The most basic supply chain managementthe much ballyhooed product transparencyis 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 stagewhich could last five or more yearswill see the two technologies co-existing.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.
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