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The Benefits of Adopting RFID in Supply Chain Planning
Jun 08, 2018

The Benefits of Adopting RFID in Supply Chain Planning


In 2003, Walmart announced that all of its suppliers would need to have Radio frequency identification (RFID) tags on all pallets and cases by 2006. For many reasons, that transformation did not happen and RFID was put on the industry’s back-burner. More recently, with the rise of interconnected systems, the analytics to derive value from those systems seems, and decreased costs, RFID is resurrecting as a solution for increasing supply chain management (SCM), visibility into processes, and reducing inventory tracking costs. Historically, the cost of RFID implementation and difficulty to utilize RFID in conjunction with other supply chain systems has hindered mass adoption by supply chain managers. RFID in the supply chain is shaping up to make new waves in the industry as retailers and technology push the supply chain technology forward.


The biggest issue hasn’t been the technology itself, but rather the hype and promise around RFID before it was in the right place to deliver. The price of RFID tags has been an inhibitor to mass adoption, initially costing $10 or more, making them an unrealistic application for a retail operation. Though possible for use on cages or totes in a warehouse, the reading technology was also not particularly advanced, and the Faraday’s Cage effect of racking meant accurately tracking tags was difficult. Indeed, until recently, most RFID readers weren’t highly accurate and offered little advantage over barcode readers, which didn’t carry the same premium price.


Is it time for RFID to deliver? The retail industry is very close and the benefits are within reach. As the opportunity grows, RFID will gather more momentum to greater adoption and eventually impact all areas of product and retail. Fashion is likely to be the first to benefit, but larger prizes are on offer in the fast-moving and shelf-life impacted food industry. It may be 20 years after the hype started, but within the next couple of years retailers of all types could be seeing an economic business case for making the move to mass RFID adoption.





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