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Insider's BLOG from the RFID Experts

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What do RFID Tags Cost?

  
  
  
  

Up until this year, RFID tag cost was our most frequent inquiry from end users.  While it has now slipped behind questions related to tag performance and RFID software, it is still among the most requested information.  Today ODIN released its second annual RFID Tag Pricing Guide™ and it's a free download.

Published RFID Tag Costs Unchanged in 2010...mostly 

Dogbone RFID Tag UPM Raflatac

If you automatically expect tag prices to fall every year you may be surprised that 2010 was a remarkable year of price stability.  Label tags common among suppliers to Walmart and the U.S. Department of Defense were virtually unchanged across our the vendors surveyed (see table).  Specialty RFID tags by contrast saw some published price increases despite the fact that rabid discounting has caused actual tag costs for many of these metal mount tags to fall.  

QtyLowHighAverage 2010Average 2009Trend
10k $0.12 $0.18 $0.1488 $0.1510 ↓ 1.46%
100k $0.11 $0.14 $0.1235 $0.1235 ↔ No Change

Some tag price examples from the RFID Tag Pricing Guide are included in the table above.  You can see how small quantities of label tags actually fell by a small factor while a mid-range order of 100,000 tags remained unchanged.  Pricing changes for 1 million quantity orders is included in the guide which is free to our readers.  It also includes details on specialty metal mount tag pricing trends.

The Recession and Increased RFID Tag Demand

Omni-ID RFID TagsA number of factors influenced RFID tag pricing in 2010 but the most notable were the impacts of the recession and increased demand.  

The recessionary environment in 2008-2009 led many companies to cut back on capacity for tag conversion and even upstream for tag silicon production.  As demand for tags came back and global demand for silicon chips grew faster than expected, there were two forces moving tag supply toward scarcity.  This led to significant RFID tag supply chain shipment delays and capacity constraints as reported in our August blog.  

Demand growth for RFID tags was driven in part by Walmart's apparel tagging initiative. This program alone increased the expected RFID tag growth rate for the industry by at least 3x.  To compound matters, tag demand growth exceeded manufacturer expectations in other sectors ranging from IT assets to orthopedic implants. We saw similar demand in RFID Software and readers.

The increase in demand and shortages of key tag components conspired to sustain year over year tag prices.  The changes in actual prices paid since 2009 are statistically insignificant with the exception of small form factor metal mount tags which actually saw significant price declines in 2010.    

alien squiggle rfid tag

Implications for 2011 Tag Pricing

The one thing that seems clear is that most tag producers expect 2010 to be a record year in terms of unit volume and revenue. We see this as a good sign that the industry is hitting profitability and an indicator that RFID tag producers are likely to get aggressive in tag pricing again in 2011 as they try to build market share.   

The 2010 RFID Tag Pricing Guide™ focuses on UHF passive RFID tag cost.  To read the full discussion download the 13 page report.

If you have any questions about RFID software, RFID readers, or Learning about RFID drop us a line.

Also, join the discussion and leave a comment.  Did you experience tag shipment delays this year?  Did you see tag prices drop, hold steady or increase in 2010?

Comments

Does the fact that Avery Dennison is claiming $1B in RFID sales in the next year or two have an effect on the pricing of future tags? Is it possible to lock in tag pricing for long term buys now to prevent fluctuations?
Posted @ Tuesday, September 28, 2010 9:38 AM by Rick Blaine
Great question Rick. The report in the Wall Street Journal last week did suggest that Avery will do about $50 million this year in tag revenue and grow over time to $1 billion. This is one trend that will unambiguously drive down tag costs and we expect Avery to be aggressive in leading the price decline.  
 
In the interim, our experience is that you can secure lower tag prices by committing to large volumes over multiple years. These long-term contracts allow tag producers to better plan for overhead and offer much better pricing today. ODIN recently negotiated a 20% discount for an RFID tag order for 10's of millions of tags over several years.
Posted @ Tuesday, September 28, 2010 9:52 AM by Bret Kinsella
As a newly entered group into RFID Tag/Label/Ticket manufacturing, what should be the best to go for; going for sub-contract manufacturing or connecting to direct buyers like ODIN ?
Posted @ Wednesday, November 24, 2010 12:39 AM by Mrigank
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