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Metro Expanding Use of RFID, for Both Pallets and Cases

The retailer says it is seeing positive results across its various RFID initiatives, and it plans expansions in 2008.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Gerd Wolfram, the managing director of MGI Metro Group Information Technology, says the retailer is using RFID inlays containing NXP Semiconductors' Ucode G2XL chip, which is compliant with the EPC Gen 2 standard. He says Metro selected the chip based on results of comparative tests it conducted at the European EPC Competence Center (EECC), a lab established by Metro and GS1 Germany (see European EPC Competence Center Releases UHF Tag Study).

"The NXP Ucode G2XL chip is a very capable chip, especially in terms of responding if placed on difficult materials," says Wolfram. "This makes it really interesting for our case-level trial because there we often have to deal with challenging placements of transponders—i.e., on metal packages or on a box that sits in the middle of a mixed pallet."

For its case-level pilot, Metro is contract with a network of label converters that embed Gen 2 RFID inlays, containing the G2XL chip, into shipping labels. However, Wolfram says that for Metro suppliers that attach RFID labels to pallets, the retailer does not mandate which EPC Gen 2 chip to use.

Additionally, Metro is running a pilot project to test the use of RFID tags at the item level, using its men's apparel department of a Galeria Kaufhof store in Essen, Germany (see Metro Group's Galeria Kaufhof Launches UHF Item-Level Pilot). The test began in September 2007 and is set to last until the end of 2008, at which time the company will perform customer surveys to collect feedback and also develop case studies on the results. In January, Wolfram said the tests were off to a good start, and that customers showed some interest in the customer-facing facets of the test, such as an RFID-enabled mirror that displays product information about RFID-tagged clothing tried on inside dressing rooms in the store.

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