Metro CEO Calls for Single RFID Standard
By George Anderson
Hans-Joachim Körber, chairman and CEO of the Metro Group, is a radio frequency identification (RFID) prophet.
Mr. Körber’s company has been out front in the testing and adoption of RFID (Metro launched its Future Store in 2003) and he believes that the technology will benefit retailers across the board. He doesn’t even mind if his competitors realize the benefits from using the technology.
“We expressly welcome the [RFID] activities of our competitors,” he said at the opening of the Global Retail Technology Forum in Düseldorf, Germany, “because it is in our interests to achieve an international understanding of uniform standards across all companies and industries.”
Developing a uniform standard is essential if retailers and others using the technology are to achieve the full benefits from it, said Mr. Körber
“[RFID] is the future, and it will make retailers’ lives easier,” he said, “but there is one precondition: We have to go for common standards. We have to seize the opportunity today to have one worldwide standard. That’s why we push so much, on the EPC global board, for one standard that fits pharma, textiles or whatever.”
A single standard is necessary to speed up adoption of the technology. Metro’s CEO expressed disappointment that while global giants such as Johnson & Johnson and Procter and Gamble are employing RFID, many others are not. According to an RFID Journal report, Metro was looking for 100 suppliers to be using RFID by this point and less than half are actually up to speed.
While Metro’s CEO admitted that the company is still “more or less in the test phase” with RFID, he remains convinced of its power to reshape the shopping experience for consumers and the supply chain for retailers.
“By far, the key technology with the greatest potential to our businessand, therefore, of strategic importanceis radio frequency identification,” he said.
Moderator’s Comment: Is a single worldwide standard for RFID a precondition for widespread adoption of the technology? Do you agree with Hans-Joachim
Körber’s assessment that RFID is the technology with the greatest potential benefit for his company and other retailers?
“We have to have the same data on the tag… what we are looking for is one worldwide numbering system – say, 28 digits – that allows us to use RFID in
different industries. At the moment, we are still in that process,” said Mr. Körber. –
George Anderson – Moderator