RealTime IT News

RFID's the Thing at Retail Show

Radio frequency identification was a hot topic at the National Retail Federation (NRF) trade show this week in New York City.

According to a report by BuzzBack Market Research conducted on behalf of Teradata, larger companies are studying whether RFID technology can optimize inventory and stock levels while producing better information about customers and sales.

More than half of the retail managers surveyed for the Teradata 2005 Report on Retail Technology thought that RFID could provide benefits. Twenty percent had RFID projects planned or under way. That number doubled among companies with annual revenues of $3 billion or more.

"RFID technology promises revolutionary changes in supply chain efficiencies by making it easier and more automatic to track movements in a cost-effective manner, at more handoff points in the supply chain," Des Martin, vice president of retail consulting at Teradata, a vendor of enterprise data warehousing analytic applications and data warehousing services, said in a statement.

The conference featured X05, a "smart store" demonstration created by professional services firm IconNicholson, which illustrates how the automated, contactless data transmission provided by RFID tags and readers can give retailers better information about what's on their shelves and in their warehouses.

Symbol Technologies announced that 7-Eleven would use its Symbol MC3000 mobile computer to improve productivity and merchandise management across its chain of 5,300 convenience stores nationwide.

"Symbol's level of commitment to mobility innovation, especially in the area of RFID, and the ability to go beyond our solution requirements with their new MC3000 mobile computer, figured prominently in our decision," said Keith Morrow, vice president of information systems for 7-Eleven, in a statement.

Sun Microsystems and SeeBeyond announced an industry-specific package, RFID ISA for Retail, to be released this quarter.

There were plenty of other tech announcements at the show. Microsoft showcased industry-specific, point-of-sale (POS) products targeting specific retail sectors: gift and hobby; apparel; beer-wine-liquor; and sporting goods. The vertical offerings were developed within the Microsoft Business Solutions Retail Management System, a POS and retail store automation package.

Microsoft also showed off third-party extensions of its Microsoft Speech Server 2004 speech recognition platform. For example, Microsoft partners Gold Systems, Softel Ltd. and Intervoice built software that lets customers reset their passwords or personal identification numbers over the phone. Microsoft noted that password resets can account for up to 40 percent of calls into a retailer's IT help desk.