RFID technology goes global for cosmetics

By Louise Prance

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Rfid Supply chain Supply chain management Electronic product code

The international phenomenon that is radio frequency identification
technology (RFID) has at last hit Japanese cosmetic counters, with
Global beauty manufacturer Shiseido taking part in a field trial in
Japan this month.

The trial, known as the 2007 Field Trial for Improving Distribution and Logistics Efficency through the use of Electronic Tags, will be held at Shiseido counters at certain Mitsukoshi stores throughout Japan.

With global cosmetics sales reaching an unprecedented high at $26 bn in 2006 and many manufacturers benefiting from the safety elements that RFID tagging brings to the beauty product, it seems it was long overdue that the technology hit beauty counters in the Asian cosmetics market.

The move heralds a breakthrough for the technology more frequently used in food labelling and will it further for efficiency in supply chain management and the impact of increasing consumer intent of purchasing cosmetic products.

The trial will allow consumers to view product information on a touch screen terminal by holding the product over a RFID tag reader.

The trial is being sponsored by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) of Japan and will see RFID tags affixed to Shiseido's Cle de Peau Beaute products, all product testers and some samples.

Despite it being the first time it has been used for cosmetic products in this market, RFID has previously been used on women's shoes and apparel in Japan.

RFID has long been touted as the future of logistics for all companies by allowing retailers and suppliers to track goods throughout the supply chain.

The technology is growing at an average annual rate of 8 per cent and was expected to exceed €555m in 2006, according to statistics published by BCC Research.

Although, the cost of fully integrating RFID into a production system was once deemed too high for many manufacturers, now those manufacturers are spurring the growth to meet retail demands, says BCC Research.

Many global packagers have caught onto the trend, incorporating it into packaging and secondary packaging to counteract tracking and security issues.

Intelligent Global Pooling Systems (iGPS) has coupled an international product coding system with RFID to better allow processors to track their cosmetics products throughout the global supply chain.

The company said it has incorporated EPCglobal's electronic product code (EPC) into its RFID tracking system, enabling its pallets to be identified worldwide.

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