RFID in Retail

Raise inventory accuracy in the retail sector with GS1 – Implement RFID with best practice guidance based on global learnings. 

RFID provides the ability to identify, track and trace every single product with a serialised number. This not only improves inventory management and processes but also enhances visibility across the supply chain.


What is RFID

RFID refers to the use of radio waves to read and capture information stored on a tag attached to an object. An RFID solution is principally made up of four components:



Features and benefits of RFID

Feature of RFID

Operational potential


No line of sight required

Automate processes

Reduced labour cost for manual scans

Unattended item level identification

Reader network can automatically identify objects at the item level

Higher level of inventory accuracy



Enables tracking that is difficult/cost prohibitive with barcodes

Data capacity

Provide additional item tracking information (lot, batch, product history)

Reduced need for internal system integration



Improved granularity of data



Better inventory management



Higher level of visibility and traceability of products

Read-write capability

Tag can serve as a portable database

Reduced systems integration and data storage

Reading speed

Higher speed - reads multiple items simultaneously

Elimination of manual processes and labour for repetitive scans


"Permanently" tag assets or reusable containers

Eliminate time/labour associated with re-labelling items/assets over time



Enables tracking of assets/items that are not suitable for barcodes


Electronic Product Code (EPC) enabled RFID is the global standard maintained by GS1 for RFID technology. Created in collaboration with RFID technology providers, suppliers and retail users, the EPC standard defines three key elements of the technology:

How data is to be stored on the tag

The data structure for tags is a simple extension of the widely used GS1 system of product identifiers. EPC RFD codes consist of each product's Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) - these are sometimes called UPC or EANs - with the addition of a serial number for each product instance and some instructions for the reader.

How a tag talks to the reader

The EPC standard provides a blueprint for how tags and readers talk to each other - this means that as long as both are EPC compliant, any combination of tags and readers will work together. In order to do this, the industry has reduced the variability of tags and readers, uniting in the use of passive, Ultra High Frequency (UHF) tags.  In Australia the standard is 918-926 MHz frequency range.

How readers talk to business systems

The final part of the EPC standard - how the reader links the data that it captures back into your systems - ultimately ensures the interoperability of your RFID solution. This enables the efficient and automated communication of data across your network of departments, suppliers and partners.

Business benefits of RFID in the apparel sector

"The effect of RFID will be felt right through our supply chain, enabling us to automate our facilities up stream. The technology maximises the benefits of automation. It will allow us to consolidate and fulfil orders, from across channels and sources, serving the customer more efficiently. Ultimately this affects the authenticity of our brand." - Terry Murphy, Director National Distribution Centre, John Lewis