Wal-Mart Urges Suppliers to Adopt Labels

Associated Press Writer

July 10, 2003
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Wal-Mart wants its top 100 suppliers to slap tiny radio transmitters on all products they provide to the retail giant in an effort to better track merchandise while driving costs down.

The technology is intended to provide automatic coordination of goods going into and out of Wal-Mart's 103 distribution centers, replacing what Wal-Mart uses now -- bar codes that are scanned.

As products tagged with radio transmitters get within range of a reader, the distribution center's system automatically picks up the location of the product and details about what's on the pallet, Wal-Mart spokesman Tom Williams said.

"It's almost like a voice coming into range of a microphone," Williams said. "It's a unique, quick and efficient way to gather information on a pallet of goods as it comes into a distribution center."

If the technology moves to the shelves, shoppers could see some significant changes. The labels could allow customers to breeze through a checkout line with all their items being read via radio frequency at once.

Williams said Wednesday the company wants its top 100 manufacturers to have the system in place by 2005 on all Wal-Mart products. By 2006, the company wants all its other suppliers to use the technology.

Radio transmitters have promise for retail shelves, as well. With the transmitters on individual products, stores can get signals from areas that need restocking, protect against theft, and determine other product movement.
Copyright © 2003, The Associated Press


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