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Suppliers Resist RFID Push

Wal-Mart wants them to take shipments with radio tags, but few are willing to pay

4 min read

28 April 2005—Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, sells everything from diapers to tires at prices that draw in customers and run off rivals. It has been able to wring out healthy profits by economizing on labor and inventory—which is somewhat contradictory because it takes a lot of manpower to track thousands of goods from suppliers to customers.

To further reduce those costs, the company last year set a January 2005 deadline for its 100 largest suppliers to begin phasing in an inventory-management system based on radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags [see box, " "]. The tags were to be placed on the pallets and cases shipped to three of the discount chain's distribution centers in Texas. Yet although Wal-Mart is the 800-pound gorilla of retailing, with 3500 stores, 1.2 million employees, and sales making up about 2.5 percent of the United States' gross national product, it has had difficulty getting most of its suppliers to adequately fund the transformation.

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Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar

You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

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