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The Best Retail RFID Deployment

It's difficult to compare deployments by different retailers, but Marks & Spencer is certainly a company that others should look to emulate.
By Mark Roberti

3. No fear of being first: M&S didn't worry that they were the first major retailer to deploy RFID on all apparel and later all non-food items. Other companies seem to want to wait for others to do it, so that they won't be blasted by the press or financial analysts if the deployment doesn't succeed.

4. No fear of discussing the RFID project: M&S, like Macy's in the United States, has spoken frequently about its use of RFID. The company knows there is more value in going public about RFID than in keeping everything silent. For one thing, being open allows the RFID vendor community to understand what M&S is trying to do, and to deliver products that will enable it to achieve its goals (see Why Marks & Spencer Talks About RFID).

5. Continual innovation: M&S maintains "innovation stores" at which it tests new uses of RFID and other technologies, as well as new products, in order to determine whether or not they can deliver value across the chain. It sends executives to RFID events to learn about new products and new applications. Other companies seem to stop thinking how to use RFID after they solve their inventory accuracy problem.

6. A no-nonsense focus on the bottom line: M&S has been extremely disciplined in how they deploy RFID. The goal has been to use the technology to improve store operations and add to the bottom line. All applications are carefully tested to ensure the technology will deliver value. The company has even turned off RFID in stores to evaluate the impact of RFID.

Macy's, Lululemon, River Island and others have all done a good job with their deployments, but M&S has carried out one of the largest and most disciplined rollouts to date. I greatly admire how the company did its homework and bet on RFID only when executives were completely convinced it was a sure thing. M&S is certainly a firm that other retailers would do well to emulate when rolling out RFID.

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 the Editor's Note archive.

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