RFID: shops must act now or be left behind

Retailers need to begin investigating how they could be using radio frequency identification tags to ensure they are not left...

Retailers need to begin investigating how they could be using radio frequency identification tags to ensure they are not left behind when the electronic tracking technology matures, industry experts have warned.

A handful of UK retailers, including Tesco, Marks & Spencer and Woolworths, are conducting RFID trials but the majority of retailers have been quiet on the subject, according to Richard Hill, retail consultant at Cap Gemini Ernst & Young.

"M&S is in the lead and Tesco is there but what is everybody else doing?" he said. "It is absolutely fundamental to make some decisions now about a technology that is going to change everyone's business in five to 10 years' time."

RFID has been pushed up the industry's agenda following US retail giant Wal-Mart's mandate to its top 100 suppliers that they must be tagging pallets by 2005.

This timescale is unrealistic for the majority of retailers but they can take steps now to improve their readiness for implementing the technology, Hill said.

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