The Future of the Supply Chain Is (Almost) Here
Two barriers to adoption in the book trade have proven less of a problem for libraries, he says. The current cost of each individual ID chip—around 15 cents—makes more sense spread out over the life of a circulated book than for a “one-shot deal” retail transaction. In addition, library customers, who have already opted into the system by getting a card, are less likely to have privacy concerns.
The system already has been proven to work in Europe, where bookstores in Holland and Portugal post signs educating consumers about RFID. (Lichtenberg says personal privacy laws are stricter in the European Union than in the United States, so there is less of a predisposition for concern.)
Lichtenberg believes the cost of implementation needs to come down before RFID is widely adopted on the retail level, however.
“Other industries have better margins, so they have the money to fund it,” he says, “and they’re more technology-friendly. Hewlett-Packard put chips on their computers in their warehouses, so they know where everything is within their four walls.”
Lichtenberg believes the expansion of use in other industries, a continued drop in the price of tags and lessening concerns about privacy will drive widespread implementation by the book industry in the next three to five years.
“If you put those three forces together, and we have an industry that knows it’s under pressure and needs to be more efficient in its supply chain, I think those factors probably make three to five years a lot more realistic than it was three to five years ago,” he says.