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The Danger for Sam's Club Suppliers
Waiting too long to become EPC-compliant will result in higher costs in the end.
Why? Because if you start now, you can integrate tagging into your operations, and into your back-end systems (The Complete Guide to Meeting Sam's Club's EPC RFID Tagging Requirements spells out various strategies for doing both). By automating the tagging process, companies greatly reduce the time and labor involved in separating inventory bound for Sam's Club and manually applying tags to a high number of individual units. They will also be able to use some of the data they receive back from Sam's Club to improve replenishment and better manage promotions.
If companies wait until the last minute, they will not have time to shop around for RFID tags and interrogators. They will have to hire additional staff to apply tags and handle separate inventory for Sam's Club, and they will not achieve any benefits from the data the tags generate. At a time when the economy is slowing, retail sales are declining and companies are being squeezed, why would any supplier want to take on additional and unnecessary costs?
My advice to suppliers is not to take a needless risk—engage Sam's Club now. Ask the retailer if it's serious about the tagging requirement, and if there is any flexibility in the deadline. If Sam's Club indicates it plans to delay the implementation, you can do nothing and sleep soundly at night.
But if Sam's Club says it's serious about the October 2009 deadline, start figuring out now how you will meet the requirements in a way that is the most cost-effective for your business, and that causes the least disruption to your operations. Learn what your options are, then evaluate systems integrators that can help you meet the requirements.
Hoping an issue will go away is not a business strategy.
Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal. If you would like to comment on this article, click on the link below. To read more of Mark's opinions, visit the RFID Journal Blog or click here.
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