What Would Be the Best Way for a Local Supermarket to Transition to RFID Technology?

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Ask The ExpertsWhat Would Be the Best Way for a Local Supermarket to Transition to RFID Technology?
RFID Journal Staff asked 6 years ago

I think our IT is more than capable for using radio frequency identification, but I question the process of RFID tagging, implementation and so forth. Is there a good model store I can look at?

—Name withheld

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The best thing to do would be to look at where you have your particular problems. Are you losing money because seafood or meats are going bad? Are steaks and other high-value items being stolen? Are cases of goods, such as fresh coffee beans, vanishing from the back of the store? I would focus on these issues and try to resolve them.

There are not a lot of supermarket case studies to which I can refer you, since retailers have felt that there was not enough value in tracking cases and pallets, and that RFID was too expensive to use on individual items. One supermarket that has deployed RFID is Hy-Vee, which monitors the temperatures of shipments in order to ensure that produce is always fresh (see Hy-Vee Supermarkets Track Perishables to Ensure Freshness). Australia’s Woolworths supermarket chain ran a pilot to test RFID’s ability to ensure that food is always fresh (see Australia’s Woolworths Supermarket Chain Studies RFID), but I am unsure if the retailer ever implemented the system across all of its stores.

I believe that there is value in using RFID on pallets and cases to reduce out-of-stocks. This was Walmart‘s original intent, and had suppliers bought into it and tagged everything they sent to Walmart, the system would have delivered value. A 2012 study conducted in Italy confirmed this (see Italian Study Shows How RFID Can Help Reduce Supermarket Overstocks). I think that as the cost of tags come down and the technology matures, we’ll see more supermarkets deploying RFID.

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal

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