It's not clear how many suppliers initially will participate. Factors such as the size of the supplier or whether they offer unique items will likely play into the decision about which companies will be in the first wave of RFID deployment. Target has told suppliers that its RFID project will begin with one distribution center in Texas and 10 nearby stores in the Dallas/Forth Worth area in the late fall, with the intention to quickly expand to more than 50 stores by June.
Requirements identified to date include applying RFID tags to cartons and pallets shipped to regional distribution centers and using 96-bit tags based on EPCglobal standards. An EPCglobal logo is required on cartons and pallets, all current markings and bar codes for pallets and cartons will continue to be applied, and EDI ship notice manifests will still be required.
But according to a source, some suppliers are concerned that the retailer won't complete its data-synchronization strategy before its RFID project gets off the ground. Target, a founding member of the Worldwide Retail Exchange, a business-to-business exchange for retailers and suppliers, had invested nearly $10 million in a project the WWRE was heading to create a pool of synchronized product data that all manufacturers and retailers could adhere to. Participating with similar investments were 10 other major retailers: Albertson's, Auchan, Casino, CVS, Kingfisher, K-Mart, Marks Spencer, Royal Ahold, Tesco, and Safeway. In 2003, the source says, it told the WWRE Target would pull back to concentrate on its RFID plans. Ultimately, the decision to move forward with RFID led Target to UCCnet, which plans its own product data synchronization effort, more widely known in the United States.
On Aug. 1, standards groups EAN International, which has its roots in Europe, and the U.S.-based Uniform Code Council launched the Global Data Synchronization Network global registry in anticipation of the European and U.S. nonprofit organizations merging their product-data- synchronization standards to operate under the GS1 name starting Jan. 1, 2005. The GDSN registry will be a repository of synchronized product data from UCCnet, WWRE, and business-to-business exchange Transora, as well as others. "Data synchronization is a critical prerequisite for supply-chain collaboration applications such as RFID," says Dave Garcia, Transora's VP of global marketing.
Target declined to comment.