Wal-Mart expands RFID use in stores
radio frequency identification (RFID) for tracking goods, adding to
growing pressure on processors to invest in the technology.
Rollin Ford, executive vice president and chief information officer of Wal-Mart, announced the additions during a speech on Monday. Wal-Mart has already completed the conversion at about 600 stores. "Through RFID technology, Wal-Mart is providing value to customers, working with our suppliers to deliver collaborative benefits that allow people to save money and lead better lives," he said. "We have only gotten started, and we are continuing to rollout to more stores at the same rate as the last two years." Ford also said that by improving stock management, wasted trips by customers who find the products they want sold out, would reduce by up to 30 per cent. RFID is gathering pace to become standard within the industry as manufacturers seek better traceability and accurate product sourcing. Driving the technology's integration into the supply chain are retailers such as Wal-Mart, who are beginning to mandate that their suppliers invest in RFID systems. A University of Arkansas study of Wal-Mart's use of RFID found that the technology had reduced the company's out-of-stock problems by 16 per cent. Items were replenished three times faster than those using standard bar code technology. The falling cost of RFID and expensive food recalls have made the technology progressively more appealing to the producers and retailers. During the speech Ford also described future innovations that could be made possible with RFID. "In the near future, customers may be able to enjoy advantages such as automatic warranty activation on electronics, freshness assurance on foods thanks to cold chain monitoring and enhanced product safety as a result of faster, more accurate recalls and better freshness monitoring," he said. Wal-Mart is one of the world's biggest retailers, with 24 million customers visiting stores every day. It operates 6,500 stores and wholesale clubs across 15 countries with a staff estimated around 1.8 million. About 3,900 of those locations are in the US.