RFID Adoption in Retail – Are We There Yet?
RetailDIVE contributing editor Mark O’Shea discusses recent comments from the Journal of Retail Analytics at Northwestern University’s Retail Analytics Council about RFID adoption in stores. It was noted by a former CIO of Lululemon Athletica that, “…a stumbling block to broad implementation of RFID can come from not getting buy-in from the functional groups throughout a retail organization and supply chain. Also, having the in-store operational aspects of it very well understood and communicated, and then having associates trained to the point where they view it as a benefit to what they do day to day closes the circle in terms of sponsorship and buy-in for a successful rollout.”
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In a similar article, Supply Chain Digest interviewed three key retail executives about RFID adoption, benefits and challenges. A supply chain executive at Target noted, “Our interest in RFID initially was in ensuring that we could have more accurate count integrity of our inventory throughout our network. You can imagine that in a big box retail store with 85,000 items in each store, count integrity can be quite challenging, particularly when you’re turning inventory quickly. That’s especially true in categories where you have product that gets misplaced, broken, or stolen.” But, he said, as they analyzed that business case and ultimately deployed RFID in-store, other benefits were identified. For example, using RFID greatly enhanced Target’s ability to pick product quickly for ship-from-store and pick up-in-store offerings.
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In recent comments from RFID Journal, the technology may be reaching a tipping point. According to a leading industry expert, there was a 39 percent increase in the number of retailers doing something with RFID in 2017, over 2016. That led to a 29 percent increase in the number of apparel retailers launching proofs-of-concept. “There was a huge jump this year in the number of retailers that are deploying,” he stated, “versus last year.” Market research indicates that some 8.5 billion passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags will be used on apparel items this year, but that is still only a fraction of the total number of apparel items sold each year.
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