Graphimecc’s RFID revolution

Discover how Graphimecc’s RFID technology is revolutionising inventory management,
unlocking a myriad of benefits and transforming the industry landscape.

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Walmart, the leading retail giant, was very smart to realise in advance the potential of new technologies like RFID, able to transform dramatically the inventory management. 

Already in 2005, when the RFID technology was still unknown both to many clients and companies, Walmart executives understood that their supply chain processes were not so strategic. This resulted in an inefficient stock management with a considerable reduction in sales. This problem led Walmart to launch a challenging program which envisaged the RFID tag implementation to enhance the inventory management. 

Unfortunately, this first attempt was unsuccessful and abandoned at the beginning of 2007. 

The failure was linked to three main issues: 

  • Missing protocols and necessary standards on a large scale that made the process more complex. 
     
  • High purchasing and installation costs ($ 0.50; 0.75 per tag), the companies should have invested considerable economic resources. 
     
  • Industry immaturity, in fact, many companies had not yet adopted the RFID technology, so, there was the difficulty to integrate it with the existing systems. 

Advances in RFID technology

Nevertheless, over the years, RFID technology has made significant progresses, overcoming many of its initial limitations. In fact, today it has begun much more affordable and is adopted by many due to the industry standardisation and to the reductionof the RFID tag costs(today the average cost per tag is $0.08-0.15 each). 

Although the previous unsuccessful attempt, Walmart believed in the RFID potential to enhance the inventory management. Every day, its stores and distribution centres tackle challenges related to the huge quantity of items to manage. Clearly, even the smallest mistakes can lead to considerable economic losses, as in 2013, when Walmart experienced a sales loss of $3 billion due to the inaccuracy of the inventory management. 

The application of RFID tags on every item, provides Walmart with a solution to face these types of problems. In fact, in 2020, Walmart decided to re adopt the RFID technology, taking advantage of the best conditions available on the market. The company started an initiative that directed its suppliers to applyRFID tag on garments, jewellery and specific products like tires. The first results were very promising and confirmed the effectiveness of the strategy, so, Walmart expanded the application of RFID on other products. 

In fact, from 2 September 2022, the company has extended the use of RFID tags to other departments, requiring all suppliers of toys electronics, household and sporting goods to equip each product with a UHF RFID tag, by February 2024. 

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Benefits of RFID implementation

The application of RFID tags is strategic in the logistics industry, for both employees and customers. In fact, it is possible to track inventory adjustments and identify when the stocks are about to run out. An RFID tag can provide with the real time position of a product in the supply chain, as well as store information such as the description and price of the item. The inventory process is also speededup because multiple RFID tags can be scanned simultaneously up to 40 feet by a reader without visual contact. Employees, therefore, can scan more tags at the same time, spending time on other tasks and greatly reducinglabour requirements. 

The RFID tags implementation offers a wide range of significant advantages. By managing the inventory, the website and stores always have availability of items, so as customers have always the chance to buy. In this way, Walmart experiences a growth in sales, enhances the customer experience and reinforces customer retention. 

The digitisation of inventory information makes shopping more efficient both at bricks and mortar stores and online. In-store, the clients can check which items are currently available, identify where they are positioned, and order out-of-stock products. When paying, they can take advantage of contactless checkouts that detect products without scanning them. Online, they can purchase items to pick up later in the brick-and-mortar stores or activate notifications to advise them when a product becomes available. 

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