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When do you think RFID will become standard, and what are you doing to prepare for it? By what percentage do you think it will erode your profit margin?

Tom Barringer, executive vice president, sales and marketing, Barth & Dreyfuss of California, Burbank, Calif.

A: "We're looking at it closely, but we're still some months away. The cost is unknown yet."

Peter McCabe, executive vice president, Biederlack of America, Cumberland, Md.

A: "Our MIS department is looking at it now, and we're waiting for further information. Basically, we're waiting to see which way it goes. It'll come, but in exactly what form? And as a seasonal vendor, we're pretty far down on the list The core vendors will get hit with it first. But the reality is that if Wal-Mart wants it, it's going to get done. We're just waiting to see how it all works out."

John McLeod, executive vice president, Burlington Rug Corp., Monticello, Ark.

A: "We are researching and attending conferences to learn more about it. But so far we've been given no deadline (from retail customers) to implement it yet."

Jennifer Winter, creative director, Dakotah-Creative Home Furnishings, Webster, S.D.

A: "If Wal-Mart is saying 2005, then I would believe that it becomes standard by 2006. Wal-Mart is always at least a year or so ahead of the curve on technology and new innovations."

Shay Zamir, vice president of merchandising, Divatex, New York

A: "The world will be much better when RFID kicks in. As of now, it is very expensive and only being used on high-ticket items. I think it will be three to five years before this becomes standard. In order for this to happen, they really have to cheapen it out. The minute that it becomes cheap enough, we will see it everywhere. It will give people a better grasp on their inventory at all times."

Barry Leonard, president and CEO, Ex-Cell Home Fashions, New York

A: "I think it will be standard maybe sometime in 2006. We've budgeted money for this year. I have some of my people attending conferences for it, we're doing research and running pilot projects to determine the costs."

Salo Grosfeld, president,J.R. United, Miami

A: "I don't know about the timing. We're just starting to look into it and trying to learn whatever we can. We have no idea what the costs will be for us."

Bob Gehm, president, Sheridan USA, New York

A: "I think that within 12 to 18 months all the core big-volume items will have RFIDs, while more fashion-related products will not have it for two to four years. Core products are mostly imported. For the people who have these core programs where Wal-Mart dictates this new procedure, you just have to get ready to do this, because it's coming. This will really take place between retailers and their director vendors. Soft home will be a part of it, but apparel and consumer electronics will be a bigger part."

Ted Matthews vice president, communications, Springs Industries, Fort Mill, S.C.

A: "We've been working on it and running some tests for quite some time. But it's still in the early stages. We're learning the costs and determining how to integrate it into our current business systems and some models we're working towards."

Shay Auerbach, chairman, The Northwest Company, New York

A: "We are going to implement it. We have people working on it now. It looks like you have to go that route if you're doing business with Wal-Mart. What choice do you have? It's out of our hands. If this is the route that Wal-Mart wants to take, they're going to take everyone along with them. I remember 20 years ago when this was a mill-driven industry. Well, now it's entirely retail-driven."

Bob Dale, president, bed and bath division, WestPoint Stevens, New York

A: "We have a team working on the issue, studying all aspects of it now. Our intention is to get there at the appropriate time. We have people studying what it's going to cost and how we make it work. You have to be careful, because this is state of the art technology, and like anything that's brand new and sophisticated, you don't want to let the cost get out of hand. But anyone who's doing business with Wal-Mart and Target is going to have to figure it out."

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