How to Comply with Walmart’s RFID Mandate & More: For Canada Suppliers

Written by JW Franz

Walmart’s influence within the retail sector is undeniable. Over recent decades, the giant has become a source of trends and standards that ripple across the industry.

For many suppliers, aligning with Walmart’s practices has become a must. As one of the largest global retailers, the stores often represent a major portion of their sales and market presence. So when they roll out a practice, suppliers take notice. And when our neighbors to the south get a mandate, Canada’s Walmart suppliers sit up and pay attention, too.

In the U.S., Walmart has been rolling out radio frequency identification (RFID) source-tagging requirements for suppliers. The RFID approval process is handled by Auburn University’s RFID Lab and ensures that tags used by suppliers meet specifications and exceed quality and performance requirements.

But an investment in implementing RFID source-tagging can be about much more than meeting requirements to keep products on Walmart’s shelves. Suppliers that implement RFID can take advantage of its proven improvements in accurately counting and managing inventory, automating business processes, and handling information.

So while compliance requires an investment, the ROI of that investment can ripple out to include operational efficiencies and modernization improvements that can transform businesses.

WALMART’S RFID INITIATIVE

 The introduction of an Auburn University RFID tag approval process for Canadian Walmart suppliers brings with it a wave of transformation in inventory management and supply chain efficiency. The RFID initiative doesn’t represent just another procedural hoop for suppliers; it’s a strategic enhancement in logistics and supply chain management that’s been proven across Walmart’s U.S. operations.

Think about it this way: Why are retailers so committed to RFID? It’s because they understand the value of accurate cycle count and inventory data to improve their operations—and they’ve identified RFID as the right technology for the moment.

So suppliers are now tasked with embedding RFID tags into product packaging, labels, or tags, as appropriate based on merchandise and package formats. While the initial investment may feel like a compliance hurdle, RFID creates a whole new set of opportunities for better inventory visibility and management, and deeper supply chain insights that can drive efficiencies that support a stronger bottom line.

ACHIEVING RFID COMPLIANCE: PRACTICAL STEPS FOR WALMART SUPPLIERS

 Major retailers leading the transformation have developed structured paths for suppliers to implement RFID source-tagging. The first step is understanding the specific requirements laid out by the retailers: types of tags to be used and the acceptable options for labeling, tagging, or embedding in packaging.

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It can be helpful to get expert guidance in procuring the right tags or labels, the technologies needed to support them, and the training to ensure proper use. Tags need to be validated to ensure they meet Walmart’s standards, and suppliers are required to encode tags in conformance with the GS1® Electronic Product Code (EPC) Standard.

BEYOND COMPLIANCE: RFID AS A STRATEGIC ADVANTAGE

 It goes without saying that compliance is reason enough for most suppliers to implement RFID source-tagging. Getting products on the shelves of leading retailers is often a matter of success or failure. But product manufacturers have much more than compliance to gain from their RFID implementation.

Adding supportive technology in key locations throughout operations can deliver unprecedented visibility and control over inventory. The ability to accurately track products at the item level, in real time, can significantly reduce the need for surplus, “just-in-case” inventory. That improves efficiency and utilization of warehouse footprints—and enables suppliers to sell down much closer to the last item in stock.

That can also help suppliers ensure their products are always available on store shelves. Consumers get the experience of a dependable brand and keep coming back for more. In fact, RFID is a cornerstone in enabling responsive omnichannel fulfillment—a necessity in today’s market, where consumers expect seamless shopping experiences across online and offline platforms.

By embracing RFID, suppliers not only meet retailer mandates; they also equip themselves with a key technology to drive their data-driven digital transformation, and the competitive edge that comes with new levels of operational efficiency. Looking ahead, RAIN RFID technology is poised to transform the management of charge backs and claims disputes by delivering unparalleled visibility and accuracy in tracking inventory and shipments at the item level. Real-time tracking will help ensure that in the future, retailers and suppliers have access to the same data. So they’ll have greater clarity, fewer discrepancies, and a more transparent and efficient resolution process.

MAXIMIZE THE BENEFITS OF RFID IMPLEMENTATION

For suppliers to major retailers, it’s easy to see the immediate need to comply with source-tagging requirements to keep products on shelves. But it’s smart to look beyond compliance and put your RFID investment to good use in your own operations. You may even be surprised at how seamlessly you can integrate RFID into your current warehouse management system—and the countless processes RFID can help you automate.

RFID represents a versatile tech investment that can deliver immediate, dramatic benefits that start with improvements in inventory accuracy. Better data leads to more informed decision-making and resource allocation, making RFID a technology upgrade that can truly make your business a better supply chain partner.

Start exploring ways to get the most out of your investments in RFID. Click below to download Barcoding’s free guide today.