Macy's heard it on the radio

Oct. 3, 2011 | by Lisa Biank Fasig

If Macy's isn't carrying enough of your size, it isn't for lack of trying.

The department store chain, which has long sought to perfect the art and science of inventory management, plans to install RFID technology at all of its U.S. stores by late 2012. This technology, more cumbersomely known as radio frequency identification technology, will enable Macy's to track and replenish all products by size, color and style.

RFID involves chips that are inserted into products so that merchants can better track when they enter the back of the store and when they go out the front. When first introduced a decade or so ago, it was designed for mass merchants like Walmart, which manages the sale of millions of consumer products daily.

Macy's will be using the technology more specifically for its own faster-moving "replenishment" products, such as shoes and sweaters, which are regularly stocked and automatically resupplied once sold. These items make up to 30 percent of Macy's sales, the Associated Press reports.

I know I am guilty of writing about Macy's a lot, but the company manages to do so many things right, even when its choices are unpopular or unexpected. Its decision to change the name of all of its regional stores to Macy's, for instance, caused a loud and sustained backlash by Chicago shoppers who pined for Marshall Field's. Yet Macy's marched on under one banner, and with a more manageable marketing budget.

Macy's was the first major chain to launch private label brands—a strategy that contributed to it acquisition by Federated Department Stores Inc. in 1996. It has made household designer names of many celebrities. And it recorded the largest department store acquisition in history with its 2005 purchase of May Co. for $11 billion—a deal, many said, would be Macy's undoing.

But it just kept doing.

So now Macy's is moving one step close to monitoring every stitch of clothing in and out its doors. I suspect the privacy advocates will protest, but if it means Macy's will have size 5.5 shoes in stock, then I'm all for it.


Topics: Retail - Apparel, RFID Technology


Lisa Biank Fasig / Lisa leads the creation of editorials and feature stories for COLLOQUY and oversees the work of contributing editors and writers. With 18 years of reporting experience, most in business and specifically consumer behavior, she is highly skilled at researching data and teasing out the trends. A background in graphic design enables her to see ideas in three dimensions and tell the story visually.
wwwView Lisa Biank Fasig's profile on LinkedIn

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