Sunday, October 8, 2017

Walmart's use of RFID Technology

For Walmart, the use of strategic control systems is imperative to monitor their operations, and change their strategy as needed. The purpose of the strategic control is to watch a strategy as it is being implements, and to make essential alterations to that strategy (Pearce & Robinson, 2016). The use of RFID can help them to not only track the products through the supply chain, but also to determine the different consumers of different products (Bonson & Fenlon, 2007). This technology is better than a typical UPC code, which is a read-only technology and does not collect any data that would be useful for Walmart.

At Walmart, there are multiple ways that they use strategic surveillance, special alert control, and implementation controls.  Strategic surveillance would include monitoring both inside and outside of the company, special alert control is a sudden event that causes the strategy to change, and implementation control is assessing if the strategy should be changed depending the result on smaller actions (Pearce & Robinson, 2016).  For Walmart, some examples of the strategic surveillance would include not only watching their customers through surveillance cameras, but also security measures at the exits of the store. There are employees that physically check receipts to ensure that the items are paid for, and the alarm system at the door that prevent stolen goods. The use of RFID technology could create a smooth shopping experience, where consumers can skip the checkout and have the money automatically come from their bank accounts (Bonson & Fenlon, 2007).

Also, for Walmart, there must be controls in place for inventory coming in on trucks to ensure that the goods are received, and in the appropriate amounts. RFID allows for Walmart to indirectly monitor the incoming inventory. Special alert controls that Walmart may deal with are if there is a recall of a product, or inclement weather that effects the stores operations. This causes them to change their strategy to deal with those sudden issues. With implementation control, managers are given an objective, or different projects, that will help the company reach their overall strategic goal (Pearce & Robinson, 2016). An example of this would be when the managers hold meetings with the different departments to explain what needs to be completed each day/week/month. The results of the small projects will determine if the strategy of Walmart would need to change.

Improvements to suggest to the COO would include improving systems to track inventory, ensuring employees and the entire supply chain are as efficient as possible, and that all projects align with the overall strategy of the business. Aside from the usual use of surveillance cameras in areas of the store with the most thefts, the store could also ensure that employees on the floor are constantly monitoring consumers.  These employees could notify upper management if a consumer is stealing. Another thing would be to constantly check progress of projects to determine if the strategy needs to change. This includes comparing Walmart to their competition to create new ideas of how to remain relevant in a challenging market.  Just recently, Walmart began offering free 2-day shipping and even a discount for ordering online and picking up the items at the store. If Walmart were able to utilize RFID to its full potential, they would be able to easily track and monitor their inventory, collect data from the products, and implement new strategies based on the information provided by the products.

References
Pearce, J., Robinson, R. (2016-01-02). Strategic Management, 13th Edition. [Kaplan]. Retrieved from https://kaplan.vitalsource.com/#/books/0077807634/
Bonsor, K. & Fenlon, W. (2007). How RFID works. Retrieved from  http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/gadgets/high-tech-gadgets/rfid.htm

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