RFID is abuzz
Earlier this month we wrote a post on the necessity of a consultative approach to a company’s adoption of RFID technology. While the article outlined more specifics, the overall argument was this: each company inevitably has a set of unique needs. By consulting with those companies, learning specific needs, challenges, etc., it’s possible to make improvements not just to their operations, but also the operations of every other client.
That aforementioned blog post was a response to a recent press release put out by Peltz Shoes, in which they announced they were dropping item-level RFID tracking for its inventory after six years of use. Since that press release, and our blog post, numerous outlets have taken to write about Peltz’s decision. So let’s look a little deeper into all of this, as there are some interesting things to glean.
Our interest in this story was initially peaked based on the simple fact that the press release even existed. It’s obviously common practice for companies to issue releases when they adopt new forms of technology. The media is flooded with announcements of fortune 500 companies going digital, adopting BYOD strategies or using new, sleek devices to streamline operations. Those type announcements ultimately garner the PR companies are after. Adoption of new technology shows that companies are looking to the future, looking for better ways to connect and looking to increase profits.
What we don’t typically see are press releases announcing the abandonment of technology. So why did Peltz go this route? Some have suggested that it was a way for the company to publicly vent their frustrations with their experience. There is certainly evidence for that based on the tone of the article, as losing money and man-hours is the most frustrating thing a company can experience, but that theory isn’t completely satisfying. A company of this size no doubt has an experienced PR department that would shy away from public outcries. A more reasonable explanation is that Peltz experienced the benefit of item-level RFID tracking, but was turned away by a few key issues. Since the media has been abuzz with stories of industry growth and expansion, perhaps they were looking to shed light on these issues in hopes that they would see resolutions and, ultimately, reacquire the technology after those resolutions came to fruition. This theory is bolstered by their concession in the final line of the release:
Peltz says that RFID is a great tool, but for all of the inaccuracies and associated high costs, it will not be a viable solution until a significant manufacturing change at the wholesale level occurs
If manufacturers applied RFID labels at the factory inside of the actual product, it would be much more beneficial. Doing so would increase inventory accuracy straight from the factory, but would also have the added benefits of preventing mismates and theft.
Now we’re getting somewhere. This is, perhaps unknowingly, Peltz at their most transparent in the release. Not only have they identified a problem in their process, but they’ve also provided a solution. The question begs, why not apply labels during the manufacturing process? This may as well be the opening argument for why processes should be tailored to companies to meet their needs.
So what can we glean from all of this? Well, there’s no doubt that companies are looking over this release, writing up their solutions and submitting bids to Peltz. The real writing on the wall is that there’s a disconnect between the company and the Radio Frequency Identification solutions provider. No, the technology isn’t perfect. We maintain that it’s still young and evolving, but solutions providers and clients working together can, in large part, solve the issues outlined here. Consultation is a great first step, but unless service and communication is ongoing there’s no way to adjust for the changing landscape of RFID. The real story here most likely lies in the relationship between Peltz and their RFID solutions provider.