a stress-free shopping experience in which waiting in long lines to pay is no longer necessary. The store is outfitted with RFID tables and iPads; you simply place the item you want to purchase on the table, the technology identifies the item and you pay for it via the iPad.
Control Inventory & Restock Stores Quickly
Global fast-fashion giant Inditex has proven time and time again to be a leader in efficiency, and their use of RFID is no exception. Tagging their clothing with RFID permits staff to know exactly where garments are in their stock room and to control what and when to re-stock. Not only does the stockroom get notified of exactly what products to restock when something is purchased, stock controllers can also do inventory in less than a sixth of the time it used to take. Having this degree of control of your stock means knowing exactly what needs to be produced or ordered to replenish, without overshooting and overspending.
RFID tags are present across all of Inditex’s Zara stores and plans to implement this technology in the other brand stores are underway.
While Inditex uses RFID to track their stock, other brands are also inserting these tags in their samples to better control their precious prototypes. When fashion companies scale to the point that they begin lending samples across the globe for different editorials or events, there’s a high risk of losing these items. Luckily there are sample tracking platforms which use RFID tags to control exactly which products have left the showroom, where they are, if they’re on their way back to the studio or if they’ve been misplaced. Thanks to this innovation, fashion companies have reportedly experienced an 85% reduction in sample loss.
Paper invitations in the Fashion Industry may not quite be a thing of the past yet, but the way they are used is changing. If you’ve gone to any fashion shows in the past couple of years, you may have already used an invitation with a barcode, which is scanned upon entering the event.
However, the most forward-thinking event planners are now implementing RFID technology and event organization software to optimize the check-in process. The tags are inconspicuously inserted into the invitations, invisible to the naked eye, and antennas are used at the entrance to detect when someone with an invitation has arrived. A signal is sent to the event organizer’s phone and the guest’s info pops up on the screen indicating where the guest is to be seated and any other relevant information. This is by far the most comfortable way for guests to check into an event as they don’t even have to take their invitation out, as long as it’s in their bag or pocket, everything else is taken care of by RFID.
It’s only a matter of time before another innovative piece of technology arrives and further changes are made to all of these aspects of fashion business. But for now, we’re really excited about how RFID is transforming and streamlining processes. What other ways have you seen RFID used in the industry? Let us know in the comments below!