RFID data gathering is a two way street. Companies pass shipment information to RFID equipped retailers who in turn send data back. What information is being sent back to manufacturers and distributors by Wal-Mart? How timely is it? Is this typical of other retailers with similar programs?
All the retailers who have announced to-date have stated that data sharing will be part of their RFID programs. The data points being sent are: Receipt at a Distribution Center, Shipment from a Distribution Center, Receipt at a Store, Transition from Stockroom to Sales Floor, Product Stocked on Sales Floor.
What is the best – and worst – scenario involving Auto-ID information sent back to a consumer goods company?
The worse case scenario would be one in which retailers sent erroneous and excess data on which consumer goods companies would have to base intelligent business decisions. Best case scenarios might include one in which each data point is collected with adequate filtering so that duplicates are not sent. This data is then utilized to make better business decisions. For instance, knowing what inventory is on-hand and where to put it will serve to lower inventory carrying costs. Suppliers gain a competitive advantage over their competitors and reduce costs in their supply chain.
What are the first steps a supplier can make towards this ideal situation? What might lead them to failure?
Utilizing RFID technology in order to understand it is a start but that alone will not provide overall benefit, especially in a slap and ship mode. The key is not only to utilize the technology but also utilize the data to make better business decisions. While testing RFID technology, customers might also want to “test” the data that they receive back from the retailers so they can begin analyzing how to use this data to make better business decisions. One customer reported that it felt as if it already had one of the Top 10 supply chains in the United States and was investing in RFID to remain there.
“Slap-and-ship” is popular because it requires the minimum investment to meet basic mandates. Are there simple changes a company using this method could make to improve their return on RFID hardware and software?
A slap and ship approach has little benefit from the standpoint of increasing productivity or labor savings within a warehouse, but it is an initiator to start the data collection. This, coupled with the data collected from the retailer, can help predict out-of-stock situations at specific stores and forecast demand. It can also be utilized for analysis in promotion/campaign efficiency.