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November 30, 2004

Wal-Mart is a Bully with RFID

I was reading Phil's comments on the CIO feature article, RFID - Tag, you're Late and got to thinking that although it's interesting to see how Wal-Mart is driving RFID forward, the section that stood out most to me in the article was about how Wal-Mart treats it's suppliers:

Wal-Mart's announcement in June 2003 of the January 2005 deadline caught many in the supplier community off guard. Some didn't even know what RFID stood for; others dismissed the announcement as grandstanding.

So when Wal-Mart invited the top 100 suppliers to Bentonville in November 2003 for more specifics about its RFID master plan, there was speculation among suppliers and business journalists that Wal-Mart would back off the deadline.

That didn't happen.

During the presentation, Wal-Mart executives defined what the EPC would be, what class of chips they would accept and which three distribution centers would start accepting RFID deliveries. The suppliers, according to one participant, listened in stunned silence. As he recalled, it was like attending a session on nuclear physics.

Yet there were few questions, and "they were just for clarification," says the supply chain executive, who attended the session. "There was no pushback."

Wal-Mart then reaffirmed its deadline and announced it would not give any price breaks to suppliers who complied. "And no one raised their hand and said, Excuse me?" recalls the supply chain executive.

This sounds like a company who is asking suppliers to grovel and try to appease the master enough to not fall under it's wrath and be cut out.

I've disliked Wal-Mart for some time . . . this doesn't help.

Posted by mike at November 30, 2004 8:02 PM