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Will RFID Implementations Pay Off?

There's a raging debate about whether RFID technologies will achieve ROI for early adopters. As you know, Wal-Mart is one of the initiators of the RFID buzz right now, requiring its biggest suppliers to implement RFID - allowing Wal-Mart to streamline its in-company processes. Specifically, Wal-Mart says that the big payoff for both the retailer and the supplier will come from higher sales associated with ending "out of stock" conditions. Well, some tentative numbers are now in:

For more than six months, researchers studied out of stock conditions at 12 Wal-Mart Stores that have the technology and 12 that didn't. The results were pretty impressive - manual order entry for out of stock merchandize was down 10 percent in stores that had RFID systems, and overall, items using RFID EPC codes were replenished 3-times faster than those with traditional barcodes.

These numbers are significant when you consider the amount of labor saved from not having to manually scan items for inventory counts and putting in manual orders for items not available to the customer.

Wal-Mart and the RFID Research Center plan to publish their results in a series of white papers soon