The Retail OnDemand pilot is using IBMs emerging, WebSphere-based Store Integration Framework, Jackman said. The framework is being piloted by a number of retailers, but Pepboys Auto, Circuit City and Metro are the only ones that have decided to go ahead with full-scale, storewide implementations. Read more here about the overhaul at Circuit City. Metro is the sole customer to be taking part in both the Retail OnDemand and RFID pilots. The retail chain, based in the United Kingdom, is working with Active Decisions BI (business intelligence) application to provide guided self-service at kiosks. And Metro is using other software to spur interactivity with customers through RFID.Like IBM, though, Microsoft and Oracle are starting to pilot RFID with certain users. DHL, one of Oracles pilot customers, wants to see how RFID can improve customer service and ROI (return on investment), according to materials posted on Oracles Web site. Oracle is adding RFID functionality to its database, as well as to its application server and enterprise application suite. Oracles emerging RFID capabilities are part of a larger family of Sensor-Based Services that also includes bar-code, proximity and temperature-sensing technologies. "But the promise of RFID is to capture and automate data higher in the supply chain," an Oracle representative said. Microsofts pilot customers for RFID include Danish snack-food maker Kims, according to a Microsoft representative. Microsoft wants to develop RFID-specific capabilities such as data filtering and reader management for middleware such as BizTalk and SQL Server. Microsofts partners in customer pilots will include RFID implementation specialists such as Manhattan Associates and GlobeRanger, Sharyn Leaver, an analyst at Forrester Research, said in an interview with eWEEK.com. In the IBM retail trials, Circuit City will start piloting the Store Integration Framework by March 1, 2005, with full-scale deployment likely to follow by March 1, 2006, said Mike Jones, Circuit Citys CIO. "Itd be ideal for us to start piloting in one store, and then take it out to a single region, before doing the full rollout," Jones said in an interview with eWEEK.com. IBM Global Services (IGS) will help Circuit City to integrate an existing Java-based retail supply chain solution from Commerce 360; a service order application from Yantra; and two different front ends: Windows XP Embedded, now in use at about 100 of Circuit Citys 600 stores, and IBMs new IRES (Integrated Retail Embedded SuSE) Linux. The Pepboys pilot will start next month, Jackman said. Unlike Circuit City, Pepboys will run IBMs AIX on the back end and embedded Linux at the POS. The auto-parts supply and services company has opted to write its own ordering software. Check out eWEEK.coms Supply Chain Management & Logistics Center for the latest news and analysis of enterprise supply chains.
Other IBM customers in the Retail OnDemand program, such as Circuit City and Pepboys, dont have immediate plans to test RFID.