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Four Lessons of the Wal-Mart Mandate

Modern Materials Handling has an article this week on what has thus far been learned from the Wal-Mart mandate, considered the catalyzing event for the RFID industry as it exists today, almost two years after its initial announcement.
Jul 21, 2005This article was originally published by RFID Update.

July 21, 2005—Modern Materials Handling has an article this week on what has thusfar been learned from the Wal-Mart mandate, considered the catalyzing event for the RFID industry as it exists today, almost two years after its initial announcement. While the mandate's long-term effect on RFID is impossible yet to predict, says the article, "it may prove to be as important a step as the first bar code scan in an Ohio grocery store in the 1970's."

The article lists four lessons learned as of July 2005, seven months after the mandate's January 1st deadline passed:
  1. Despite widely reported complaints of RFID's lacking reliability and general imperfection, it does work as it is supposed to. The problem is not the technology's shortcomings; it is the unrealistically high expectations of performance. Director of RFID Solutions and Strategy for Manhattan Associates, Greg Gilbert, is quoted as saying, "Our biggest fear was that between the hype, hyperbole and misconceptions, people were expecting RFID to do things it can't do."
  2. Given that RFID is still relatively immature and finicky, it is important to define "goals and expectations" when embarking on an RFID deployment. Like any ambitious project, a deployment must be organized and tackled in pieces. Working towards an open-ended, loosely-defined "RFID deployment" will be a frustrated effort.
  3. RFID is hard, plain and simple. It is a complex technology, and every implementation is unique, so those shopping for RFID products and services should be wary of promises of simplicity. As ThingMagic's Kevin Ashton says, "RFID is not an out-of-the-box technology and it won't be until there are more deployments and more investment in research and development."
  4. Lastly, it's clear that RFID is here to stay for Wal-Mart suppliers. It's no "one-time experiment." Alien Technology's Patrick Ervin, Vice President of Business Development for the Retail Supply Chain Vertical, said "It's clear that Wal-Mart is more committed than ever. They're going to another 200 vendors. They're adding store sites and they're increasing the number of SKUs that they're tagging. They have a large investment and they're not backing off."


Read the full article at Modern Materials Handling
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