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Wal-Mart to Broaden RFID Test

DALLAS - Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced today that it will widen its trial of radio frequency identification tags in northern Texas to several more products, among them large items like bicycles and lawnmowers, according to the Dallas Morning News and other published reports.

This week the company has been letting its biggest 300 suppliers know about its plans to expand RFID. Six distribution centers and 250 Wal-Mart stores and Sam's Clubs are on course to adopt the technology by June 2005.

The majority of the stores will be in the Dallas area, but by then the trial will include at least one other region. According to a Wal-Mart spokesman, the retailer has heard from suppliers about where the test should be implemented next, but no decision has been made yet.

Wal-Mart began its RFID test in north Texas last month at its Sanger distribution center and seven local Wal-Mart supercenters.

Cases and pallets of 21 products from eight suppliers, among them Kimberly-Clark Corp., Gillette Co. and Kraft Foods, Inc., are part of this first phase, which is set to broaden by January to include Wal-Mart's 100 largest suppliers. An additional 37 suppliers have informed Wal-Mart that they'll be ready by the January deadline.

Wal-Mart said that by January 2006 it expects that all 200 top suppliers will be tag cases and pallets. In response to privacy advocates, who fear the technology could be used to collect personal information about consumers, the retailer says it can't and won't use the tags to spy on shoppers.
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