Wal-Mart\u2019s Svengali-like influence over the retail industry can\u2019t be underestimated and shouldn\u2019t come as a surprise, considering the company\u2019s size and the volume of its business. "One in five retail transactions in America is conducted at a Wal-Mart. Their supply chain touches 17 percent of the U.S. GDP and approximately 11 percent of the global GDP," says John Parkinson, chief technologist for Cap Gemini Ernst & Young. Parkinson compares Wal-Mart to an anchor tenant in a shopping mall, but the mall in this case is the whole world. When Wal-Mart speaks, everyone listens. Now, the discounter is asking its top 100 suppliers to put RFID tags on the pallets and cases of goods they ship to Wal-Mart?and to do so by January 2005. "They\u2019re able to cut through a lot of what would otherwise take forever to agree on and say, \u2019Do it this way,\u2019" says Parkinson.And most observers believe that\u2019s exactly the way it will be done.\n-M.L.