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Item-Level RFID Adoption in Retail Gathers Momentum

Kohl's is the latest big chain to announce it is using the technology to manage items in stores.
By Mark Roberti
Feb 19, 2014

In January, Checkpoint Systems announced it had completed an item-level RFID deployment for Kohl's department stores. The Menomonee Falls, Wis.-based chain operates stores throughout the United States, selling clothing, home and beauty products.

In spring 2012, Kohl's began investigating the use of RFID technology to improve inventory accuracy by tagging select items and reading those tags during inventory counts. That fall, the retailer expanded the RFID pilot to 25 stores. Following the successful pilot, Checkpoint and Kohl's developed a plan to roll out the solution to track select product categories at Kohl's stores. The store deployments began in spring 2013 and were completed by year's end. The speed of the rollout suggests the benefits were clear to Kohl's and the technology is mature.

Photo: iStockphoto
Kohl's implementation is part of an accelerating trend toward retailers using RFID to track items in stores, to improve inventory accuracy and boost sales. The table on the opposite page lists some of the major item-level RFID rollouts to date. It does not include retailers using RFID only in their supply chains (such as Italy's Patrizia Pepe) or at the case level (Mexico's Liverpool chain). It does not include retailers that have carried out major pilots but not yet announced rollouts (Grupo Éxito in Colombia), or retailers that have deployed RFID but never made a public announcement (Spain's Zara chain is widely known to be using RFID at the item level).

Many other retailers are currently exploring RFID's potential. During a panel discussion at the recent National Retail Federation convention in New York, Bill Hardgrave, dean of Auburn University's College of Business and founder of the RFID Research Center, told a crowd of retailers from around the world that 20 of the top 30 retail chains in the United States are currently in some

Click here to view a larger version of the above table.

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