Data is the Cure for What’s Ailing the Supply Chain

With a seismic shift to online purchasing, consumers want to get what they want and when they expect it.

Guest Commentary, Guest Commentary

May 27, 2021

4 Min Read
Credit: leowolfert via Adobe Stock

The supply chain is in pain, and data can provide a cure. COVID accelerated the way consumers want to buy goods, and it has stretched supply chains nearly to their breaking point. With a seismic shift to online purchasing, consumers want to get what they want and when they expect it.

With the shift in purchasing in 2021, 20% to 25% of goods are now bought online. That percentage will continue to rise, placing continuous pressure on supply chains to meet the rising demands of accelerated last-mile delivery. Also, consumers have grown accustomed to their deliveries being made in much smaller windows of time. Consumers expect that their purchases will show up on their doorsteps within a day and even the same day.

The solution to repairing and rebuilding the supply chain to meet this new reality must focus on data:

  • Collection of meaningful data at every point along the supply chain

  • Storage of data in the cloud

  • Access to data for all executives and employees from manufacturing to distribution to delivery

The RFID Data Solution

A radio-frequency identity (RFID) solution enables data collection, storage, and access that ultimately provides end-to-end supply chain transparency.

Supply chain leaders are finding that by adopting a total RFID solution, they can optimize supply chains and provide end-to-end transparency for each parcel: its location, its contents, its destination and when it is expected. Automated data-driven approaches in the supply chain are essential to keeping goods moving quickly and accurately. 

From manufacturing to end destination, RFID is taking on a more prominent role, ultimately enabling supply chains to meet the rising demands of e-commerce and the shift from B2B to direct-to-consumer fulfillment.

RFID as a solution optimizes infrastructure and human resources:

  • A total RFID solution has the capability to maintain intelligence as well as interpret it throughout the supply chain. 

  • RFID can enable additional functionalities throughout the supply chain -- specifically intelligent automated sorting in the “last mile.” 

  • Data derived through a RFID solution drives accuracy. Accuracy is essential because merchants can’t afford to send the wrong thing to the wrong person.

By fully automating the movement of goods, an RFID solution offers a new level of automation that goes way beyond the conveyer belt.

Human resources previously allocated to manual sorting and loading tasks can be trained for areas that create a value zone that is more reliant on utilizing data to optimize truck loads and routing processes.

RFID and Intelligent Sorting

RFID can play an even larger role by providing the capability for intelligent sorting.

In fact, the fundamental element for intelligent sorting is having meaningful data enabled by RFID at the parcel level, partnered with artificial intelligence (AI). 

Applying RFID technology to intelligent sorting is the next iteration of a total RFID solution. The flexible capability offered by RFID and intelligent sorting in last mile fulfilment will allow an increasing volume of parcels to be routed faster and more accurately. 

Data Drives Sustainability

The data generated through an end-to-end RFID solution provides an additional key benefit: sustainability.

Fact: As the decade progresses, there will be increasing pressure on companies to help achieve global climate goals, while meeting increased consumer demands. According to a recent report from McKinsey, “consumer companies will have to greatly reduce the natural and social costs of their products and services to capitalize on rising demand for them without taxing the environment or human welfare.”

Because data captured through an RFID solution is utilized to increase the velocity of moving goods onto trucks, it can also be used to configure and optimize space on the truck according to the most efficient route to the destination of packages. Aggregating the data enables movement of packages along the most efficient route.

Accurately boxed and shipped packages results in fewer trucks on the road and fewer airplanes in the air. Simply stated, the carbon footprint is minimized through data: simply by knowing what you have, and in what order you should be delivering it.

The cure for what is ailing the supply chain is data. A total RFID solution enables the collection, storage, and automation of data at each point along the supply chain, resulting in end-to-end transparency and optimization. As consumers continue to demand more, RFID will enable supply chains to deliver.


Ryan Yost is vice president/general manager for the Printer Solutions Division (PSD) for Avery Dennison Corporation. In his role, he is responsible for worldwide leadership of and strategy for the Printer Solutions Division, focused on building partnerships and solutions within the Food, Apparel and Fulfillment industries.

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