Wal-Mart has announced that it will require its top 100 suppliers to begin using RFID technology at the case and pallet level by January 2005. Linda Dillman, senior vice president and chief information officer for the company, made the announcement at the recent Retail Systems 2003 trade show.
“The suppliers will need to attach RF tags to cases and pallets of goods that they ship out to Wal-Mart, and have the systems infrastructure ready to start tracking those goods through the supply chain,” says Ian Gordon, Institutional Research Associate for investment research company Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.
In addition to inventory control, Gordon says, the company expects “to start tagging specialized, high-value or high-theft items in 2006 or so.” These high-end products include pharmaceuticals and jewelry, items that would justify the current 30 cents-a-piece price tag.
Most industry experts believe that widespread RFID implementation at the individual product level will not be possible until the tag reaches a cost of five cents per tag. Still, Wal-Mart’s announcement has large implications for the RFID industry.
“I’m glad to see a major player commit to this technology,” says Bob Zaccone, VP and co-owner of Graphic Solutions Inc., in Burr Ridge, IL. “The industry needs to walk before it can run. The case and pallet approach to start with is the way to go. It’s what the industry needs.”
As far as the impact it has on the narrow web community, “It affects the smart converters will