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How RFID Meets the Evolving Needs of Retailers

April 2, 2021

Although it has existed since the 1940s, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) has evolved dramatically into what it is today. With enhancements and changes to technology, applications and use cases, RFID is rapidly becoming an invaluable asset for the retail industry. Small RFID tags emit unique signals that allow products to be identified/tracked via remote scanners. CONTROLTEK offers RFID solutions for any retail application. The technology, which has been used in car keys and tolling systems since the 1990s, in libraries, and in agriculture to track cattle, has evolved over time and now has much potential in meeting the evolving needs of retailers.

How Does RFID Work?

An RFID chip is a small device that emits an electromagnetic field. The radio signal generated can be tracked by specialized readers, enabling chips embedded in objects or attached to packaging or labels to be identified remotely. An RFID scanner can instantly read an RFID tag  even if it is inside a box or container and/or not directly in line with the reader.

The tag’s unique signal, as well as the location, cost, and other properties of an item, can be verified immediately and stored in a computer. The information is often organized and analyzed by software. Tag data can be converted into information that can be used for instant product identification and inventory tracking.

RFID differs from manual barcode scanning in that it requires little effort and time. It also supports the Electronic Product Code (EPC). An advanced version of the bar code, the EPC incorporates a full range of information in addition to product numbers.

Traditionally, there are two types of RFID tags that can be used:

  • Passive RFID tags: The reader itself powers the tag and activates it using an electromagnetic field.
  • Active RFID tags: An internal battery powers the tag, which includes a higher capacity memory and longer read range.

Most retailers rely on passive tags. Active tags are primarily used for high-cost items, as the RFID components are more expensive.

Happy woman customer paying with credit card in fashion showroom

How a Retailer Can Benefit from RFID

The use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)  can greatly improve efficiency. A study found that 73% of retailers were using or considering RFID in 2016. This number was double that of 2014, showing that RFID has been expanding rapidly across the retail space.1 The benefits of RFID in retail include:

  • Faster checkout: Retailers have always known long lines can cut into sales. With RFID technology, the checkout process is expedited. Store clerks can quickly scan and process items. In some cases, customers can take the item from a shelf and leave, while the radio frequency data is automatically transmitted to send them a digital receipt.
  • Security: The same technology that eases shopping makes it more difficult to shoplift. RFID solutions negate the need for staff to observe customers directly, which can make them uncomfortable, and they scan shoppers remotely as they leave. Stolen merchandise can then be immediately identified. This is rapidly becoming a cost-effective anti-theft method in retail stores.
  • Track Inventory: Manual inventory counting is time-consuming. Traditionally, workers would move from item to item, shelf to shelf, and aisle to aisle to count products or scan bar codes. RFID scanners allow many tags to be read at once, at hundreds per second from up to 30 feet or more. In some stores, employees do not even have to take inventory; RFID scanners are installed permanently to track stock in real-time and ensure consumer demand is met.
  • Analyzing customer behavior: Each product number is unique, so seeing products that are purchased enables retailers to monitor customer behavior. Not only does this allow for automatic payment via a credit card or by deducting it from a bank account, but it also provides the organization with marketing information. The data can be used to adapt the store’s layout based on how consumers shop and to advertise on an individual level by sending ads of similar products to a shopper’s email or social media account.
  • Improving the customer experience: Some stores are combining RFID and interactive technologies to enhance customers’ experience in fitting rooms as they try on merchandise. A mirror with interactive technology can recognize products by their RFID tags and, for example, alter the color or pattern of clothing the individual has on. They don’t even have to go search for accessories, as the system can sample items virtually. Similar technologies are used at beauty counters to help provide makeup advice and tutorials.

RFID has appeared in contactless credit cards and other consumer assets.

Female sales assistant in gift store serving female customer

Order RFID Solutions from CONTROLTEK

We provide a wide range of solutions, including Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) and RFID systems, specialized solutions for fitting rooms, and tags and labels to protect assets including apparel, footwear, eyewear, and sporting goods. Our tags and labels work with RFID, RF, and AM systems. Most installations are completed in a single visit, while our team can work with your IT department to quickly implement loss prevention systems.

In addition, our clients rely on us for dependable, real-time inventory management, asset tracking, and advanced reporting solutions. Our Sample Tracking System delivers full transparency. The latest, most advanced readers are available as well.

Other solutions we can implement include the CONTROLCARE™ suite of support services including preventative maintenance reviews, safety checks, performance optimization, remote diagnostics, and more. We also offer several advanced cash security solutions.

CONTROLTEK can provide everything your retail store needs to implement a fully functional RFID inventory, security, and customer shopping solution. Continue by browsing our inventory and additional informational resources. All our RFID solutions are available to purchase online. Place your order today or call us at 888-808-6970 for help from our knowledgeable team.