Japanese publisher Shogakukan Inc. implements RFID solution using UPM Raflatac tags to reduce return ratios and waste

(UPM Raflatac, Tampere, 4 December 2008 at 10:00) - Japanese publisher Shogakukan Inc. has implemented RFID technology in its operations to substantially reduce the return ratio of unsold books. A reduction in waste volumes was also critical. Shogakukan estimates that annual financial losses in Japan would exceed USD 1.5 billion if some 25% of returned books were disposed of as waste. The RFID implementation has also had a marked affect on distribution accuracy.

Shogakukan has tagged its recently published Home Medical Dictionaries with UPM Raflatac’s Crab inlays. The complete solution has been developed by Suuri-Keikaku Co. Ltd.

Shogakukan itself has developed a binary sales system which it uses for RFID-tagged books. The aim is to motivate bookstores to better plan their purchasing operations by offering two alternative sales systems. Bookstores can choose consignment sales, where unsold books can be returned to publishers without expense. With the non-consignment option the margin offered to bookstores is higher but returning unsold books to publisher means additional costs. Data concerning the choice of sales system is written to the RFID tags.

With the data-carrying RFID tags, the system is easily manageable. Human error is eliminated by automating the data processing and logistics related operations.

“Shogakukan is an excellent example in its use of ultra-high frequency RFID tags to improve logistics in the book industry. The benefits are very concrete, which is why similar projects are currently under implementation worldwide. Various successful roll-outs are showing clear ROI values in the short-term,” says Mikko Nikkanen, Business Development Director, UPM Raflatac, RFID.

Shogakukan reports that the new RFID-assisted sales system has been accepted by bookstores with good results. In the beginning stage, 50,000 copies of Shogakukan’s Home Medical Dictionaries were sold through non-consignment sales. Total sales reached about 70,000 copies.

“Book clubs making direct monthly book deliveries have good potential to enjoy the benefits of a full RFID implementation. Customer return rates can rise above 20%, and high efficiency for returns in the supply chain is crucial. UPM Raflatac has channelled significant resources into the development of UHF products suitable for applications of this kind,” Nikkanen concludes.

For further information, please contact:
Mr Mikko Nikkanen, Business Development Director, RFID, UPM Raflatac, tel. +1 828 275 5162
Mr Yutaka Okano, Suuri-Keikaku Co., Ltd., okano@sur.co.jp.

About UPM Raflatac
UPM Raflatac, part of UPM's Engineered Materials business group, is one of the world’s leading suppliers of self-adhesive label materials and the world’s number one producer of HF and UHF radio frequency identification (RFID) tags and inlays. UPM Raflatac has a global service network consisting of 14 factories on five continents and a broad network of sales offices and slitting and distribution terminals worldwide. UPM Raflatac employs 2,700 people and made sales of approximately EUR 1 billion (USD 1.4 billion) in 2007. Further information is available at www.upmraflatac.com.

About Shogakukan Inc.
Shogakukan Inc., founded in 1922, began by launching learning magazines targeting elementary school children. Currently, while expanding from children’s magazines to the general magazine field, Shogakukan has also become a general publishing company with a book division that releases picture books, pictorial guides, dictionaries, encyclopaedias and literary works, etc. The business operations of the company consist of magazine and book publication including 64 magazines, 9,200 books, 13,900 comics, 850 mooks and 4,000 videos and DVDs (as of 2007).

About Suuri-Keikaku Co., Ltd.
Suuri-Keikaku is an information system company and a member of the Hitotsubashi group of publishing companies, which comprises Shogakukan, Shueisha and other related publishers in the Hitotsubashi area of Tokyo. Suuri-Keikaku develops and manages publishing information systems and computer systems in other fields. Suuri-Keikaku also supplies consulting services for environmental issues such as climate change.