Inventory management solutions provider Avery Dennison has announced a global partnership with Target focused on Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology as part of the retailer's ongoing deployment of RFID across more than 1,600 locations.
Target is deploying Avery Dennison's broad UHF RFID portfolio for a variety of category and performance needs, including apparel and home products. Also, an Avery Dennison statement said the company’s RFID tags “have been seamlessly integrated with current trim products to optimize the branding of the garments being tagged.”
The announcement of the partnership comes almost two years after Target announced a major initiative to bring RFID tags and technology into all of its stores.
Target has consistently said that it sees RFID as important, though after its big announcement in 2015 outlining its RFID adoption plans, we can't find record of the retailer saying anything about which technology suppliers it was using for the project. The closest thing we could find was this presentation from late 2015, which mentions Avery Dennison (on page 30, along with fellow RFID company SML Group), though Avery Dennison isn't specifically referenced as Target's partner. So, has Avery Dennison been Target's RFID project partner all along, and it's just being formally announced now? We're not sure.
It's also interesting that throughout last year Target didn't offer many specifics at all about how its effort to bring RFID into all of its locations was going. Then, just before 2016 ended, Target touted RFID and related technology investments as helping it improve its buy online, pick up in-store program and contribute to its third quarter 2016 sales increase. Still, we can't find any public statements from Target about how many of its store currently have RFID, and to what extent RFID is used in those stores already.
This week's announcement from Avery Dennison does seem to suggest that Target's plans for UHF RFID tags extend beyond apparel — the original focus — to include some home products as well. That's what Avery Dennison said in its press release, anyway. Target isn't quoted at all in the release, which is not something you usually see with this type of announcement: If a retailer is named, it is often quoted, even if the quote is vague and lacking substance.
None of these comments are intended to throw shade at Avery Dennison's role in the project or its position in the RFID market. It would just be nice to know what's really happening with Target's RFID deployment. RFID is a technology that has major implications in both the supply chain and on the store floor in the years to come. It can help retailers be more accurate and efficient about managing inventory, can help them prevent loss from theft and ultimately can create more positive experiences and results for shoppers. Target could undeniably claim a leadership role in this movement if it talked a little more about what it is actually doing.