Avery Dennison head of worldwide RFID James Stafford, who previously ran the RFID project at Marks & Spencer, has been looking at RFID projects and trials all over the world since leaving retail.
He believes that directors in retail perhaps don’t believe how much they could benefit from item-level tagging – because they don’t understand the scale of the problem it could address. Particularly, that stock data in stores can be quite inaccurate.
Stafford said that retailers’ “wonderful expensive systems are not a true reflection of reality”, and people at the top of the business often don’t get told the truth about this. Where retailers have piloted RFID, he says that they have always been able to generate a business case.
He also believes that there are too many technologists involved in the industry, and they have a tendency to talk about technology when retailers just want to talk about the business case.
The other issue is that retailers have been put off by the perception that RFID integration projects are complex, when what retailers want is out of the box solutions, where they can buy tags, readers and software from different suppliers and have it all work together seamlessly.
None of these barriers to adoption are going to be overcome overnight – and perhaps with the economy the way it is, now is not the time to try and be the UK retailer that overcomes them.
But with the list of retailers in other countries piloting and adopting RFID continue to grow, the industry in the UK must begin to question whether they are all wrong, and the slow-coach UK retailers are right.