What is RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) at Walmart?

5 min read

Learn About: 

  • What is RFID?¬†

  • Helpful Terms From Walmart¬†

  • RFID Requirement Updates¬†

  • How to Implement RFID¬†

Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) is a tool used to track and identify shipments in the supplier world. It uses radio waves to communicate this information without requiring a clear line of sight.

This message transmits when the sticker barcode containing the component parts of the RFID is scanned with an RFID reader at a shippoint or checkpoint. The component parts of the RFID (see the image below) are the chip, which contains the UPC and the serial number for the EPC, and an antenna. These two parts comprise the RFID inlay.

RFID Tech.png

The inlay specs have to be aligned with the standards in the RFID Playbook (see below for more information).

Walmart defines products that must be shipped with RFID as "in scope," and they break this down by department. Recent changes to which departments are in scope are explained in greater detail below. 

A Few Helpful Terms from Walmart

In Walmart's RFID onboarding, there are some terms laid out and defined by Walmart to give suppliers a good foundation. We have included some of them here to paint a bigger picture.

RFID Inlay/Tag: A combination of a specific chip and antenna design.

ARC: The Auburn University standard that ensures RFID tags are able to meet or exceed the levels of performance and quality necessary to provide benefit to the end user in a consistent and cost-effective manner.

GS1: An information standards organization to help organizations of all sizes uniquely and consistently identify products, assets, shipments, and physical locations throughout the global supply chain while also enabling trading partners to exchange information critical to their businesses. 

SGTIN-96: The GS1 standard for a 96-bit RFID tag encoded with a GTIN and unique serial number (i.e., the EPC). Go to www.gs1.org/standards/tds(opens in a new tab) for more details.

Serialization: Unique serialization is required for each item with an RFID tag.

RFID Playbook: A guide that Walmart has created to help you, your technical partners, and your supply chain/manufacturing team through the RFID implementation process.

EAS Tag: Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) is a type of system used to prevent shoplifting. RFID cannot overlap with the EAS tag, but both can be used on the same item.

RFID Requirement Updates

RFID got its start in Walmart stores when it was implemented for Apparel in 2020 and has been expanding in that category since. Walmart was pleased with the results, seeing improvement in on-hand accuracy, which has, in turn, had a positive impact on forecasting and replenishment accuracy.

As of 2022, Walmart had RFID requirements in the following departments:

  • D7 Toys

  • D9 Sporting Goods

  • D10 Automotive (Batteries & Tires)

  • D14 Kitchen and Dining

  • D17 Home D√©cor

  • D20 Bath and Shower

  • D22 Bedding

  • D23-D36 Apparel

  • D71 Furniture

  • D72 Electronics

  • D74 Storage and Organization

  • D87 Wireless

2024 Update to RFID Requirements

The update made this calendar year (2024) required an expansion into the following departments:

  • D3 Stationery

  • D5 Media & Gaming

  • D6 Cameras & Supplies

  • D10 Automotive

  • D11 Hardware

  • D12 Paint

  • D16 Lawn & Garden

  • D19 Crafts (excluding Bolt Fabric)

  • D21 Books

How Do I Implement RFID? 

For suppliers selling items in the scope listed above, implementation should start with the communique received from Walmart. Walmart recommends reaching out to WalmartRFID@walmart.com if you haven't received an email.

It is important to make sure that this first email comes through because the onboarding communication will contain the date by which your RFID tagged products shipped to the store must be up to regulation.

After that, Walmart will host a kickoff meeting between the supplier and the Auburn University RFID Lab or a recording of the training will be sent. Walmart recommends that technical partners be invited as well.

After that the RFID training course in Retail Link's Supplier Academy should be completed.

Retail Link > Academy > Transportation Channels > Packaging and Labeling > Walmart RFID > RFID Onboarding Basics

Along with technical onboarding, suppliers need to submit a list of all RFID-tagged items as well as samples of the items with the "fully encoded RFID tags" to the Auburn University RFID Lab to have them checked.

Next, suppliers should use the QuickBase app to complete the "Submission Form."

Quickbase App 1.png

Quickbase App 2.png

The form's checklist will be helpful for getting the products ready to send to the lab for testing.

Once the form has been submitted, a confirmation email from QuickBase (Notify@QuickBase.com) will be sent containing the submission number, specific directions for next steps, and contact information. This email, along with the five RFID samples, will need to be sent into the lab. The lab will get back in touch within 10 business days of delivery with the validation.

After the submission is validated, the RFID team and your Walmart buyer should be informed that RFID requirements will be met by the date specified by Walmart in the onboarding email. Another email will be received after that requesting more details on when the RFID tagged items will be arriving in store. 

Further Reading and SupplyPike's Help

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Written by Peter Spaulding

About Peter Spaulding

Peter is a Content Coordinator at SupplyPike. His background in academia helps to detail his research in retail supply chains.

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Peter Spaulding



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