Benetton pushes back smart tags

Marks and Spencer has become the latest retailer to announce plans to embed radio frequency identification technology (RFID) tags...

Fashion retailer Benetton Group has sidelined plans for a major rollout of RFID technology across its stores.

The company announced last week that it has no immediate plans to attach RFID "smart tags" to its Sisley line of clothing to help track shipping, inventory and sales in the company's 5,000 stores around the world. But it left the door open to doing so in the future after further study.

Last month, Philips Electronics in Amsterdam issued a statement saying that the tags, which will use its I.CODE semiconductor technology, will be integrated into clothing labels made by Lab ID in Italy, and scanned by handheld devices made by Psion Teklogix, in Ontario.

Although privacy groups have expressed concern about the use of RFID tags, they said they did not believe it would create a problem if done openly and with notification to customers. Still, some groups urged that the company's clothing be boycotted.

In a statement Benetton said, "No microchips [smart labels] are present in more than 100 million garments produced and sold throughout the world under its brand names, including the Sisley brand."

Benetton added that even though it is analysing RFID technology, no feasibility studies - including analysis on the potential implications relating to individual privacy - on the use of this technology have yet been done.

The company said after those studies are completed, it will decide whether or not to implement the smart tag technology.

Meanwhile, Marks & Spencer has become the latest retailer to embed radio frequency identification technology (RFID) tags in its merchandise.

M&S will trial the technology later this year.

A growing line of retailers, including Woolworths and Gap have begun to use RFID tags, which allow goods to be tracked along the supply chain, to reduce retail crime, stock shrinkage and long checkout queues.

Benetton takes lead on RFID >>

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