The Future of RFID Tags and Retail


Shopping has changed radically in recent years.  We shop in a very different manner than we did years ago when we had to visit a number of specialist shops in order to buy groceries and household goods.  Nowadays, with supermarkets in every town and hypermarkets or shopping malls on the outskirts of most, a one-stop shop is the norm.  Providing most of what we need under one roof is the name of the game and for those who are unable or don’t have time to visit a local supermarket, online shopping is on the increase.  A quick visit to the store’s website to choose what’s needed and then it’s just a matter of sitting back and awaiting the delivery – things really couldn’t be simpler.  We’ve become used to using the self-serve checkouts at supermarkets, scanning the barcodes on each item so that we can complete our transactions without the help of a member of staff.

RFID (radio frequency identification) technology has progressed in recent years and we’ve now reached a stage where nanotech RFID tags are able to replace barcodes to make the total shopping experience much easier and quicker.  Printable, inexpensive transmitters can be embedded in packaging which will enable a customer to walk past a scanner with a trolley full of goods and the scanner will read all the items in the trolley, total the prices to charge the customer’s account and then readjust the store’s inventory.  An even more advanced version would instantly collect data about the shop’s contents to allow the retailer to know the location of every single item at any given time.

RFID software are already widely used to identify and track farm animals, products and vehicles.  They are in passports, library books and tollbooth devices.  Recent developments in printed electronic engineering  will bring down the cost of printing these tags, ensuring that they are a cost efficient method of managing and tracking cheaper items such as food products.  While RFID tags are already in use by some major retailers selling clothing, electronics, cosmetics, etc, retailers are now focussed on maximising the in-store experience with mobile technology and smooth self checkout transactions in supermarkets.

As the costs of RFID tags decrease and the technology becomes more reliable, entrepreneurs will discover more applications for these systems.  With smart technology on the increase in our homes, the future of retail is changing.  As more and more of our gadgets “communicate” with each other, smart systems are set to make life easier for everyone.  We’re heading towards what’s been called the “Internet of Things” – a world where everyday items are tagged and begin to communicate with each other.  For instance you refrigerator will update your grocery shopping list when food is used or a tagged carpet will “inform” a tagged vacuum cleaner that it needs cleaning.  RFID technology is on its way and it’s determined to make us all more efficient!

As the Internet of Things becomes more widely adopted an increasing number of retailers will need tagging technology in order to compete on a level playing field. Regardless of whether this relates to the retail or entertainment and leisure sectors, RFID tagging really is in its infancy and is set to change the world, change the way in which we live and change the way in which we shop.  Manufacturers, freight providers and retailers will need increasingly sophisticated logistics software solutions in order to stay in the game as their clients and customers become the smart shoppers of the future.

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