Tesco extends radio tag trial

Supermarket giant Tesco will next month extend its trial of radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, using the electronic...

Supermarket giant Tesco will extend its trial of radio frequency identification (RFID) tags next month, using the electronic tracking technology on DVDs at a Tesco Extra store in Sandhurst.

The move, designed to improve stock availability and make life easier for staff, follows the company’s initial trial of RFID tags on Gillette Mach 3 razor blades at its Cambridge store, which started in January.

If the latest trial proves successful, the tags could feature on a wide range of food and non-food products in the future, said Colin Cobain, IT director at Tesco.

"In time we will see chips on food products so we will know when products on-shelf are approaching their sell-by dates,” he said. “It will make identifying products a lot easier and allow our staff to spend more time with customers."

The tags used in the DVD trial, provided by packaging company MeadWestvaco, will tell Tesco staff at Sandhurst how many of a particular item are in stock and where they are.

Each DVD will carry a unique tag on the packaging, which is activated by a shelf reader. When the product is removed from the shelf, or from the back room of the store, the reader will send a message back to a central system accessed by Tesco and distribution partner Entertainment UK.

DVDs are a prime example of a product category that can be improved by using RFID, Cobain said.

“There are hundreds of different DVD lines and they often end up in the wrong place. It is frustrating for customers. The tags will save staff a lot of time. They can easily see how many of each type are on the shelf and if items are in the wrong place.”

In the future, the RFID technology will link into stock ordering systems and could also tell staff how many products are in the stock room, on their way to the store, at the distribution centre and even how many are being made at the factory.

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