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Retailers Recognize the Problem—Not the Solution, Part 2

A study conducted by Retail Systems Research indicates that retailers see the value of visibility, but don't recognize that RFID can deliver it.
By Mark Roberti
The authors asked retailers about a variety of technologies, including whether they see a lot of value in these technologies, are rolling them out or are evaluating them. A full 86 percent saw great value in "cross-channel inventory optimization," while 83 percent said they saw a lot of value in "enterprise-wide inventory visibility."

These seem more like concepts than technologies. You might be able to buy software that allows you to optimize inventory across all of your channels, providing information about inventory throughout the enterprise. But the question is this: How do you get good data into the software? You can't deploy an army of people to scan bar codes on individual items each time they move from the DC to the back of the store, to the front of the store and to the point of sale.

The shocking part of the report is that while RFID can provide the visibility retailers know they need, only 3 percent are rolling out item-level RFID systems. About a quarter of survey respondents said they are evaluating the technology or have budgeted for a rollout. While it is disappointing that so few retailers recognize the value of item-level RFID, what is encouraging is that they recognize the value of having visibility. Hopefully, they'll learn from some of the successful deployments currently under way that RFID equals enterprise-wide inventory visibility.

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, the Editor's Note archive or RFID Connect.

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