Staples Wondering If RFID ROI Is Nearterm Realistic

Staples' Canadian operation, Staples Business Depot, has been experimenting with RFID and has seen some sharp efficiency improvements, but is finding getting a clean financial ROI difficult.

"At the end of the day, we know additional cost is going to be passed down to us" from suppliers, Joe Soares, Staples' director of retail processes, said Thursday at the RFID Journal Live Canada conference, according to a report in IT Business. "To get (suppliers) on board, there is a substantial infrastructure investment" needed. "It's iffy as to whether we can get ROI."

Staples' Canadian operation started its RFID pilot in August 2003, working with PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Bell Canada. But the story quoted Ashroft as saying there was a brief halt to the project because of personnel changes, which turned out to be a good thing because it delayed the project long enough to deploy Gen2 technology. The group had aimed for 99.9 percent accuracy in RFID read rates and ended up with 97.41 percent once the pilot concluded, the story said. "Read rates were drastically improved overall, however. Before the trial, it took 17.75 minutes to register items on a pallet; using RFID scanners, it took an average of 2.7 minutes."