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Wal-Mart, Best Buy Spearhead DVD-Tagging Pilot

The retailers, along with other EPCglobal members from the media and entertainment industry, are testing RFID's ability to provide visibility into where items are located, when they were placed there and when more need to be ordered.
By Claire Swedberg
Sep 28, 2007Wal-Mart, Best Buy and other members of EPCglobal's Media and Entertainment Industry Interest Group are conducting an item-level DVD-tagging pilot with EPC RFID tags to help ensure that DVDs are in stock and available on the store floor at the proper time.

Participants in the pilot consist of media and entertainment companies throughout the supply chain, including production studios, replicators, distributors and retailers. Upon completion of the eight-week pilot, the participants hope to have gained enough information to move toward a broader deployment of item-level RFID tags.

Gay Whitney
The industry members hope RFID will afford them greater visibility into where the products are located, as well as when they were placed there and when the time comes to order more inventory. In addition, they hope the technology will help prevent titles from running out of stock. "It can help us ensure that we have product on the store shelves when customers need them," says Wal-Mart spokesperson John Simley.

During the pilot, which began on Sept. 26, participants are attaching EPC Gen 2 RFID labels to about 12,000 DVDs of 15 movie titles. The DVDs are being provided by 20th Century Fox, Cinram International, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Technicolor and Warner Home Video. Each RFID label features an EPCglobal logo, along with text explaining the technology's use for consumers.

DVD replicators use fixed RFID interrogators to capture the unique ID number of each label. Data related to a particular DVD is stored in the participants' back-end systems—using a data repository based on EPCglobal's Electronic Product Code Information Services (EPCIS) standard—to share that information with other pilot participants.

The product is then shipped to a distributor, such as Handleman Co., or directly to a retailer. Wal-Mart and Best Buy, as well as an unnamed national retail chain, receive the DVDs and capture another read of their RFID labels before they are loaded into the stores' back rooms.

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