Last week’s news that Kohl’s has deployed RFID in all of its stores overshadowed some very compelling information shared by Macy’s during the NRF show in New York. (Read the Kohl’s news here.)
Macy’s is now using RFID on all shoe displays at 850 stores, which has allowed it to increase shoe display compliance from 65-70 percent to nearly 100 percent.
Last year Macy’s added men’s shoes and luggage to the display sampling solution. The men’s department is a very penetrated category, with most dress shirts, slacks, suits, belts and fashion accessories carrying RFID tags. Some specific vendor categories within home furnishings are also being tagged.
Pam Sweeney, senior vice president of logistics systems at Macy’s, says that additional products will be rolled out in 2014, although the main focus is to increase penetration with existing categories being tagged.
“In 2014 as we work with suppliers to get on board, we are going forward with additional categories,” says Sweeney. “Even more importantly, we are looking for greater penetration with our vendor base within existing [RFID-tagged] categories. We’re finding that the more penetrated we are in a total category, the higher the benefits and the better the results that we see.”
Sweeney says that 50 percent of Macy’s total replenished category vendor partners have committed to using RFID at some point in time. “Not all for the beginning of 2014,” she says, “but hopefully in 2014 and some in early 2015.”
Macy’s continues to work with its supplier base to demonstrate the benefits that other vendors are seeing from RFID. Some retailers and technology vendors at NRF admitted that some vendors are still not willing to fully embrace RFID, and that there is an ongoing back-and-forth negotiating process.
“We continue to push to try to show the value of what we are seeing in the categories for the vendors that are tagging,” says Sweeney. “As more retailers get on board and see the benefits that we are seeing, the supplier base will hopefully come along as well.”
Bill Hardgrave, Dean of the College of Business at Auburn University, says that research has shown that bar code inventory solutions can track 250-500 items per hour at an accuracy rate of 80-85 percent. By using RFID, a retailer can inventory 20,000 items per hour at 99 percent accuracy of higher.
Hardgrave says that 20 of the top 30 retailers in the U.S. are involved with RFID in some way or another. “If you are a retailer and you’re not in that group, you are already behind,” he says.