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Word Is Getting Out About RFID in Retail

Forbes, CNN, and many newspapers and business journals are covering deployments at Macy's and J.C. Penney, showing that the mainstream media finally understands the technology's value.
By Mark Roberti
Jul 23, 2012There's an old philosophical thought experiment that asks, "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" Similarly, many in the radio frequency identification industry have been wondering, "If a retailer deploys RFID and gets a lot of benefit, but no one knows about it, does it change anything?"

I don't know the answer to the second question (the first answer, you might be surprised to hear, is "no"), but I do know that businesspeople outside of RFID Journal's knowledgeable readership are starting to hear about the benefits of RFID in retail. Recently, Forbes wrote an article titled "Macy's Wins With Technology."

The Forbes article discusses the use of RFID in the Macy's Herald Square store, which is getting a $400 million facelift: "[RFID] is going to be up and running this fall when the new 63,000-square-foot shoe department opens in the Macy's Herald Square store... The first phase launches in August 2012 with 300,000 pairs of shoes for sale on any given day. RFID will make it much easier to track such a large quantity of shoes and, importantly, make it possible to serve the customer faster and more efficiently."

The article explains that after shoes, Macy's plans to tag basic items that always require replenishment, as opposed to fashion items that are sold and never replenished: "About one third of the full replenishment assortment at Macy's will be on RFID," the author writes. "As a result, merchandise in stock levels will rise and customers will be happier. For example, in shoes, inventory will be monitored by size, width and color, and eventually, polo shirts will be monitored by color and size. The cost of RFID technology and the chips on each garment have come down dramatically in price, making it possible for Macy's to take this first step."

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