As of today, the use of RFID in the consumer industry has focused mostly on the physical movement of products from the manufacturers to major retailers. Compared with barcodes, RFID tags not only identify the product but also provide continuous monitoring of the product. But from manufacturer’s point of view, the focus had earlier been more on increasing consumer base than achieving an increased operating efficiency by tagging their products with an eroded profit margin. Considering the tagging levels across the supply chains in the consumer industry, while consumer units comprising products and individual items and traded units consisting of packaged products and boxes have shown an increased compliance, the distribution and transportation units have yet to take it up on a similar scale. The warehousing and transportation is yet to embrace this technology with the result that gains are marginal when compared to what has already been achieved due to barcodes of the product.
While manufacturers across the consumer industry recognise the business benefits to be achieved through RFID technology, they can be grouped into early, medium and late adopter. A survey that sought to categorise their priority for RFID with respect to other initiatives by their company, 18% indicated it as a low priority, 54% as medium priority and 28% as high priority. What makes the implementation a still more arduous task is the changing standards which are yet to agree upon the standard format and data content that is to be present on a RFID chip. Besides the budget and cost issues inhibiting the penetration of RFID technology in consumer industry, the technology concerns and mandate requirements are yet to be fully finalised for the consumer industry to embrace RFID technology without any fears. The consumer industry is thus in a “wait and watch” policy for the technology to mature although they have devoted some budget to some pilot projects on RFID migration.
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Descriptive statistics from RFID survey. 2 August, 2009. <http://www1.baylor.edu/surveys/RFID/rfid.htm>
Ryan, Thomas K. RFID in the consumer Industries: Being a Winner, not a Follower. 2005