During the trial, the tags will mostly be used in supply rooms, since only the delivery cases and pallets are being tagged, not individual items. However, three products with packaging that also serves as a delivery case will reach store shelves tagged: Hewlett-Packard Co.'s (HP's) ScanJet scanner and two HP Photosmart photo printers.
Wal-Mart said that these items will be marked with an EPCglobal symbol, signifying that the retailer is abiding by the privacy principals set down by EPCglobal, an industry group that develops standards for RFID technology in the global supply chain.
Through EPCglobal, Wal-Mart is working with other retailers such as Target Corp. and Tesco PLC in the U.K., and various airlines and pharmaceutical companies on RFID issues, Langford said.
Wal-Mart will be announcing additional RFID rollout plans in the third quarter of this year, with the U.K. and Canada being likely markets, Langford said. The company is keen to use the technology in Europe but is waiting for tags that include a global RFID standard, which is expected at the end of this year, he added.
In addition to HP, the seven other manufacturers participating in the initial Texas trial are The Gillette Company, Johnson & Johnson, Kimberly-Clark, Kraft Foods Inc., Nestle Purina Pet Care Company, The Procter & Gamble Company and Unilever PLC. Wal-Mart said that it expects more suppliers to join the trial shortly, including 37 small and medium-sized manufacturers that have asked to participate.