Shops start thinking green
For most managers, nothing is more interesting than a business case that helps them save money and protect the environment at the same time. As it turns out, RFID is paving a way to meet both these goals simultaneously.
One of the world’s largest retail chains announced in 2005 that among its other environmental goals, it wants to create zero waste. It later identified RFID as a technology that can help it raise efficiency at its stores.
By using RFID, retailers can track their inventory in greater detail than they do today with the barcode. Most retailers use simple tags that carry only a unique ID, the EPC. RFID readers collect the ID numbers at certain reading points, such as at the dock door of the warehouse. Computers then determine at what time which goods were shipped and received. This level of detail allows retailers to analyze their shipping and handling practices precisely so they can cut down on unnecessary trips to and from the distribution centre. This immediately reduces emissions.
Being prepared for incoming goods
Of course, retailers will always need to move goods from farm to market or from factories and ports to stores. The question is how efficiently they do it. Some retailers and logistics companies are experimenting with the use of RFID together with GPS to track the location of individual shipments in real time so they can prepare for trucks’ arrivals to cut down on the time that trucks must wait to be unloaded.
Driven by demand
It all goes back to the basic principles of supply and demand. Essentially, the inventory data collected by RFID helps retailers match their supply with the demands of their customers. Better matches mean less waste – i.e. smaller amounts of food that spoils and must be transported to the dump or smaller amounts of goods that must be shipped to outlet stores for final liquidation.
In addition, detailed inventory information collected via RFID can increase customer satisfaction by keeping shelves fully stocked, resulting in fewer carbon-burning trips to the store for you and me.
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