The built-in RFID support means that the applications can automatically handle the longer codes that make up the industry-standard electronic product codes, which are the unique identifiers that Target, Wal-Mart, and others are using to distinguish products as part of their RFID mandates. "With RFID, there's an expanded field of information that has to be read and stored," says Bob Ferrari, director of business development for SAP's supply-chain-management software.
The additional RFID support is part of mySAP Supply Chain Management 4.1, the latest version of SAP's supply-chain-management applications. The RFID functions build on the vendor's previous RFID rollout in January: the SAP Auto-ID Infrastructure, which provides the links between RFID and back-end systems; SAP Event Management, software within mySAP SCM that helps companies monitor and filter exceptions to their processes that could be triggered by RFID or other data; and SAP Enterprise Portal.
SAP has also added to the new version of the mySAP supply-chain-management suite what it's calling responsive replenishment. This capability is geared toward meeting the needs of consumer packaged-goods companies that want to be able to use and act on more real-time sales data so replenishment is based on actual demand rather than forecasts. Responsive replenishment also is designed to help companies keep up with promotions.
The MySAP suite now can consider real-time point-of-sale data, which can be compared with any promotions that may be going on. "The supply-chain planner can be much more intelligent around the planning of normal demand and promotions," Ferrari says.
The new features are designed to help retailers get closer to a demand-driven supply chain, something more are trying to do, according to AMR Research. In a recent report, the consulting and research firm said more retailers are sharing point-of-sale data, market analysis, promotional activities, and other information with their manufacturers to more accurately forecast demand and bring products to the shelf.