RFID Talk Blog

A rare RFID misstep for Macy’s?

Macy’s has far and away led the pack during the retail industry’s push to adopt RFID technology. The company has been a leader in innovation, pushing the boundaries of the technology to power strategies like omni-channel and fullfill-from-store.

At the GS1 Conference in June, Macy’s revealed that all of its stores are RFID enabled, a great accomplishment for the chain. After a recent shopping trip to a Macy’s store in Massachusetts, however, it is apparent that RFID-enabled doesn’t necessarily mean RFID is up and running in all departments at all stores.

In need of a wardrobe refresher, I stood in a long, slow-moving line to checkout on a recent August evening with several dress shirts, four pairs of slacks and a Nike pullover sweatshirt for my son. When it was finally my turn to checkout, I understood the reason the line was moving so slowly. To my surprise, the store associate behind the register was stripping “return tags” off a roll and sticking them on each item.

The "return label" is visible just above the price on the hang tag of this Kenneth Cole shirt purchased at Macy's.

When I inquired about the tags, the associate said it makes it much easier if I ever return a product. That may be true, but the process greatly detracted from the purchasing process, which could persuade some customers from shopping there in the future. In addition, the shirt sizes I checked were wildly inconsistent, with many of my size options unavailable (or perhaps in the wrong place), an indication that RFID has not likely been deployed at this particular location. RFID could have simplified the entire process.

The incident surprised me, as men’s clothing has long been identified as a sweet spot for RFID, especially within Macy’s. Earlier this month Macy’s announced that it is expanding its same-day delivery service to nine more cities this month, making the service available in 17 regions in the U.S. The retailer relies on super-accurate inventory accuracy enabled by RFID to power the same-day service offerings.

“Our ability to expand same-day delivery is rooted in local merchandise inventories at Macy’s stores, as well as a newly expanded delivery footprint of our partners at Deliv,” said R. B. Harrison, the chief omni-channel officer at Macy’s, in a statement.

At the GS1 Conference, Macy’s indicated that all categories and products will carry RFID tags by 2018.

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