Two of the top competitors in the library-focused RFID and library security products arena, 3M Library Systems and Checkpoint Systems, have consolidated their efforts to produce and market products to libraries. The arrangement, announced October 29, 2007, results in melding the 3M Library Systems marketing channels with products from Checkpoint Systems. Effective the beginning of 2008, 3M Library Systems will serve as the exclusive worldwide distributor and service provider for Checkpoint's family of products oriented toward libraries.
Prior to this strategic partnership, both 3M Library Systems and Checkpoint Systems were major competitors in the growing library RFID market. This alliance effectively combines the efforts of both companies in this arena. 3M Library Systems and Checkpoint Systems will continue to develop and manufacture products and both lines will be sold and supported worldwide by 3M Library Systems.
3M Library Systems has established itself as one of the major providers of security, self checkout, and RFID products to libraries. The company has provided security, productivity, and information management solutions to the industry for more than 35 years. Its products include the Tattle-Tape security strips and detection equipment based on electromagnetic technology, self-service stations for both checkout and check-in of library materials, and many products based on RFID.
Checkpoint Systems develops security and RFID products for a variety of industries, including libraries. Checkpoint's library-oriented products include its flagship Intelligent Library System, a suite of components that provide self checkout and return of materials by library patrons, exit gate security, collection inventory, usage reports, and other functions. The company also offers the DiscMate digital media security system, and CheckPASS, a system for print management and for scheduling public access computers.
A Marketing, Sales, and Support Alliance
This strategic sales and marketing alliance gives 3M Library Systems full responsibility for the marketing and support of Checkpoint products to libraries. Checkpoint will continue to develop and manufacture products, but they will be sold exclusively by 3M. The partnership will also result in a new product developed by Checkpoint to be sold through 3M called The Library Advocate, a new Web-based library productivity software product.
3M will continue to develop, manufacture, market, and support its own products as well. This arrangement significantly expands the portfolio of products that 3M Library Systems is able to offer to libraries through its worldwide marketing channels, and the alliance gives 3M access to a larger customer base by virtue of the libraries that have already implemented Checkpoint's products.
By collaborating with 3M Library Systems, Checkpoint will continue to gain revenues from its products without the need to maintain a business unit dedicated to marketing and support. Reliance on a partner as an exclusive distributor is not an unusual arrangement for companies that develop and manufacture products.
Checkpoint Systems' presence in the library market has been in flux since October 2006. At that time the company executed a reorganization that resulted in the creation of a new Patron Services Group that effectively replaced the company's Library Systems division. In March 2007, Checkpoint Systems announced that it would expand its library RFID operations through the expansion of its Patron Services Division, taking on the efforts of the former Checkpoint Library Division. That revitalization of its library focused marketing was apparently short lived and evidently is superseded by the alliance with 3M Library Systems.
Checkpoint Systems also stands among the large group of companies with accounting difficulties. In March 2007, the company issued a restatement of its earnings that reflected a reduction in earnings of $1.9 million for the first three quarters of 2006 and $2.9 million for 2005. These restatements of earnings provide strong incentives to reduce operating costs moving forward.
Other Players in the Library RFID Marketplace A number of other companies offer RFID and self-check products to libraries in addition to 3M Library Systems and Checkpoint. Other major competitors in the field include Bibliotheca RFID Library Systems, Tags ys, Sentry Technology Corporation, and Tech Logic.
Bibliotheca RFID Library Systems, based in Switzerland, develops and markets products based on its BiblioChip System that perform both self-check and security functions. This company focuses exclusively on products for libraries and stands as the leading provider of RFID products to libraries in Europe.
Sentry Technology Corporation entered the library RFID market through its 2004 acquisition of ID Systems and offers the QuickCheck patron self-service stations.
Tech Logic Solutions, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Library Corporation, offers RFID and automatic material handling systems for libraries.
TAGSYS RFID is a major manufacturer of RFID tags and related infrastructure equipment. The company markets its products to libraries both directly and through distributors which currently include SirsiDynix and VTLS. VTLS, while it depends of TAGSYS RFID tags and components, has developed its own software and self check stations.
While this strategic agreement between Checkpoint Systems and 3M Library Systems consolidates the efforts of the two companies into one, it does not necessarily involve a narrowing of product options available to libraries. While it would not be surprising to see some paring of duplicative products in the future, the initial terms of the alliance involve the products of both companies moving forward. While the number of competitors in the library RFID arena is fairly small, the melding of these two companies' efforts represents only a moderate shift in the overall landscape.