Applying RFID tags in the distribution center is a simple process, right? So simple, it’s been referred to as “slap & stick,” with the whole process of applying the radio-frequency ID tags and shipping referred to as “slap & ship.” But hold on! It’s really not all that simple, according to Dedham, MA-based ARC Advisory Group. ARC conducted a Best Practices Study, getting responses from 24 companies that were actively investing in EPC RFID. RFID tags can be applied at the packaging line or the DC — and, in the ARC sample, 85% of the facilities where tags were applied were distribution centers. However, says Steve Banker, Service Director for Supply Chain Management at ARC Advisory Group, “even when tags are applied at the DC, the term ‘slap and ship’ does not fairly reflect what is going on at many DCs. There is both more automation, and more process variation, than has been generally recognized.”
Mobile handset sales will continue to grow over the next five years, according to a recent report on the future of mobile handsets by London-based wireless industry analysts ARC Group. The report, Future Mobile Handsets 2004-2009, says that the global mobile handset market expanded by 16%, with consumers buying 561 million new mobiles over the course of 2004, up from 482.5 million in 2003. This growth rate will gradually slow down over the next five years as the market saturates, with expected growth figures of 10% in 2005, 7.7% in 2006, 6.4% in 2007, 4.8% in 2008 and 2.6% in 2009. Despite the decline, annual handset sales are forecast to reach 767 million by 2009.
With the New Year here and the Christmas rush over, now is the perfect time to bring inventory levels down. According to Distribution Digest, a good way to accomplish that is to lower your level of service. While that may also sound like a good way to lower your level of business, the Digest claims it can be done without driving customers away — and that offering too much service can result in storing more inventory than needed.
The Association for Retail Technology Standards (ARTS) of the National Retail Federation (NRF) has announced the initial public release of the Time Punch schema and version 2.0 of the Customer schema. The IXRetail Time Punch XML schema is designed to support any retailer, regardless of how its employee data is stored. Using vendor-independent standard XML messages, the Time Punch schema allows retailers to track attendance and task assignments for their employees. These standard XML messages enable a retailer to manage the complexity of communication between other worker management applications such as Task Management, Human Resources, Payroll, or even POS and ERP systems. The Time Punch schema will support the Workforce Management (WFM, Time & Attendance, Staff Scheduling and Task Management) RFP template and is the second of two schemas designed to facilitate integration of workforce management applications.
Consumers thinking about buying a computer or electronic product obviously are not making snap decisions; they like to have time to think. That rather intuitive conclusion is confirmed by a comScore Networks (Reston, VA) study revealing the impact of search engine usage on the online and offline buying process. The study, sponsored by the Overture division of Yahoo!, analyzed the timing of search engine usage and the role of different search term categories in the shopping process among consumers searching for electronics and computer products.
It’s become a familiar mantra: reduce costs, improve productivity, improve ROI. Michael Miles, president of Staff Management, a provider of vendor on premise staffing and management solutions, says that while many companies handle staffing in-house, HR is an important area that, if not properly executed, can create a great deal of wasted management time and unnecessary expense. By outsourcing the recruiting and staffing process to experts, Miles suggests, many companies can maintain a better workforce, reduce high recruitment costs and improve ROI.
Selecting the right merchandise. Effectively operating stores in great locations. Adapting quickly to changing market conditions and tastes. It may not sound like rocket science, but these are keys to what makes some retailers wildly successful — while others struggle to maintain market share. They are among the lessons in the Top 100 Global Retailers of 2003, a new report from Ernst & Young LLP that appears in the December issue of Chain Store Age.
1. Translation: Show Me The Money! Companies that are actively investing in EPC RFID (Electronic Product Code Radio Frequency Identification) are doing so because they have to, not because they think they’re actually going to see a return on investment (ROI) anytime soon. In ARC Advisory Group’s Emerging Practices study, only one of 24 companies believed it could have under a two-year payback period. Ninety-five percent of the respondents believed the payback period would be greater than two years.
2. Trade Associations Team to Address RFID Skills Shortage
What do you know about RFID technology? Not much? You’re not alone. Many companies eager to adopt the technology are beginning to be slowed in their efforts by a scarcity of qualified RFID integrators. Two leading trade associations are now teaming up in an attempt to address an industry-wide shortage of professionals knowledgeable about RFID technology. The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) and AIM Global (the Association for Automatic Identification and Mobility) announced they are working together to develop a vendor-neutral, multi-dimensional certification program for RFID technology.