Australian Retailers Resisting EPC

Written by Evan Schuman
December 28th, 2008

Tracking global retail from the United States, it’s clear that Canada is the country most similar to the United States when it comes to retail procedures. Surprisingly, the next closest region is not the United Kingdom but Australia, and then arguably South Africa. So it’s always interesting to see the few technology areas where American and Australian retailers diverge, and EPC is shaping up to be one of them.

Consider this wonderful piece from an Australian technology publication called Transport & Logistics News that details the resistance Australian retailers have shown to EPC.

“To date, no major Australian retailer has committed to EPC technology, despite the fact that Wal-Mart is currently adopting the new platform,” the story quoted Scott Needham, managing director of retail technology company Leadtec, as saying. Needham argued that the culprit is the apparent success of many scan-packing/EANway rollouts. “Therefore, most Australian companies can’t see the point in making further investment in a system that, for the most part, does the job.”

This sounds eerily similar to how much of Asia surpassed the United States in mobile deployments many years ago, despite the fact that the underlying telco infrastructure in Asia was considered weaker. It’s always difficult to move to the next level simply to upgrade when current systems seem to be doing fine. And a global recession doesn’t help, either.

This decision is potentially the retail CIO’s most difficult, to determine whether the company’s future is best served by upgrades when current operations seem functional vs. when—as is so often the case—the only need to upgrade sits within the CFO’s office of the vendor trying to sell new technology to the retailer. For the record, it’s certainly possible that Leadtec may be pushing new approaches on companies that don’t truly need them.

To quote the Star Wars movie character Yoda, a Jedi master who would have made a wonderful IT director: “Difficult to see, the future is.”


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