If you are a trend watcher you no doubt have RFID tags on your radar. Specifically, we're keeping an eye on RFID tags to speed checkouts at retail stores. The idea is that product manufacturers will include tags either embedded or attached to their products. Retailers will use these tags to track inventory and facilitate faster checkouts for consumers. No longer will each item have to be scanned manually, entire car loads of products can be scanned simultaneously.
The RFID in Japan blog reports on a trial in a Japanese convenience store that reports checkout transaction times of 10 seconds per customer! Imagine the applications.
Is it any wonder that one of the most interested parties in the growth and development of RFID technologies is Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart is constantly looking for ways to squeeze costs out of it's operations. Not only are there huge supply chain efficiencies to be gained but there are significant in-store ramifications as well. The greatest of these is of course labor savings. Even more customers can move threw fewer checkout lines. Fewer cashiers will be needed.
Don't think it will happen? Think the privacy wonks will delay the adoption of RFID tags? Automated RFID scanning checkout systems don't need breaks, health insurance or days off. More importantly they don't hire lawyers when they don't get those things. Wal-Mart's laser like focus on providing lower and lower prices will drive them to adopt the technology rapidly once the technology is ready(cheap enough)
If you work for Wal-Mart you best start planning for what you will do next once automation takes your job.