Passive RFID is Gaining Momentum

Walmart adding new items requiring RFID tagging

It all started with Walmart, this passive RFID for retail thing, in January of 2005. That is when Walmart’s first RFID tagging requirements went into place. At that time, the thought in the industry was that Walmart would soon RFID tag all items sold in their stores and be able to implement a drive through check out process, where all items would be scanned automatically, and checked out by merely driving your shopping cart through an RFID portal. Not only Walmart but all retailers.

Passive RFID Products

As a company that has worked in the RFID space for decades and who understands the limitations of the technology, we were not only skeptical but declared it could not be done reliably or cost-effectively. In the end, 2007 to be exact, when Walmart started rolling back their mandates, we were found to be correct.

But flash forward 17 years and it is finally starting to come closer to reality. Not for an unattended checkout, but for tracking items through back-end operations. Items that are more conducive to RFID technology and worth the price of the RFID tag to track. 

Apparel has been tagged for Walmart by suppliers for a few years now, but new products are being added to the RFID tag requirement list.  The new products joining apparel are entertainment, home goods, tires, and batteries. The final deadline to ship these products to Walmart RFID tagged is September 2nd

In addition to all of this work in the retail space, we are finally getting traction and seeing RFID projects succeed in manufacturing and other warehouse operations. Lower tag costs, better technology, and better understanding of the technology are all contributing to these gains.

It is not like technology has gained huge ground in the last two decades. It has advanced to be sure, but not in groundbreaking ways like cell phones or computers. Moore’s law is not at work in the RFID space.  We feel it is more that people’s thinking about RFID is better. Understanding the limitations of the technology, particularly with metal and liquid. Understanding the sea of data that will be produced by these systems and the necessity to build backend systems outside of your base WMS or ERP system.

If you are looking for a technology advisor who will assess your operations and give you candid answers on the feasibility of RFID, the EMP Tech Group is a must. Check out our website to learn more about our RFID offerings!

If you want to read more about the Walmart RFID journey and requirements, check out these articles. 

Walmart details its RFID journey – Computer World

Walmart Recommits to RFID with Supplier Mandates – RFID Journal

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