In theory, the change was supposed to save money and labor, making the stores more efficient. RFID tags are useful for both theft prevention and inventory, allowing remote inventory management and other wonderfulness. It was expensive, though, and Penney dumped the project back in January, even before doomed turnaround CEO Ron Johnson was able to finish the project.
Of course, stores had already taken the older anti-theft sensors off items in preparation for the new system. Why? The Wall Street Journal speculates that the two systems interfered with each other, so the old tags had to go before the switch. The never-completed switch.
The shoplifting frenzy hurt the company’s profit margin by one whole percentage point last quarter. Well, “profit margin” is a misleading term: the company lost half a billion dollars last quarter.