Staples' Reusable RFID Trial ExpandingBy Evan Schuman | Posted 2007-12-14 Email Print
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After an initial run in one store in Canada, the retailer will expand the trial to four other stores by mid-February.A one-store RFID trial that Staples ran this summer with reusable tags was successful enough to convince the retailer to expand it to four other stores in mid-February of 2008, said the retail chain's IT executive in charge of the project.
The initial Staples Canada trial was an attempt to see if the key argument against more expensive active radio-frequency identification tagswhich typically cost between $5 and $8 apiececould be defused. Historically, retailers have avoided using such high-end tags on merchandise that doesn't cost more than $100, greatly limiting how much the technology could be used.
Theoretically, a reusable tagwhich is removed at the point of salecould radically change the chip's economics.
Soares said the trial continuously delivered a 100 percent accurate read rate and "a 21 percent reduction in out-of-stocks for the items that were counted."
The chain also saw "zero percent shrink" on the tagged items, which Soares said was especially noteworthy because the tagged items were common theft targets such as MP3 players, laptops and desktop PCs.
"Those items are the ones that are very hot. They are high profile," he said. "With it being a closed system, we knew right away if something was gone."
The chain will mimic the initial Montreal trial by only tagging a very small percentage of each store's SKUs.
"We tested 1,500 SKUs and we are going to expand the same project to the additional stores," Soares said. "The results were so great that we wanted to see if it was replicable throughout the chain."
In the initial trial in June, the chain paid nothing for hardware costs because the costs were covered by supplier partners, including Fujitsu and AbsoluteSky. For the trial expansion to four more stores, Staples is paying the hardware bill, but Soares indicated that the rates it was charged by its suppliers were quite low. "The costs are indicative of them wanting to do business with us," he said.
Retail Center Editor Evan Schuman can be reached at Evan.Schuman@ziffdavisenterprise.com.
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