Britain is home to some of the world's leading footwear brands and the most creative directional designers. The industry has a 2.3 billion annual turnover at ex-factory prices and exports over 90% of its production around the world. By RFID enabling the entire process from POS to materials sourcing, the industry can strip millions of pounds of cost out of the supply chain.

A unique and innovative initiative of leading radio-frequency identification (RFID) players has been formed this week to tackle the mounting demand for the implementation of RFID technology, specific to the footwear sector. Paxar EMEA; OATSystems; Supply Chain Connect and Nordic ID have come together to form footprint (footprint or the Group), the footwear industrys first RFID action group.

The mission of the Group is to provide a one stop RFID solution for the footwear industry. footprint will also act as a forum for debate, bringing together leaders from the footwear and technology industries. The industry initiative will be officially launched later this month, at the Finnish Ambassadors Residence.

Commenting on todays news, Cyrus Gilbert-Rolfe, Managing Director, OATSystems, noted: RFID will have a major effect on the footwear industry, transforming manufacturing, distribution, and retail. Industry leaders assure me that the need is real and the time is now. RFID is going to provide significant benefits for the footwear industry.

RFID is already displacing barcode systems for many reasons including: no longer requiring line of sight for counting; being able to count hundreds of items accurately rather than one at a time; and applying a unique serial number rather than a generic one. Companies are moving quickly to harness opportunities and gain advantage through:

-Enhancing customer satisfaction by ensuring on-shelf availability
-Facilitating electronic proof of delivery no more loss or confusion due to disputed receipt
-Track and trace visibility across entire chain exposes losses (shrink) and introductions (counterfeit) between manufacture and retail
-Pallet x-ray allowing instant stock check for cross docking
-Increasing promotion effectiveness better synchronise availability with in-store marketing spend

Max Tatford, Marketing Manager at Paxar EMEA, added: Todays news clearly highlights the overall benefits that RFID brings to the retail sector. Turning our sights to the footwear sector, we believe this technology will provide a myriad of much needed benefits. We look to the future growth of this niche area of the market, with confidence.

OAT brings to bear the unique experience of having done hundreds of RFID projects including global RFID platform rollouts at Tesco, Hewlett-Packard and Gillette. The software layer in the footprint proposition will be built on the OAT Foundation Suite, which provides companies with a proven turnkey RFID solution.

Paxar EMEA, a member of EPCglobal, and the exclusive manufacturer for the supply of RFID tags to the ongoing Marks & Spencer trial, will provide a managed service of web based Compliance Format Management Programs, format delivery, verification of data, compliance mandate specification and instigation, throughout the supply chain.

Nordic ID, which designs and manufactures wireless handhelds, will bring to the industry initiative the capability to provide ergonomic, easy-to use and efficient handheld terminals, forming an integral part of the Group. These terminals can be configured with a laser scanner or an RFID engine, or both.

Supply Chain Connect provides the footprint Group with a fully hosted infrastructure over which clients and their supply chain partners can securely exchange real-time supply chain and RFID data - this includes retail stores, distribution locations, suppliers, contract manufacturers, logistics providers etc. Supply Chain Connect provides the ability for the RFID derived data to be made visible either as inventory within existing systems or else via a web browser where it is contextualised and allows users to remotely query the RFID tag data so as to enable unit track and trace across the supply chain.

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