Dick's Sporting Goods RFID Mandates

How to Meet Dick’s Sporting Goods RFID Mandates

Dick’s Sporting Goods, following many other large retailers, recently required that as of January 1, 2024, suppliers must provide RFID tagging for most items they sell at their stores. Suppliers must conform to the GS1 EPC Tag Data Standard, GS1 tag placement standard, and the Auburn University ARC inlay standard. Products must be tagged correctly before they arrive at the stores.

Here are a few of the product categories that must comply by January 1, 2024:

  • Sports
  • Athletic footwear
  • Outdoor footwear
  • Athletic apparel
  • Golf apparel
  • Sunglasses
  • Electronics

If you are or want to be a supplier to Dick’s Sporting Goods or other large retailers, and complying sounds overwhelming, read on. We’ll give you some information to get you started. It’s a complex journey, but you don’t have to take it alone.

You can count on us to help you forward your business. MSM is one of the leading barcode and RFID integrators, and we help suppliers meet requirements for retail outlets such as Dick’s Sporting Goods, JCPenney, Dillard’s, and Walmart.

What is ARC?

The ARC program at Auburn University aims to ensure that RFID tags perform correctly, consistently, and cost-effectively and provide the intended benefits. To do this, ARC maintains a database with performance and quality information so end users can validate their use cases. ARC also evaluates the performance of Inlay manufacturers’ products before they’re available on the market.

ARC serves a range of industries. It is critical to determine your proper category before proceeding so you follow the correct inlay requirements.

What Do the Tagging Requirements Look Like?

Dick’s Sporting Goods has specific tagging requirements suppliers must follow before the retailer will accept the products for sale. Suppliers must provide samples to the ARC RFID Lab before shipping anything to a retailer. There is much more to it, but read on for a few basics.


Each item should have only one tag and inlay stickers must be affixed to the packaging in a way that does not cover images or text. Ensure the inlay is intact without folds, staples, etc., or it will not work. You may sew in the tags if they are easily removable. Avoid anything metallic, such as ink, foil, or holograms near an RFID tag.

EPC Symbol

An Electronic Product Code (EPC) indicates that a tag contains RFID. Make sure that all items with an RFID tag also have an EPC. An EPC code should not be attached to anything that does not have an RFID inlay.


Each tagged item must have a unique serial number to aid in item-level tracking. Maintaining proper serialization without duplicates using the GS1 SGTIN-96 encoding standard is critical to avoid confusion.

ARC Lab Approval

For Dick’s Sporting Goods to accept your tagged products, the ARC RFID lab must first approve them. The ARC lab requires that you submit five EPC tag samples for evaluation.

Item-Level Tagging

It’s no longer enough to tag a case or lot of a product. Each item must be tagged individually with a unique identifier. When you establish item-level tagging to meet the level of tracking that retail outlets, ARC, and GS1 require, you get the bonus of visibility into your entire supply chain for better inventory management overall.

How Will You Print & Encode?

The two basic printing and encoding methods are in-house and service bureau. Each business is unique, so which you choose depends on the needs of your operation.

MSM has helped global brand owners design and implement highly efficient in-house printing operations. We evaluate your plant and create a solution that combines quality hardware, custom software, and years of experience to deliver a highly effective in-house printing solution.


You will need to make sure the tags you print in-house are rendering the UPCs and EPCs correctly. You can use a mobile reader for that purpose.

We’re Here for You

You don’t have to go into the complex world of RFID mandates alone. MSM Solutions has the knowledge, equipment, software, and standards knowledge to guide you safely into your next growth phase. If that means targeting large retail outlets, we can help you meet the required standards.

Contact us and explain what you want to accomplish. We’re good listeners and have solutions for simple and complex RFID needs.  

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