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Macy’s will deploy item-level RFID tagging at seven stores next month

Beginning next month, Macy’s will roll out item level RFID technology across seven stores and will start tagging several product categories, including men’s jeans and women’s lingerie. The focus will be on product segments that are typically high margin items that are difficult to keep in stock.

In addition, the retailer will pilot RFID at two additional stores with the hope of being able to rely on those brick locations as backup fulfillment centers for online orders that are unable to be filled at its online distribution centers in Tennessee, Connecticut and Arizona. The increased visibility at the store-level would allow Macy’s to rely on retail centers for fulfillment.

“Having gone through the EDI revolution, the reward of RFID will trump anything that we’ve done in the last 15 to 20 years,” says Peter Longo, president of logistics and operations for Macy’s. “It is that big, and RFID is truly a transformational technology and will take us to a place that is very different than where we are today.”

Longo, speaking at the NRF show in New York on Sunday, said that the RFID expansion will include “select categories of the business that tend to be the most opportunistic to take advantage of RFID, such as SKUs that are color and size intensive in very replenishment-oriented businesses.”

Longo said the expansion will follow on the successful piloting of RFID at its Bloomingdales store in the Soho area of New York City, and will help the firm to “procedurally learn how to be good at using RFID technology.”

Many retailers are choosing to tag  jeans early on because demin works well with RFID, and because many jeans suppliers are already tagging product. Another major initiative for Macy’s in 2011 will be to start mining the data it collects from RFID.

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