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Target Plans Nationwide RFID Rollout to Elevate Guest Experience

Discount retailer Target said it will roll out radio frequency identification (RFID) technology later this year, and developing this behind-the-scenes technology will “quietly help Target stay ahead of guests’ changing behaviors.”

The technology, a type of automatic identification (auto-ID), like a barcode or key fob, reduces the amount of time and effort needed to input data. But where a barcode requires manual scanning to capture data, RFID readers can capture data with little to no human involvement. But, more importantly, it’s key to inventory accuracy.

In a post on its Bullseye View blog this week, Keri Jones, Target’s executive vice president of global supply chain and operations, outlined the retailer’s plan to start using RFID.

“We’re now working with key vendors on a fast-tracked timeline to begin inserting a “smart label” on price tags that will help Target improve our inventory accuracy and enhance our ability to keep stores in stock,” Jones said.

Target expects the technology to provide greater visibility into its inventory, help guest better find out whether an item is in their local store or one nearby, and improve fulfillment of online orders placed for in-store pickup, which so far account for 15 percent of Target’s e-sales.

The retailer’s RFID rollout will start in a small number of stores later this year and extend to all Target stores in 2016.

Jones said at the outset, Target’s RFID program will include its women’s, baby and kids’ apparel and home décor categories as those are some of its most popular store pickup items. The extended rollout will be one of the largest RFID projects in retail, Jones said.

Further stressing its belief in RFID’s potential for retail, Target sponsored the RFID Lab at Auburn University, which opened a new facility Wednesday. Jones said Target will work with staff and students at the university to explore more ways RFID-enabled tags can enhance the shopping experience.

“My team and I are thrilled about technology’s considerable role in upping Target’s operations, and in particular, bringing near-complete store inventory accuracy within reach for the first time with RFID. Because at the end of the day, the technology we use to manage the supply chain helps ensure our guests find what they’re looking for,” Jones said.

She added, “As more and more of our guests shop us online, they expect a great, seamless experience between digital and stores. And adopting technology like RFID is one big step Target is taking to make sure we deliver.”