Wal-Mart’s Svengali-like influence over the retail industry can’t be underestimated and shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering the company’s 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’re able to cut through a lot of what would otherwise take forever to agree on and say, ’Do it this way,’” says Parkinson.
And most observers believe that’s exactly the way it will be done.