Nordstrom & Macys: RFID Tag Mandates for Suppliers

RFID is making another push into the retail market as Nordstrom implements RFID and Macys expands their RFID requirements. Nordstrom is joining other top retailers like Walmart, Target, H&M, Victoria’s Secret, Zara, Lululemon, Levi’s, Nike, and Macys in using RFID successfully for inventory control. While each of these retailers may have initially focused on a specific problem, like increasing customer experience (Nordstrom), or loss prevention (Macys), each company can expect quite a few important benefits from keeping more accurate inventory with RFID.

Nordstrom Implements RFID

Like most large retail companies, Nordstrom is starting its RFID implementation by placing tagging requirements on their suppliers. In their requirements and specifications summary, Nordstrom explains that the need for tagging these items is to ‘provide customers with the best possible experience’ as well as to ‘support better usability and more accurate, real-time view of inventory’ which are two critical components of a successful retail store. RFID tags or ‘RFID tickets’ as Nordstrom refers to them, are currently required on all items in the following categories:

  • Apparel; Women’s, Men’s, & Kid’s
  • Accessories
  • Baby Gear
  • Home & Gifts
  • Shoes: Women’s, Men’s, & Kid’s
  • Cosmetics & Grooming

The required RFID tags can be tags, labels, or stickers that are encoded with a unique EPC number in SGTIN-96 formatting with a visual printed EPC logo. These tags must also comply with GS1’s Apparel and General Merchandise Placement Standards. Each of the categories above also lists the associated Tag Specification approved by Auburn University, ensuring that each product can be affixed with the proper RFID tag for the retail environment.

One interesting rule that Nordstrom has put in place is that RFID tags/tickets cannot be printed in-house by the product manufacturer, instead all RFID tags must be printed, encoded, and purchased from a third-party company. However, in 2022 Nordstrom will allow manufacturers to submit RFID tags printed in-house to be tested and reviewed, and then will allow or deny the in-house printed labels created by that specific manufacturer. These new RFID requirements will be mandated for suppliers of the above categories for all Nordstrom, Nordstrom Rack, Nordstrom CA, and Nordstrom Rack CA.

Macys Increases RFID Mandate

While Nordstrom is beginning to implement RFID, Macys is ‘cranking up’ their RFID requirements after the rise in grab-and-go thefts seen at large retailers around the U.S. in 2021. While RFID won’t help to prevent brazen individuals from walking away with the merchandise, it will help Macy’s and the police to understand what was actually taken during a theft. In addition, with location information added to the tag or tag database, Macys can learn key data about where in the store the product was stolen from so that security measures can be added to more vulnerable locations.

“The National Retail Federation said last year that almost two-thirds (64%) of loss-prevention experts have made organized retail crime — where items are stolen to be resold — more of a priority as the number of incidents have increased.” (2)

Adding security to these vulnerable areas is part of Macys new loss prevention measures, powered by RFID. Armed with information like location and/or display-type, the stolen tagged items can tell Macy’s loss prevention experts a lot about how products are targeted, allowing these experts to create data-driven loss prevention strategies.

Macy’s first started using RFID in 2013 when they chose to ask their vendors to tag all incoming shipments of products. Since then, they have implemented RFID on the store floor, which allows the store to collect tag reads when products leave the stores thanks to ‘smart exits’ (2). In combination with all shipments being tagged, all products on the floor being tagged, ‘smart exits’, and their new loss prevention measures, Macys is using RFID to optimally manage their inventory with near real-time accuracy.


If you use RFID in your retail location, comment below and let us know how it works for your inventory! If you have any questions as well, feel free to contact us or comment below.