ANWR Group, a European trade cooperative composed of footwear, leather-goods, sporting-goods and bicycle retailers, is conducting a three-store proof-of-concept (POC) project involving the RFID-tagging of shoes.
The organization says it hopes to prove whether radio frequency identification technology can effectively track inventory, prevent theft, optimize processes and enable sales. If the POC — which started in September 2016 and is expected to continue through the end of this year — is successful, ANWR Group hopes the results could help lead to a more detailed standard into the tagging of shoes for the benefit of ANWR's customers (shoe retailers).
ANWR Group is a German-based association of companies that serves small, midsize and large shoe retailers in Germany, as well as in other parts of Europe. The organization acts as a wholesaler for footwear, purchasing products from manufacturers and then making these goods available to its retailer members, according to Harald Krug, ANWR Group's divisional head of retail logistics.
The group provides services to retailers, such as an online platform to enable stores to sell their products on the internet, as well as seminars and training. It also examines trends, including logistics, for its customers. Although EPC ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID technology has been deployed in retail markets for apparel, Krug says, the use of RFID for shoes has been less consistent. While a number of retailers have been RFID-tagging many products, he explains, shoes are not typically being tagged by manufacturers or retailers. When they are, GS1 standards call for the application of tags to a single shoe in each pair. ANWR speculates that this practice may be inadequate, however, since single shoes and their boxes can be separated on store displays, and is thus testing the technology with two tags for each pair of shoes — in some cases three, including a tag affixed to the cardboard box containing that pair.