Radio frequency identification (RFID) promises to revolutionize retailing through advanced stock management, sophisticated promotions, and supply chain optimization.
The technology reduces the risk of human error, offers instant stock levels, and can be tied to back-end systems, initiating orders automatically when stock starts to run low.
However, cost-effective solutions have proved elusive because technical and business hurdles exist.
The European Union (EU)-funded SMART research project is developing a complete RFID application platform to help unlock the potential of RFID technology.
The project's objective is to support intelligent business networking and consumer services based on effective and efficient information sharing and collaboration across supply chain partners, capitalizing on the fact that products are uniquely and automatically identified (at item, case, or pallet level) with the use of RFID technology.
Two pilot programs for RFID retail applications are being conducted.
The first involves stock tracking and activity monitoring for a particular promoted product. The supplier will be able to monitor shelf and backroom inventory for the product, sales location, consumer preferences, and so on, making adjustments to promotion activities while the event is still running.
The second test involves an automatic discounting system for products - in this case meat - nearing its expiration date.
Based upon the result of these programs, SMART will integrate the indicated improvements in the systems and then run a second pilot program in the first half of this year.