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Posted on December 14, 2004 by  & 

Rapid changes in RFID in Retailing

The IDTechEx RFID Knowledgebase is now passing 1300 case studies and the largest number - over 315 - are in retailing and the consumer supply chain. However, the structure of these studies reveals a change in territorial spread. It also reveals some difference between popular writing on the subject and the truth of what is going on concerning actual applications rather than hype.


For example, over 1000 suppliers are mandated by various major retailers in the West to RFID tag pallets and cases but many of these are doing little or nothing. In the East, there are very few large retailers and our experts tell us that this will not change: retailers are not and will not drive most RFID, the large suppliers and the law are among the forces that count there.The mandated suppliers in the West hope that, at worst, they will be fitting a new label at their own expense and they often wish to send it untested to their retail customers in the hope that that will be enough to keep them quiet. Accordingly, there is very little news from even the top suppliers though a few orders have been placed. Waiting for the final detail of EPCglobal specifications is one excuse but that will not be valid for much longer. True, Tesco, the largest supermarket chain in the UK has put things on hold pending specifications but not, we suspect, for long.

New countries, new applications

Nonetheless, a great deal is going on in this arena but it is no longer nearly all in the West, nor was it ever primarily for the UHF tags that get all the publicity and that will go on most pallets and cases when the industry really starts to act in a major way.

The evidence

The following are some of the new or considerably updated RFID Knowledgebase entries in this sector. Note how East Asia is now very much in evidence and new user names and item level tagging are commonplace.
Some of the new or greatly updated studies by IDTechEx
  • Beaver Street Fisheries pallet and case US
  • C&A hanger drags Germany
  • Canadian Drugstore pallets and cases
  • CD Linja, DVD,CD item level Finland
  • CVS Pharmacy item level, pallets, cases US
  • Dai Nippon Printing Books item level Japan
  • De La Salle University item level Philippines
  • DHL Fashion apparel item level Belgium/ France
  • Echangeur item level etc France
  • Electronics City retail item level India
  • EPCglobal/ Japan Government item level, pallets, cases
  • Figleaves cases UK
  • Food Traceability item level Japan
  • foodTrace item level, pallet, case Botswana
  • Jack Link's pallets, case US
  • Japanese Clothing retailers item level
  • Kimberley Clark pallet case US
  • Jefferson Smurfit pallet case US
  • Maruetsu Supermarkets item level, pallet, case Japan
  • McDonald's card, tagUS
  • National Computerisation Agency Beef item level, pallet, case Korea
  • Pacific Cycle item level US
  • Prada item level US
  • Samsung Tesco item level, pallet, case Korea
  • Sushi bars JRFS item level Japan
  • Wal-Mart Type 2 Drugs item level US

Many trials still, big orders from unusual places

A high proportion of the case studies in retail still relate to trials, however, unlike other sectors such as transport, laundry, library, logistics, leisure, healthcare, financial, security and military. Although the number of tags involved will eventually exceed those in all other sectors combined, it has not done so. Indeed, the postal and the financial sectors are close to big orders in the meantime, delaying the ascendancy of retail even longer perhaps. Even in animal tagging there have been one or two multimillion tag orders exceeding the size of most orders in the retail and the consumer supply chain.
In retail, study of the actual case studies on the IDTechEx RFID Knowledgebase show that there are now many new companies entering at every level in the value chain from chip design and manufacture to system integration. There is still no company with global experience in systems integration, or anything much else in the RFID vale chain for that matter. There is a great need for global support of the sector because so many of the retailers and their suppliers are multinationals demanding globally standard solutions preferably from a single supplier. However, all this will change and very dramatic developments can be expected in the next few years.
For more: RFID Knowledgebase
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