Wal-Mart Expands RFID To 500 More Stores

By the end of this fiscal year, 1,000 Wal-Mart stores will be RFID enabled. That's double the amount of its current stores and clubs online, as the company added 500 more on Sept. 13.

"Recent internal analysis of our ongoing efforts, along with the launch of EPCglobal Generation 2 tags, reinforces the value of this technology for Wal-Mart, our suppliers and ultimately our customers," said Rollin Ford, executive vice president and chief information officer for Wal-Mart. "We're aggressively moving forward with the expansion of RFID-enabled facilities."

Ford noted that all Wal-Mart installations moving forward would only read Gen 2 tags. As the remaining pallets and cases with Gen 1 tags make their way through the distribution network, Wal-Mart will convert all of its systems to only read Gen 2 tags.

"We believe this technology, when coupled with new work processes, will deliver even more benefits than we are currently receiving," Ford said. "We are actively engaged in designing some new initiatives that will accelerate our program even further and, in so doing, create even more value for everyone involved."

Wal-Mart's RFID savings -- reducing both out-of-stocks and excess inventory -- have been documented in a 2005 study by the University of Arkansas.

On the supply side, Wal-Mart said it is working with its next 300 largest suppliers, which are expected to begin shipping test cases in October. These suppliers will go live with their shipments in January 2007, bringing to more than 600 the number of supplier companies using RFID technology in concert with Wal-Mart.

"We continue to work with suppliers to help them see the vast potential of RFID," said Ford. "We're already fully convinced of its value and are ready to step up the pace since we know we are only touching the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the benefits of this technology."

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