RFID for Retail


With the holiday season just around the corner, retail outlets are preparing for the deluge of customers that are going to hit the shopping circuit. One way retail outlets can better serve customers and drive sales is by ensuring they have the right product in the right place at the right time.

This is Macy’s, www.macysinc.com, strategy for the coming year. Yesterday, the company announced plans to use RFID (radio frequency identification) in all stores nationwide beginning in the third quarter of 2012. While the rollout won’t be ready for this year’s holiday season, Macy’s is still an early adopter when it comes to implementing RFID on a broad national scale.

The adoption of RFID in the retail industry has been led by big companies like Wal-Mart Stores, www.walmart.com. With the cost of implementing such technology coming down and the need for retail outlets to stand out in a competitive market, RFID could have more adoption in retail in the future.

For Macy’s, the use of RFID will track the replenishment of goods on-hand by size, color, and style. The initial 2012 launch will be in size-intensive replenishment categories such as men’s furnishings, intimate apparel, men’s slacks, and women’s shoes. According to Macy’s, RFID will allow the company to more frequently count item-level inventory with precision so merchandise is more readily available for clients.

The underlying technology for RFID is also advancing, allowing retail store to have more flexibility, scalability, and visibility in retail operations.

This week, OMNITROL Networks, www.omnitrol.com, came to market with a new release of its EASE (Edge Application and Services Engine) platform. The technology provides operational visibility, status, and enterprise collaboration by integrating sensors with operational processes for retail, distribution, and manufacturing. OMNITROL’s EASE 4.0 extends the Google Javascript-V8 engine.

In contrast to previous generation Java engines, V8 processes code natively, without interpretation, which will ultimately increase application performance. OMNITROL says by delivering its technology through an open, easy-to-use Javascript environment, the company has removed the complexities involved with delivering sensor-driven operations.

Drew Nathanson, vice president of AutoID, VDC Research Group, www.vdcresearch.com, says systems integrators and developers can now design complex, production-ready innovations for item-level asset traceability and operational collaboration from the operations floor through the use of Javascript programming. This reduces the complexity in developing and customizing applications as well as accelerates the adoption and integration times for RFID and wireless sensor solutions.

The underlying technology for enabling RFID in retail, distribution, and manufacturing operations is advancing. For stores such as Macy’s, this is the right time to put the technology in place to improve customer service by ensuring the right product is in the right place at the right time. As the retail market remains highly competitive, technology such as this could help Macy’s stand out above the rest.

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