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By Evan Schuman  |  Posted 2004-09-02 Print this article Print

The most basic supply chain management—the much ballyhooed product transparency—is a top Willett goal. One of his frustrations is with promotional merchandise. "One of the haphazards is that the promotion is short in terms of duration and in terms of quantity. You dont want to upset customers by promoting something that isnt going to be there," he said. Even preliminary RFID efforts "should further enable product availability at the store level so we know where product is at any one time." With so much attention focused on efforts of retailers to move from bar codes to RFID, its important to note that the near-term stage—which could last five or more years—will see the two technologies co-existing.
To read analyst predictions about RFID use within retail, click here.
RFID "is vastly superior to bar coding. The speed and efficiency is there. But RFID tagging is a step change," Willett said. "We know that we are going to have dual systems for a considerable time. Ultimately, though, you cant [permanently] have dual systems." This weeks announcement comes on the heels of Best Buys announcement of a seven-year strategic relationship with Accenture for consulting and outsourcing services. That announcement identified the retailers IT goals as supply chain management optimization, improved call centers, better functionality from their Web sites, and improved analytics and reporting. Check out eWEEK.coms Retail Center for the latest news, views and analysis of this vital industry.

Evan Schuman is the editor of's Retail industry center. He has covered retail technology issues since 1988 for Ziff-Davis, CMP Media, IDG, Penton, Lebhar-Friedman, VNU, BusinessWeek, Business 2.0 and United Press International, among others. He can be reached by e-mail at

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