E-commerce consumers want end-to-end visibility when ordering online, certainly when the item is shipped internationally. Therefore, posts should be able to offer a reliable tracking solution for low-cost cross-border e-commerce items. Many posts have already invested in passive RFID infrastructure in their operations. With little to no additional investment, they can link up to a cross-border RFID tracking network and offer low-cost tracking for items for which there is currently no tracking information. 

How does it work?

IPC has developed the IT systems to create, capture, classify, manage and report RFID events for low-cost e-commerce item tracking purposes. IPC’s RFID Tracking Service provide service support and management for posts using the passive RFID technology infrastructure. This network uses existing technology and replaces – where possible – barcode scanning activities by postal staff.

IPC supports posts with commercial RFID-tagged products, as well as several other posts participating in the RFID network and/or considering commercial roll-out of this service within their markets. Participating posts can offer the low-cost tracking solutions to e-retailers in their market. E-retailers can purchase RFID tags from the post to attach to their shipments.

Integrated into postal operations

A passive RFID tag is initiated by the e-retailer and the first registration is recorded in IPC’s RFID system database. Once a tag has been activated, it is attached to an e-commerce packet by the staff of the e-seller. The e-commerce packet with passive RFID tag travels through the untracked operational flow.

Passive RFID gates at key locations within the post’s operational process (including transport and hand-over to other partners) generate RFID reads. 

Reliable and accessible data

The reliability of the tracking data is ensured through the system by filtering duplicate RFID reads and unwanted data. Moreover, RFID reads are centrally evaluated against clearly defined business rules and events are matched to the appropriate item. 

All data is stored in IPC’s Central Data Store and is available to all users. Customers, e-seller staff or postal experts can consult and connect with the tracking tools via an interface where they can see last location of the item and its current status in the postal operational flow.

Currently several posts are using the RFID Tracking Service for e-commerce packets item tracking, either with no other tracking information or in combination with barcode scanning. In the latter case, the purpose is to replace barcode scanning activities by postal staff on tracked items where possible. 

RFID Tracking flow

Services offered to posts

The RFID Tracking Services team offers the following services and activities:

  • Customer support for posts with commercial products based on the IPC RFID Tracking Service
  • Specific support and assistance to posts considering to introduce commercial products based on the IPC RFID Tracking Service
  • RFID Network Monitoring Performance programme: read rates of live items and flows through the RFID infrastructure are monitored
  • Monthly reporting: an overview of all RFID events by postal operator as well as breakdown per outbound and inbound post
  • Red Flow investigation: monthly follow-up on all flows with read rate below 95%, including the follow-up of the action plans to improve read rate levels with posts
  • Design and set-up of pilots for new flows or tracking solutions
  • RFID Services Monitoring Committee: posts participating in the service meet at least four times per year for a follow-up on RFID services and to discuss RFID tracking aspects

Benefits

The IPC RFID Tracking Service bring benefits for posts and their customers (e-retailers): 

  • Tracking information is available (to e-sellers and posts) for  packets without the use of a barcode
  • Posts can offer a low-cost tracking solution to their customers 
  • Barcode scanning can be replaced where possible for e-commerce items; postal staff have fewer items to scan
  • Continuous support before, during and after roll-out of low-cost RFID tracking solution, thereby making the process easier
  • Easy access to tracking data
  • Regular monitoring and reporting of the service performance, allowing participating posts to closely monitor performance of the RFID infrastructure

More information

Contact the Tracking team at rfidtrackingteam@ipc.be

Deutsche Post

Deutsche Post

Click here for more information about Deutsche Post's RFID tracking solution.
Swiss Post

Swiss Post

Click here for more information about Swiss Post's RFID tracking solution.