The shelf that takes your photo

Gillette has been one of the companies responsible for driving the development of RFID technology. Shrinkage (a mixture of loss and theft) was the main reason for Gillette’s interest in RFID technology. Trials have been conducted in a Tesco’s supermarket in Cambridge and at a Wal-Mart’s distribution centre in Massachusetts.In the first trial, tagged packs of Gillette blades are tracked in order to prevent shrinkage as the system automatically photographs consumers as they took Gillette razors from the shelf. Customers were secretly photographed again when they left the store with the RFID-tagged products.
    
A second trial, which started in January 2003, Gillette attached RFID tags to Mach 3 Turbo razor blades that are dispatched to two Wal-Mart stores equipped with ‘smart-shelves’ capable of reading the chips and tracking the goods’ location. When stocks on store shelves decrease, an alert is sent to refill them and an order is sent by the system for store replenishment.
    
Wal-Mart, however, has called off the testing of smart shelves with Gillette razors due to changes in Wal-Mart’s business priorities that will remain concentrated on deploying RFID in its distribution centres to track pallets and cases of goods.  
    
Additionally Gillette has recently backed away from the use of tags on an item level due to complaints that the chips would infringe shoppers' privacy and could be used to track products even after they left stores.  Public concern related with privacy issues will be also a barrier to item level deployment of RFID and is already causing changes in intended strategies. Levi and Benetton have come under consumer pressure about so called “spychipping” of clothing. Gillette did not now expect RFID tags to be used to monitor individual products in stores for at least ten years. The chips will instead be planted in pallets and cases so that batches of products can be tracked between the factory and the store. These last developments clearly demonstrate the difficulties that RFID tagging on an item level is still to face and enhance the focus to be made on the use of RFID tagging on a case and pallet level to improve supply chain visibility.