Nordstrom Issues Supplier Mandate for RFID Tagging

Nordstrom has joined other retailers in mandating the application of RFID tags to the products it sells in its stores. The company’s directive to its suppliers includes RFID ticketed products for all of its channels, including Nordstrom, Nordstrom CA, Nordstrom Rack and Nordstrom Rack CA. RFID-ticketed products are not yet required for drop-ship suppliers. The mandate follows other RFID adoption efforts, including those by Walmart (Walmart Re-Commits to RFID, Walmart Tries RFID Again and New Education Program for Suppliers Facing RFID Tagging Mandates).

In a statement to its suppliers, Nordstrom said its long-term goal is to implement passive UHF RFID-encoded tickets across all product types and categories, and that it currently requires tags only on the product types and categories that have been tested and confirmed as reliable in the retail environment. That includes a large percentage of Nordstrom’s merchandise, such as apparel, accessories, home and gift products, baby gear, shoes and some cosmetics. Products that do not yet require RFID are mostly cosmetics, along with some household products and jewelry.

The company indicated that it does not dictate an approach for how the RFID tags are applied, though it recommends to its suppliers that they follow one of two paths: printing and encoding the RFID tickets in-house or ordering them via a service provider or other third party. “The simplest way to approach RFID ticketing is to obtain preprinted, pre-encoded RFID tickets from a third-party ticket provider,” the company stated in its message to suppliers.

Nordstrom called the third-party approach “quicker and easier to implement than other RFID ticketing solutions as it usually requires little adjustment to your factory or warehouse processes.” The retailer provided recommendations for three providers: FineLine Technologies, Avery Dennison and PAX Tag and Label.


With more brands and manufacturers applying RFID tags to their goods to meet retailer mandates, technology companies and some retailers are trying to create a path for a return on investment for those suppliers. Some are leveraging RFID data to improve workflows and supply chain visibility. However, according to Steven Davidson, FineLine Technologies’ Senior VP of Global Sales Retail, “Retailer mandate compliance is still the primary driver for most retail suppliers to implement item-level RFID tagging.” Still, he noted that many large retailers run a data-driven supply chain, using electronic data interchange [EDI] integrations.

FineLine Technologies is working with vendors that RFID source-tag at their factories, Davidson reported, and that now use the technology for automated outbound shipment verification and automatic advance shipping notification generation. In some cases, he added, “Vendors who are fulfilling shipments from their own distribution centers are using this RFID-powered inbound-outbound logistics solution to streamline receiving and increase shipment accuracy.”

For those acquiring RFID products, FineLine says it will offer 48-hour turnaround times on RFID products. Pax Tag & Label, a third-party ticket-printing service bureau, says it also orders processes, usually within two days. “By improving inventory management through RFID technology, both retailers and suppliers can aim for increased sales due to a more accurate supply chain,” said Michael Brown, President of Pax Tag & Label.

For more information regarding RFID technology application, Nordstrom is referring suppliers to GS1 to help them gain RFID tag-placement guidelines and learn about compatibility with the material in their products.

This article originally appeared in RFID Journal.

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