RFID tagging for footwear is one of the more complex areas of fashion retail to tackle. You’ll have more decisions to make than you might with apparel tagging but, like most things that take extra effort, the benefits significantly outweigh the work.

RFID tagging your footwear can help you keep pairs together, complete with their original box. It can also protect them from theft, authenticate them against forgeries, help you ace display compliance, and achieve supply chain transparency.

Our Global Product Solution Manager for RFID Inge Fleuren is here to help you get started. She reveals why RFID for footwear needs a different approach, things you'll need to consider before getting started, and what your tagging options are.


RFID tagging: what makes footwear so different?

It’s always better to stride into an RFID project rollout with a good knowledge of the technology and what it can do for you. And when it comes to footwear, there’s no faking it until you make it. You’ve gotta know your stuff!

Read: Everything you need to know about RFID

For example, apparel tagging usually involves just one RFID inlay. You can have it embedded in your hang tag or stuck to it with a self-adhesive; you can embed your inlay into the care label, the garment seam, the woven label, or the jacron patch. No matter which inlay you choose, you're dealing with one inlay and one set of information. That's not always the case with footwear.

"The challenges of RFID and footwear is the fact that you usually have a primary packaging and a secondary packaging," says Inge. "You have the shoe, and you have the shoe box. Then the question is always, 'What do you tag and where do you tag?'"

Inge says the tagging location and inlay choice you make should ideally hinge on business operations, targets, footwear packaging, and how products are shipped and displayed. How you ship, store, and merchandise shoes impacts where you should tag them and how 'thorough' the tagging process should be.

“Some brands have the shoes in the box on the shop floor. Some only have the shoes. The most secure way of tagging footwear is to embed the RFID inside the sole of the shoe, because then it's attached to the shoe and will never be lost.”


How will you use RFID to step up your footwear game?

"Footwear customers need to know what RFID can do, but what is very important is what's the use case they want to do," says Inge. And — as always — she's not wrong.

Today, the benefits and use cases of RFID are more understood and more advanced than they’ve ever been. The inlays you choose and the location you tag can facilitate things like product authentication or better inventory control.

Total and complete inventory control

Want to become lord and master of your own supply chain and inventory? You'll want to tag your shoebox and each shoe with RFID.

"It helps brands keep their inventory up and running because sometimes, you have a left shoe in 40 and a right shoe in 38, but you're unable to locate the other shoe. And that's where tagging both shoes with RFID could help," says Inge.

Tagging boxes can help you locate and track stock from the manufacturer to each retail destination. Tagging individual shoes helps you keep pairs together and, when using inventory management software like our ItemOptix™ for Retail, keep tabs on display shoes and stock separately. It can even tell left shoe from right! Like we said — total and complete control with nary a toe out of line.


Shoe authentication

Are your shoes so good that the secondhand market is teeming with fakes, dupes, and rip-offs? You could degrade yourself and become less iconic, but it might be easier to rely on a combo of RFID and NFC to authenticate your footwear.

Dual technology labels like our DUÉ Mini Labels use NFC technology alongside the RFID, making them easy for customers to scan with a smartphone. You can use the RFID element to help people selling pre-loved footwear legitimize their products. Why not go further? You can take a leaf out of Gucci and Nike's book and launch a buy-back/resale marketplace using the tech to authenticate your goods.


Boss display compliance and footwear merchandising

If you’re a brand that struggles to keep the shoe display in order and finishes each day with an odd number of display items (no shade, we’ve all been there), then embedding RFID into the sole of each shoe — and even the box itself — could help you replenish quickly and keep your display shoes from walking off.

Read: How RFID can unlock the power of beautiful displays

“RFID could solve some problems for footwear in retail. For example, mismatched sizes. It could help you track sizes down; it could help make sure that pairs are back together, that pairs are back in the correct box,” says Inge. “You can label both the box and the shoe with the same information, so it’s easier to identify which shoe belongs with which box.”


How to kick off your footwear RFID project

There's an easy solution to a smooth RFID footwear project: teaming up with a knowledgeable RFID tagging partner. You can go one step further and find a vertically integrated partner with the resources to guide you from planning to rollout using their own global team. We're referring to ourselves, of course.

As we've mentioned, RFID tagging footwear is a complex process, often more complicated than apparel tagging. It makes sense to work with a partner who can help you sort through your use cases, goals, and operations to help you decide what/where to tag, which RFID inlay to use, and form a rock-solid rollout plan.

Working with Checkpoint also gives you unfettered access to a portfolio of footwear-tested RFID inlays (some of which we've invented and made ourselves) to suit most use cases. We've even invented our own testing process for embedded RFID in footwear to ensure they can be installed without compromising the inlay or the shoe.


Taking the first steps on your RFID footwear tagging journey can be an exciting experience…but only when you have a knowledgeable tagging partner guiding the way.

Want to quiz us about RFID tagging, the challenges of tagging footwear, or some of the solutions available to you? Just get in touch — we’re happy to share what we know. You can visit our RFID knowledge hub to learn more about RFID or browse your options on our RFID solutions portfolio.