German Retailer To Roll Out RFID Tags - InformationWeek

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German Retailer To Roll Out RFID Tags

Metro Group says about 100 of its top suppliers will begin attaching the chips to pallets and packages of goods headed for its warehouses beginning in November.

German retailer Metro Group on Monday unveiled a large-scale implementation of radio-frequency identification technology throughout its supply chain.

The company, which owns and operates more than 2,300 wholesale stores, supermarkets, department stores, and specialty stores throughout Europe, said it will begin receiving cases and pallets tagged with RFID in November from 100 of its suppliers. The RFID-ready shipments will come into 10 central warehouses and around 250 stores within the company's sales divisions: Metro Cash & Carry, Real hypermarkets, Extra supermarkets, and Galeria Kaufhof department stores.

The RFID tags will be used to transmit product information such as price, manufacturer, expiration dates, and product weights, with little or no human intervention.

The implementation follows months-long testing Metro Group has done in a lab it built, along with several technology partners such as SAP, IBM, and Intel, in Rheinberg, Germany, near Metro's Dusseldorf headquarters, as part of its Metro Group Future Store Initiative. The lab, or a replica of it, is on display this week at the National Retail Federation's annual Convention and Expo in New York. The lab is a 13,000-square-foot showcase of innovative retail technology and includes everything from handhelds that customers can use to find products with RFID tags to self-checkout systems to point-of-sale computers that are truly plug-and-play and tightly integrated with back-end systems for up-to-date inventory checks.

Use of RFID technology has been growing, from speed passes at tollbooths to systems that let ranchers track livestock. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said last year it would require its top 100 suppliers to attach the tags to pallet shipments by early 2005.

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