What Is Walmart RFID?
Walmart is one the biggest multinational companies of groceries and related stuffs that has its chains called supercenters all over the world.
With the advancement in technology every business tries new strategies to improve the outcome by decreasing the physical effort. One of that business strategies used by Walmart is RFID.
RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. It is a wireless system which is basically dependent on two of its chief components, tags and readers.
RFID tags are encoded with the data of equipment and work of reader is to read that data and further it can be stored or analyzed by the system. It is quite similar to bar code and QR code but RFID has more elaborated and advanced mechanism.
How RFID Technology Works In Walmart?
In the year 2003, when Walmart announced RFID on its shipments, after implementing it turned out to a failure initially. Then the team of Walmart analyzed and found its weaker areas where they worked and ultimately got the credit of popularizing RFID technology in businesses.
* RFID Tags
All Walmart RFID tags, sometimes called as smart label contains an integrated circuit that transmits the data to reader.
There are two kinds of RFID tags:
- Active RFID: In this kind of tags, they have their own power source in the form of battery or other.
- Passive RFID: This type of tags receives its power from reader, following the principal of electromagnetism induction.
In majority of the items Walmart uses passive RFID tags but in the section that requires longer reach they use active RFID tags.
* RFID Reader
RFID reader also known as interrogator, contains an antenna and a transceiver. It reads the data received from tags and directly sends and fills the information at desired location of the computer without any human intervention.
Multiple teams of Walmart were made to install readers on the Walmart stores across the country.
* Requirement Based RFID System
There are different Walmart RFID systems used by the company on the basis of distance from which the frequency is to be matched. Distances vary from few inches to several feet. Systems that need longer distance reach also requires more power source.
* Correct Adhesiveness
Although technology is excellent, but in the initial period it was seen that the RFID tags on Walmart shipments or products were not properly sticked due to which sometimes it got detached and reader fails to read the information from the RFID tags. Hence, the use of proper adhesives is also the key point where Walmart focusses.
* Compatibility With Materials
Walmart sells items which are also made up of some metals which can interfere with the frequency of RFID systems. Hence during designing of tags and readers for Walmart products, it is kept in mind to use the material which is compatible with all the products and any kind of metals.
* Cost Of Tags
One of the main reasons of failure of Walmart RFID technology around the years 2003 to 2005 was that the cost of RFID tags was too much, up to $0.75 per tag. Now the tag price has been reduced to a greater extent and hence this feature of Walmart brought a good outcome.
If suppliers purchase the tags, they get it for a nominal cost or the cost of tag is itself included in final price. So, the point of discussion of Walmart tags pricing got over and made easy for suppliers.
Which Walmart Items Use RFID?
As of now all the retailers of Walmart US have RFID technology in majority of the items.
Walmart started using RFID tags on underwear first, then they extended to men's jeans and clothing. These tags were removable.
Few years ago, it was a big question whether RFID technology is safe for pharmaceutical drugs. But after the official statement from FDA, it was cleared from their end that RFID has no harm on drugs and medicines. After that Walmart started putting RFID tags on drugs also.
These days Walmart use RFID, on clothing, packed eatables, drugs and on the groceries that are built with the material which can not interfere with any of the RFID reader and tags.
RFID technology is not used only on items of Walmart that could either interfere with the wireless communication technology of RFID or which has any adverse effect on any living creature.
Outcomes Of Using RFID For Walmart
- Problems of no-stock was completely solved for any store. Since the team started getting information automatically using this technology. Only after using this technology, Walmart has become the world's biggest leading supply management system.
- Using RFID tags, the trend of live sales can be determined within few minutes and it helps in making better business strategies.
- Decreased the labor cost as the data and information is automatically entered to the computer.
- Savings that this RFID technology brought to Walmart is expected to be more than $8 billion per year.
- Reduction in theft cases from the supercenters as the reader is also fixed to exit point which can detect items with tags.
- At the last, but not the least, no matter how good a strategy is, if it fails to attract the customers, it is of no use. Walmart RFID was convenient for customers also as they can buy the items online and pick it up from the stores anytime.
Walmart invested its huge amount on technology than can reduce the mechanical work and boost their sales by multiple ways. For this purpose, they introduced RFID technology, earlier in the small scale which was failed initially. But after working on the reduction of demerits it became one of the most popular and fruitful technology around the world.
Seeing the super success of RFID technology by Walmart, other retailers also started using this system.
Earlier Walmart introduced RFID as an alternative of bar code that needs line of sight for scanning, have limited range of connection and can not provide satisfactory data. But now RFID has been used for variety of purposes specially inventory management by the businesses around the world.