RFID (radio frequency identification) technology has been regarded as one of the most persistent computing technologies in history. Although RFID concept is not up-to-the-minute; it has its origins in military applications during World War II, when the British Air Force used RFID technology to tell apart joined aircraft from enemy aircraft with radar (Asif and Mandviwalla, 2005).
RFID tags come in a huge range of designs and have several unusual useful features in the forms of power source, carrier frequency, read range, data storage capacity, memory type, size, operational life, and cost. They might either be read just or read/write proficient or be active, passive or semi-passive depending on the mode in which they drive operating power and send out data to the reader. Active tags have a minuscule entrenched battery from which they draw power, facilitating superior communication range, higher data transmission rates and larger data storage competence than inert tags. Since they do not include a power source, passive tags are less costly than dynamic tags (Asif and Mandviwalla, 2005). Nevertheless, the choice of the suitable tags depends on the objectives of every business application. RFID readers might comprise a read or read/write module; whilst requested, they can drive the pre-configured location and the detection of an entity to a computer, which can kick off business processes robotically (Ngai et al., 2005) .
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The most noteworthy interest in RFID technology is in the retail industry. On the other hand, RFID technology has drawn a great deal of attention over the years, with a boom in retail industry demands (Srivastava, 2004). In order to manage the huge demands, a retailer around the world necessitates increase efficiency and timeliness. Is what they are supposed to adopt RFID technology in their supply chain?
The purpose of this research is to examine the effectiveness of RFID technology in the supply chain of UK retail sector. The research is to be conducted with special reference to Marks & Spencer.
To study the needs of technological application in the supply chain of UK retail sector.
To study the effectiveness RFID technology in the supply chain of UK retail sector.
Why technological applications are needed in the supply chain of UK retail sector?
Hoe effective is RFID technology in the supply chain of UK retail sector?
REVIEW OF LITERATURE
Supply chain management is the incorporation of major business processes amongst a set-up of inter-reliant suppliers, manufacturers, distribution centers, and retailers in a bid to advance the pour of goods, services, and information from original suppliers to end user customers, with the points of plummeting system-wide costs whereas upholding necessary service levels (Christopher 1998; Simchi-Levi, Kaminsky, and Simchi-Levi 2000). Instant supplier and customer relationship actions have therefore played a vital role in the advance of effective supply chain management strategies.
Supply chain management strategy in the literature review, is perfectly a link of internally focused, mature, and successful supplier/customer-oriented capabilities all through the supply chain networks. Various fresh studies have discussed this relationship amid these boundary-spanning activities and supply chain management (Stank, Keller, and Daugherty 2001). Even though supplier management and customer relationship management is judged as a division of supply chain management strategy, other value-adding concepts are too incorporated in the forms of information system incorporation and top-level planning and control actions. Though, text proposes that firms ought to possess a superior level of supply side and distribution efficiency previous to initiating supply chain management strategies. Therefore, it is highlighted that supplier management and customer relationship strategies are certainly related to supply chain management strategy.
RFID technology has been hailed for its knack to facilitate the automatic credentials and data capture of the tagged items with no human intervention, and for its power to revolutionise supply chains across various industries. Whilst the tagging of individual products is still several years away, it stands for the end state that several companies hope to attain in order to put on the full benefits of the RFID (Ngai et al., 2005). Realising this function, nevertheless, is dependent to some level on consumer recognition of the technology. That approval is probable to depend on how well companies instruct consumers regarding the veracity of the RFID. Whether the industry not succeed to instruct consumers regarding the RFID, that role will default to consumer advocacy groups, which have by now raised the issue of privacy as the foremost issue (Bhuptani and Moradpour 2005). It is vital, consequently, that companies put on an understanding of the consumer outlook nearby the RFID so they can set the point in a constructive mode. With the existing consumer-related debate about the RFID focused chiefly on to evaluate what consumers think of the technology on a broader basis and how much they in fact recognize regarding this.
RFID facilitates non-contact identification, control and tracking for all goods and items all through the whole value chain. The range for optimising processes is vast and the savings potential is massive. The RFID is not a pastry in the sky and firm can make use of it nowadays for manufacture, distribution and retail, across any company in the value chain (Taylor 2003). For the first time, the RFID offers a total control over the whole flow of goods. Ready with a matchless fingerprint, each solo product can be recognised and traced at any time all through its journey from manufacturer to consumer.
The RFID functions automatically and does not necessitate contact or line-of-sight for operation. Incorporated with the data network, goods can be recognized in real-time over any distance – across continents and even global, if necessary. The RFID can be flexibly executed. For instance, firm can begin with storage management and enlarge the system bit by bit to cover its whole internal materials management (Taylor 2003). The RFID can smoothly cultivate to congregate firm’s demands. This fascinating technology is established and hardened. By applying the established standards, the RFID is well matched with any network. And the RFID is of most benefit whilst used across the board by each solo partner along the value chain – from the manufacturer to the branch manager, working together hand-in-hand for fast, secure, free flowing and cost-saving processes (Bhuptani and Moradpour 2005).
Retailers’ benefit from a striking increase in the competence of their materials management, and individual retailers can anticipate savings in storage costs and lesser losses resulting from stealing or accounting faults. Over the last few years, the RFID has turned out to be resolutely established in an extensive range of retail supply chains. There are two major target benefits of the RFID (Taylor 2003): Increased customer satisfaction: Gone are the days of unfilled shelves, since a well-liked product was stuck somewhere in the supply chain. As necessary, added product information can be accessed and modern pointer systems aid orientation in the course of an attractive consumer environment and perk up shopping competence. More efficiency in the flow of goods: Which products got stuck in the delivery chain and where? Which article is hanging around in which storage facility? The RFID gives answers at the click of a mouse and as well ensures a fast and accurate inventory control of the incoming and outgoing goods (Srivastava, 2004).
The RFID optimizes the necessary core processes in the flow of goods for both the supply and demand parts. Ever since the mid 1990s, the RFID has been productively used in a complete range of capital and consumer goods supply chains(Srivastava, 2004). The prospect for the future is incredible. From supplier management to production to warehousing, the technology abridges the internal materials management such as for incoming goods, warehouse management, stocktaking, commissioning with that of delivering finished products and purchasing raw and packing materials (Bhuptani and Moradpour 2005). In addition, the RFID implies one can track production right from the begin in the course of every stage of the value chain. Targeted control of the individual storage racks as one requires it and likewise the accurate production arrangement assist to minimise wasteful stockpiling and trim down costs.
Making use of the RFID in-store facilitates consistent optimisation of numerous process involved in shelf management. From now on, one can avoid unavailable situations since information regarding stock levels and reordering behaviour is continually updated. Above-average turnover or differences in stock levels are recognized fast, and restocking orders are sent. One can effortlessly and perfectly verify the data on expiry and the best-before dates. The RFID readers and displays mean prices are simpler to inform and more customer-friendly (Taylor 2003). Furthermore, multimedia applications will make it likely to notify customers in a targeted and more personalized mode regarding products and promotional campaigns. Simultaneously, this automatically generates reliable data for future activities.
Utilizing the RFID, stocktaking (in the warehouse and at the POS) can be wholly automated. This can be completed at any time and any place at the push of a button (Srivastava, 2004). One can settle on the location and volumes of stock and precisely recognize every single product as necessary. This creates it simple to find goods stored in the wrong place. Special handheld readers mean one can make specific inputs and checks.
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However, in order to capitalise on the potential necessitates a clear long-standing corporate strategy as following (Bhuptani and Moradpour 2005): checking the applications and potentials that the RFID technologies tender businesses; taking part in pilot projects consisting a full range of companies to assemble priceless experience; and using globally approved standards for the consumer goods industry, opening with their gradual introduction.
Every research is based on various fundamental assumptions regarding what composes valid research and which research methods are suitable. In order to conduct research, it is vital to recognize what these assumptions are. These fundamental assumptions help out the researcher to name the research philosophy and then opt for the fitting research methods and further data collection (Remenyi et al, 1998). The research philosophy is about the research approach to be adopted, which is named as positivist, interpretive and critical (Robson, 2000). Positivists normally assume that realism is objectively specified and can be explained by quantifiable properties, which are self-determining of the researchers and their instruments (Remenyi et al, 1998). Interpretive researchers begin with the assumption that access to realism, specified or socially created, are just through social constructions in the forms of language, perception and shared meanings (Remenyi et al, 1998).
The fundamental assumption of this research is to examine the effectiveness of RFID technology in the supply chain of UK retail sector. This fundamental assumption suggests the researcher to have access to realism of application of RFID technology in the supply chain of UK retail sector. Therefore, this research is categorized as an interpretive research. An interpretive research requires conducting the research opting both qualitative and quantitative research methods, hence in this research both the qualitative and quantitative research methods will be put into application.
Qualitative research, with its focus on acknowledging composite, interconnected and/or changing phenomena, is primarily relevant to the challenges of conducting management research. Qualitative research is characterized by focus on unfolding, recognizing, and elucidating composite phenomenon – on studying, for illustration, the relationships, patterns and configurations amongst factors; or the framework in which activities take place. The spotlight is on recognizing the full multi-dimensional, vibrant depiction of the theme of study (Neuman, 2004).
This research necessitates both qualitative and quantitative research, where qualitative research require recognizing the research issues as propositions, and qualitative research require to examine those propositions quantitatively, through collecting empirical quantitative data. The research issues are to be identified through reviewing the literature (qualitative data) and quantitative data is to be collected in relation to identified issues through approaching firms UK retail sector (particularly Marks & Spencer).
The two most ordinary methods of data collection are secondary and primary (Saunders et al, 2003). Since a deep rooted research requires both secondary and primary data, therefore, both secondary and primary data is to be collected in this research.
Secondary data represents the realistic data that can be obtained in the course of secondary sources that are readily available and collected for other purposes (Saunders et al, 2003). Examining available secondary data is prerequisite to collecting primary data. Secondary data in this research is in the form of literature review. A choice of sources of secondary data in this research is books, journals, newspapers, magazines and online sources.
Primary data is collected for the apparent point of the research currently in process. Collecting primary data is expensive and time consuming, but such data is tremendously constructive and reliable. The researcher decides in advance what data to collect and what analysis techniques to use with the data to reply the research questions or achieve the research objectives. Tools to collect data primary data can include surveys, interviews, documentation review, observation, and even the collection of physical artifacts (Saunders et al, 2003).
The primary data in this research is to be collected through questionnaire survey, which will be time saving and less expensive data collection method. For conducting questionnaire survey in this research a suitable questionnaire will be designed considering the objectives of the research and developed research questions.
In this research, non-probability sampling technique will be applied to select the sample. The respondents will be Supply Chain Managers working in different companies of UK retail sector (including Marks & Spencer). The total sample size is decided 30.
Furthermore, an interview will also be conducted at Marks & Spencer, where the interviewee will be Senior Level Supply Chain Manager in the company.
Survey data will explore the need and effectiveness of RFID technology in the supply chain of UK retail sector; whereas interview data will explore the current practice of Marks & Spencer.
The data analysis is to be conducted in this research through triangulation method. Triangulation is accomplished chiefly in the course of following two processes (Saunders et al, 2003): firstly, purported data triangulation is achieved through multiple data collecting, sources, procedures and strategies; and then these various sources and procedures are explained in regard of research issues.
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