A One-Two Punch for RFID at Wal Mart

The “one” in the one-two punch was the restructuring that Sam’s Club did this Janurary with regards to its pallet, case, and item level tagging initiatives within their supply chain.  Here are the highlights:

  • Deadlines for compliance were dramatically extended
  • Fines were reduced to 4% of their previous level
  • Case level tagging requirements, which were originally proposed to be in-place by Oct 31, 2009 are now optional

Now comes the other punch to RFID implementation within Sam’s Club and Wal Mart… Earlier this week, RFID Update and StoreFront BackTalk released stories about Procter & Gamble’s decision to end its program to tag promotional displays with RFID to ensure they were placed on store floors at appropriate times.  

Most of the analyis surrounding the story speculates that it was the people and the processses that failed, not the technology.  While this many very well be true, I personally see it as another large step back for RFID.   I agree that the technology is fundamentally sound – especially with improvements made over the last couple of years with regards to standards, security, and scalability.  I even think that the technology will continue to get better over time.

However, lack of acceptance and breakdowns in processes highlight larger business issues have to be solved before we will see wide spread adoption of RFID.  Technology alone is not good enough.  

I believe if we can’t successfully tag promotional displays, we are a *long* way off from realizing RFID’s “full” potential, such as smart shelves with item-level tagging.

Here are some other great RFID posts on WiFiJedi.com

Lastly, one of my blog readers reached out and asked if I could promote one of his events.  The information is below: 

RFID in Healthcare Consortium Presentation:

“Challenges & Rewards of Wireless Technology in Health Care”

Washington, DC March 10 & 11, 2009-02-18

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