One Trillion Tags in 2015
Item level tagging driven by mass retailers
These are some of the reasons why we stick to our forecast that it may be 2015 before one trillion items are RFID tagged in one year. Certainly, mass item-level tagging seems inevitable and there is near consensus on this. It is hard to find an expert who thinks it will never happen. It is just that the technical and financial challenges are considerable and even dealing with privacy objections, standards, production capacity, harmonisation of radiation laws around the world and so on will take time. Many retail and RFID analysts predict that it could take more than a decade for item-level tagging to gain wide usage among retailers and then it will be primarily the mass retailers. Metro Group, a German retailer, is piloting item-level tagging, but CEO Hans-Joachim Körber said it will take 10 to 15 years to gain universal acceptance.
Gene Alvarez, of analysts Meta Group, says we might not see universal item level RFID tagging for a long time but this has no implications for the selective adoption of RFID in the meantime. He sees this as a "coordinated symphony" with technology suppliers working together. However, he sees Intel becoming the primary technology provider. This is an interesting prediction, because although Intel has recently initiated several collaborations in the industry, it has yet to receive a volume order for RFID chips and does not offer system integration.
What is happening today
Even today there is a lot of activity with item level tagging - such as 70 million library books, Wal-Marts mandate for type 2 (narcotic) drug tracking (ended June 2004), blood bags, post, smart shelves (e.g. Tesco DVDs), and Marks & Spencer clothing. High value, high shrinkage items will be tagged first, including liquer, perfume, DVDs and CDs. Tesco have already asked Meadwestvaco to quote for smart shelves for DVDs for all their UK stores to monitor stockouts and therefore increase sales by 2-4%. Item Level RFID is the mount everest of the RFID industry.