RFID is much-discussed tool in retail industry. It is unbeatable for inventory management and might, for example, provide more efficient solutions for self-checkout in today’s retail environment and in the future. There are a few special features in RFID that must be taken into account when evaluating its suitability for each individual purpose.
RFID is mostly used in logistics and manufacturing, for it is very effective in producing an inventory. Because of the ID numbers, it is possible to not only determine how much products there are but also which individual products are in question and their rough, non-accurate whereabouts. This way, it is possible to optimize logistics operations and the value of the warehouse and always have products in the right place at the right time. In addition to this, if products go missing it is rather easy to find out at what part of the logistics chain this happened.
Opposite to what people may have misleadingly understood, RFID tag is many things, but not an anti-theft device. Despite this, the technology is often advertised as a solution to stop shoplifting. For a shoplifter, RFID technology is easy to bypass. A reader or a gate can be tricked by hiding a tagged product into a foil-lined bag. If a tag is attached to a price tag as it often is, a shoplifter could just cut a price tag off without sounding an alarm. RFID solution is only developed for so called ‘friendly users’ who do not intend to fool the signal. This is yet another reason why RFID should not be used in theft prevention. However, on rare occasions where RFID-gate is able to notice a theft, it provides valuable data of which product was stolen – If a reader was able to identify the product.
RFID technology alone is not a satisfactory tool for theft prevention nor retail management in spite of being superior tool for inventory management. A retailer should consider other options for those operations to be able to utilize RFID to its full extent. Using RFID technology for operations the technology was not invented for, may cause serious damage, for example shrinkage. Nowadays, one of the most innovative and efficient solution combining the best features of theft prevention and upsell systems is Noccela. It works well alongside RFID, offering real-time information of all notable events in a retail store. It is able to notice real-time theft attempts and customers’ needs for service. This way RFID technology can do what is does best and the rest can be left for Noccela to handle.
Riku Miettinen, CEO, Noccela Ltd, [email protected], tel. +358 41 540 6666