Printronix, the leading manufacturer of integrated enterprise printing solutions, today announced the results of its second comprehensive study of the adoption rate of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology in the supply chain among Europe's leading retailers. A year after its last study, Printronix again commissioned independent market research firm Vanson Bourne to investigate the use of RFID among leading retailers in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

The research revealed strong uptake of RFID technology in the past twelve months, with 35 per cent of European retailers now experimenting with RFID in their supply chain. The trend of adoption is set to continue, with nearly half of all retailers planning to conduct an RFID pilot in the next six months and 89 per cent planning to use RFID by 2006.

But barriers persist
Despite the recent RFID uptake, there remain a number of barriers to widespread adoption. The research revealed that one third of retailers have concerns about the cost of implementing RFID and 30 per cent of retailers lack good knowledge of RFID technology.

To address this issue, Printronix has formed partnerships with RFID integrators to help educate retailers and increase their understanding of the technology and how best to implement it. Printronix now has an extensive portfolio of RFID partners worldwide, joined most recently by Oracle Corporation. The research revealed that there is no dominant standard and retailers are pursuing different directions which suit their needs best. The diversity places an emphasis on partnering with integrators who understand the retailer's needs and can implement the most effective and appropriate solution.

"The research shows that European retailers are hungry for RFID and that uptake is in line with our predictions from a year ago," commented Anne Sharp, EMEA marketing communications manager at Printronix. "But there are still obstacles to overcome. The confusion over protocols and frequencies must be addressed by working closely with specialist integrators. We must continue building the overall understanding of RFID and how it can be implemented to best suit retailers' needs."

The results of the research coincide with today's launch of Printronix' SmartLine RFID product line, developed specifically for the European market. The portfolio consists of the new Printronix SL5000e MP Multiprotocol RFID smart label printer, a Smart Label Developer's Kit, a thermal T5000e SR field-upgradeable printer and an RFID upgrade kit.

The launch of the SmartLine range comes as the RFID adoption survey reveals that 21 per cent of respondents planning or already conducting pilots will be placing a RFID mandate on their suppliers to conform to EPC standards. These mandates will impact all suppliers and will take effect over the next two years, meaning that the market for RFID will grow substantially.

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