Item-Level RFID On The Horizon?

For years, RFID has been employed at the pallet level among large retailers. But now, with several retailers testing item-level RFID, it could be more reality than sci-fi.

Item-level radio-frequency identification (RFID) tagging has, to this point, been mostly cost prohibitive for retailers. But some are testing the technology on specific items to see its benefits, according to a story on Stores.org, the news site for the National Retail Federation.

The technology includes a tag on the pallet or item level, as well as a reader within a certain amount of distance that reports to a computer. That way, retailers can tell where each product is in the store in real time, allowing them to replace out of stocks, get an accurate inventory count and reduce shrink.

Retailers like Bloomingdale’s, Dillards, J.C. Penney, Gap and, of course, Walmart, have all used RFID tagging on certain items in 2010 to test its efficacy. Those retailers are finding the tags are improving shrink rates, as well as increasing inventory accuracy and improving sales.

"While other retail companies are keeping their ROI victories close to the vest, widespread reports on the results of pilots and rollouts across the industry suggest that item-level RFID has finally emerged as one of the technologies for companies fixed on honing their competitive edge for the next decade," the story reported.

The story also quoted Marshall Kay, founder of RFID Sherpas: "Skeptics have tried for years to dismiss RFID projects as too expensive or too complex, but RFID is now finally getting its day in the sun. Proceeding with RFID should already be a no-brainer for specialty apparel retailers. They have the ability to accelerate more quickly than department stores because they have much more control over their suppliers."

In the floriculture industry, some larger growers are implementing RFID tracking on a pallet level to be able to track hard goods supplies. One grower, Knox Nursery, has marketed its RFID program to other growers to allow for better inventory control on supplies and provide easy access to their locations.

Greenhouse Grower wrote a story about Knox Nursery’s Grower’s Own program..

Click here to read the full RFID story on Stores.org.

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