Diversified Labeling Solutions

RFID Retail Mandate Header Image - Coats with RFID Labels


A Supplier's Ultimate Guide



If your customers supply products to major retailers, you may have encountered the growing requirement to implement RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) tagging on their items. Retailer RFID mandates are becoming increasingly common, and it's crucial to understand the basics to help ensure compliance for your customers. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the essential steps to comply with retailer RFID mandates.

 Step 1: Assess Retailer Requirements

Before diving into RFID implementation, check if multiple retailers have similar RFID requirements. Ideally, you want to use a single RFID label that meets the criteria of all the retailers your customers sell to.


Retailer mandates usually share common elements, allowing for streamlined compliance efforts. Retailers should provide documentation outlining their specific RFID requirements, including:

  • Acceptable label dimensions
  • Acceptable label materials (facestock, adhesive, etc.)
  • Acceptable RFID "inlays" by product type
  • Information and barcode(s) to be printed on the label
  • The RFID "Encoding Scheme" to use (typically GS1's "SGTIN-96")
  • Requirement to "Permalock" encodings
  • Label placement guidelines
  • Label approval process


For any missing or unclear information, reach out to the retailer's point of contact for clarification.


 Step 2: Start with One Product Type

RFID mandate product categories

Retailer mandates are typically categorized by product types or terms like "department" or "category." Your customers can begin by focusing on one specific product type to understand the process thoroughly. Once they have a grasp of the requirements, it is easier to replicate the process for other product types covered by the mandate.

 Step 3: Source and Encode Sample Labels

Whether your customers choose to source pre-printed and encoded labels from a Service Bureau like DLS or print and encode them in-house, ensure that the labels meet the physical requirements specified by the retailer. Use software like BarTender, NiceLabel, or CODESOFT with an RFID printer to design, print, and encode sample labels for internal review.


Three key considerations when encoding RFID tags:

  • Use the proper numbering system (SGTIN-96 is commonly used).
  • Ensure each serial number generated is unique.
  • Permalock the encodings to prevent data tampering.

formatting and encoding RFID labels

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 Step 4: Verify Encodings

After printing and encoding the labels, it is important to verify that the data is correctly formatted and matches the corresponding UPC/EAN number. Use an RFID reader to check the hexadecimal values, then decode them using GS1's online decoder tool for confirmation.

 Step 5: Seek Retailer Approval

RFID Auburn University lab

Your customers will need to follow their retailer's documented approval process, which may include submitting sample tags and photos of label placement on products. Retailers will provide step-by-step guidelines for this stage.

 Help Your Customers Meet Retail RFID Mandates with DLS

As a supplier, understanding what your customers will need to comply with retailer RFID mandates is crucial for maintaining your business relationships and staying competitive. This guide has outlined the key steps to help you navigate this evolving landscape successfully. You can also lean on the RFID printing and labeling experts at DLS. We can help you with:

stock rfid labels from DLS

Stock RFID Labels

To make it easier for your customers to implement RFID labeling, we offer stock RFID labels in a variety of the most popular sizes.


Learn more about Stock RFID Labels

service bureau RFID label printing and encoding services

Service Bureau Printing / Encoding 

With DLS’ service bureau option, you can provide the properly formatted and printed labels your customers need – when they need them.


Learn more about Service Bureau Printing/Encoding

TSC Printronix Auto ID RFID printers

RFID Printers/Encoders

RFID printers from TSC Printronix Auto ID offer solutions for a wide range of applications from enterprise-level desktop printers to high-volume industrial printers.

Learn more about RFID printers

RFID Label Training

RFID Label Training

Our team of experts provides exceptional sales support through RFID label training, either online, or in person.


Request RFID Label Training