Tesco to extend trial of RFID tags to DVDs

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

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

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 the shelves 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 Tesco's RFID trial, which are being provided by packaging company MeadWestvaco, will tell Tesco staff at the Sandhurst store how many units of a particular item are in stock, where they are and, in the case of perishable goods, when they go out of date.

Each DVD will feature 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 immediately send a message to a central system accessed by Tesco and its 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 if they cannot find the title they want," he said. "Staff currently spend a great deal of time sorting through these titles to make sure they are in the right place. The tags will save staff a lot of time and they can easily see if items are in the wrong place and how many of each type are on the shelf."

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, Cobain added.

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