Working with Partners
Wal-Mart is also developing business scenarios with trading partners to help understand how their products can get to store shelves with "precise execution" using RFID. The example Walton provided is time-sensitive items that come into Wal-Mart storesa gift set for Mothers Day, a new razor for Fathers Daythat need to be on store shelves at precisely the right time to really drive sales (too soon before a holiday can kill promotional sales, as can too close to an event).To combat that breakdown from supplier to shelf, Walton said Wal-Mart analyzes its RFID data and sits down with suppliers to determine where there are inefficiencies. "The value of data is huge," said Walton. "Our mindset should be that we are willing to share this with each other. From manufacturer to consumer crosses a lot of points and has a lot of touch-points. That needs to be streamlined. For us, the margins are razor thin. Its important to squeeze that out." Read more here about RFID compliance among Wal-Marts suppliers. To better facilitate this back-and-forth with partners, Wal-Mart provides RFID data to its trading partners within 15 minutes of it being read by Wal-Mart systems, so that every partner knows where its data is, according to Walton. "It requires collaboration to make sense of what is there," she said. On this front, the company is taking a three-pronged approach to RFID data: Its working with standards setting body EPCglobal to define and set standards that will be "good for the world," according to Walton; it quickly provides everything it gets back to trading partners; and it plans trading partner planning sessions regularly to figure out whats next. "We cant focus too narrowly," said Walton. "That would be a mistake." Next Page: Investing in RFID.
In closer analysis of its RFID data, Wal-Mart found that the reason some stores had lower sales of a promotional items was because the item was not on a store shelf when it was advertised, according to Walton.