METRO Expands RFID 'Tag It Easy!' Program

DUSSELDORF, Germany -- European retailer Metro Group plans to expand its "Tag It Easy!" Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) pilot program, during which it will enable an additional 70 consumer goods suppliers in China and Vietnam to apply RFID labels on shipments to its facilities in Germany.

The company held a kick-off event last week for suppliers in Hong Kong to celebrate the second phase of the pilot.

“Our Tag It Easy! RFID solution is a breakthrough, showing how integrated RFID solutions benefit both suppliers and retailer,” said Dr. Gerd Wolfram, managing director of MGI Metro Group information technology.

"Tag It Easy!" is part of Metro’s advanced logistics Asia (ALA) initiative to jointly enhance logistics processes with its Asian suppliers using RFID to track merchandise throughout the supply chain. Because many suppliers in the region have limited technology capabilities, Metro developed the program to assist them with utilizing RFID within their operations. Through its partnership with Checkpoint Systems, Metro will provide pre-printed RFID labels to suppliers in the region so that they can initiate the tracking process with a minimal technology investment.

For the pilot, Metro selected established suppliers that had worked closely with the company in the past. In order to ensure a diverse product mix Metro also chose partners based on their geographic location and the type of products they manufactured.

The Checkpoint RFID labels store the serial shipping container code (SSCC), which is read at several points along the supply chain between Hong Kong and Unna, Germany. Metro receives an electronic advance shipping notice detailing the contents of each shipment, and the suppliers receive automatic proof-of-delivery notifications. Suppliers order the RFID labels through the company’s global supplier portal Metro Link.

By using RFID to provide real-time visibility, Metro eliminates manual counting and checking of export packages. This results in a more efficient supply chain, which helps to reduce out-of-stock situations at the retail store, improving the customer shopping experience.

Suppliers benefit through enhanced proof-of-delivery information and more accurate shipping data, and are also able to position themselves as reliable business partners in the highly competitive consumer goods market.

Metro said it has standardized on UHF EPC Gen 2 tags for this project, and so far has reported read rates meeting its expectation in the early stages of the pilot.

The first phase of the project, launched in May, included 30 Chinese suppliers. Phase 2 will launch in early November, with the first tagged shipments expected in December. Metro said it will conduct a three-month evaluation to explore other opportunities for improvement.

Metro Group operates approximately 2,400 outlets in 30 countries, and employs 270,000 associates. Its stores operate under the banners of Metro/Makro Cash & Carry, Real hypermarkets and Extra supermarkets, Media Markt, and Saturn.

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