"The EPC Retail Users of Europe will drive forward international best methods for EPC. This will be a cornerstone for the future of RFID in retailing," said Gerd Wolfram, project manager of Metro Group's Future Store initiative.
EPC, a 96-bit numbering system that assigns a unique tracking number to every item that leaves the factory, combined with RFID tags, will improve inventory management and lead to reduced operating costs and higher margins, the group said.
The group, whose retail members are all actively piloting EPC and RFID, will document successful implementations, technologies and usage models and share the lessons learned across the retail industry.
Intel will provide advice on how retailers can implement technologies such as scanners and handheld devices that work with EPC and RFID technologies, said John Davies, vice-president of the sales and marketing group at the chip giant. The company will also share details of forthcoming processors, which can be used in inventory tracking devices, he added.
Colin Cobain, IT director at Tesco, which last month mandated that some of its products would be RFID-tagged by July 2004, said, "We recognise the importance of implementing an efficient supply chain and the benefits EPC and RFID could bring. We are currently trialling radio barcodes within our distribution network and have already seen some benefits. We hope to be able to roll this out soon."