Here’s How You Can Meet Walmart’s Expanded RFID Mandate

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Early in 2022, Walmart announced a major expansion of its RFID program that will affect thousands of suppliers.

Under the new Walmart RFID mandate, all suppliers of home products, electronics, sporting goods, toys, and automotive batteries will need to add RFID tags to their products by September 2.

But the impact on affected suppliers is even more urgent because there’s an initial deadline of June 3 to submit sample RFID tags for approval. And the must-arrive-by-date (MABD) for products shipped into Walmart distribution centers is August 17. Miss any of those dates and you’ll be out of compliance, which is never good when you’re dealing with the world’s largest retailer.

The new RFID mandate impacts all Walmart USA Stores, including Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico, and .Com Merchandise and applies to all national, proprietary, supplier, and private brands. If that’s you, depending on when you’re reading this, you may have some quick work to do.

Even if this extension of Walmart’s RFID mandate doesn’t impact your business yet, it pays to give some attention to RFID applications because other products will likely be added to the mandate before long. In fact, RFID Journal reports that Shelly McDougal, Walmart’s senior director of merchandising said, “We look forward to expanding the technology into more categories to further improve inventory accuracy across the business, provide a better in-store shopping experience for customers and drive more online and pick-up-in-store capabilities.”

There’s also a distinct possibility that Walmart’s expanded RFID mandate could be a catalyst for other retailers to follow suit with their own RFID requirements. Sandeep Unni, a senior director analyst in Gartner’s retail industry research practice, told RFID Journal that “A mandate coming from [Walmart] could just be the tipping point for other retailers to further adoption.”

Contact SK&T about implementing RFID labels.

What’s Required and How to Get There

Under Walmart’s expanded RFID mandate, if you’re supplying home products, electronics, sporting goods, toys, and automotive batteries, you’ll need to add RFID tags to your products.


Ultimately, you’ll want to incorporate RFID tags into your manufacturing supply chain and tag products at the source.

In the meantime, however, you’ll need a plan for tagging products that are in transit or sitting on the shelf in distribution. The good news is that Walmart is allowing suppliers to add a secondary RFID-enabled label to their products.

There are two basic ways to approach this.

First, you can buy labels that incorporate RFID inlays and print them yourself. To do this, you’ll need RFID labels and RFID-capable printers. It will also be a good idea to have some RFID readers so, at a minimum, you can check the accuracy of the tags/labels. The good news is that Walmart-approved RFID labels and all the hardware are available from Zebra Technologies, and SK&T has all the expertise needed to get you up to speed quickly.

Your second option is to use pre-printed/encoded labels. The easiest way to accomplish this is to use Zebra’s RFID Printing and Encoding Service, which provides serialized pre-printed and encoded RFID supplies specifically to support programs like Walmart’s RFID mandate. Zebra offers a range of Walmart-approved RFID labels with the sizes and inlays required for all the product categories covered by the Walmart RFID mandate.

Exactly how you choose to proceed in the short term will be determined by the scale of your RFID requirements and the amount of time left to reach compliance. Remember, the short deadlines don’t allow much time to ramp up in-house RFID capabilities, so you’ll need to carefully consider all options.

Regardless of how you choose to proceed, there are enough complexities to RFID that just about everyone is well-advised to seek out a technology partner who can guide you through the entire process. SK&T has a quarter-century of experience helping organizations navigate operational challenges like Walmart’s RFID mandate. Working together with Zebra, we can help you implement short- and long-term plans that comply with Walmart’s requirements and help you leverage RFID technology to improve visibility and tracking throughout your own operation.

Contact SK&T about implementing RFID labels.