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RFID's Impact at Wal-Mart Greater Than Expected
Early estimates of RFID's ability to lower out-of-stocks were too low, according to the University of Arkansas.
May 04, 2006—Early estimates that pegged the impact of EPC radio frequency identification tags in cutting out-of-stocks (OOS) at Wal-Mart at 16 percent were too low, according to the University of Arkansas. Researchers at the university carried out an independent study and announced initial results in October 2005, concluding with the 16 percent figure.
"That 16 percent you have heard so much about—it was a conservative estimate," said Bill Hardgrave, director of the university's RFID Research Center. "Now, by looking at the velocity of sales, or how many units are sold per day, we can see where EPC is making a difference." At a session at the RFID Journal LIVE! conference in Las Vegas this week, Hardgrave presented an updated report on the impact of tracking cases of goods with RFID tags carrying Electronic Product Codes (EPCs).
EPC Reduces Out-of-Stocks at Wal-Mart).
Further analysis of the data, however, has since revealed which areas and products can deliver the most positive results of bringing down out-of-stocks caused by poor inventory management within a store. Retail-industry studies estimate that in-store inefficiencies contribute 25 percent of out-of-stock situations, with total OOS rates in retail stores representing 8 percent of merchandise.
The new analysis found no improvement using RFID on slow-moving items selling at an average rate of 0.1 units per day. However, for those selling at a rate of 0.1 to 2 units a day, the use of RFID reduced out-of-stocks by 32 percent. The greatest benefit, however, came from goods that sold 6 to 15 units a day. For such items, the data showed a 62 percent decrease in out-of-stocks. Despite this, the highest-volume sales items—which sold at a rate of more than 15 units daily—also saw no improvement in product availability from using RFID.
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