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Déjà Vu All Over Again
As they did with Wal-Mart, many suppliers are assuming Sam's Club will back off its EPC tagging requirements.
And many of the products sent to Sam's Club are easier to tag than those sent to Wal-Mart. That's because bulk packaging usually provides more space to place a tag, and more air gaps that make that tag easier to read. This means Sam's suppliers will spend less time dealing with the physics of RFID, trying to ensure the tag can be read.
The biggest challenge Sam's Club suppliers face involves tagging high volumes of products. You can't take a manual approach to that, because the labor costs are just too high. And if you sell many SKUs, the complexity of tagging all of them becomes too much to manage manually. But automating the tagging as part of a high-volume production operation has its own challenges.
If Sam's Club does provide additional time for suppliers to begin tagging sellable units, companies would be wise to use that time to devise a smart strategy for tagging in the most cost-effective way. The editors of RFID Journal have been working on a guide to doing just that. We'll lay out the options and show suppliers what they need to do, but doing it will still take time (and, yes, money).
I don't believe Sam's Club launched its EPC strategy on a whim. The retailer knows there are significant benefits to tagging sellable units, and I wouldn't bet against them.
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 click here.
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