Radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags are small chips that use electromagnetic fields for tracking when embedded in various objects. This technology has now filtered into the retail sector, where business owners are using remote scanners that are designed to read RFID tags instantaneously. These tags can be embedded in a variety of products and can hold all kinds of information, such as cost, location information and even for self-checkout. The most common use, however, is as an anti-theft device. When leaving a store, the customer passes through an RFID detector that sounds an alarm if the RFID tag has not been removed or deactivated.
As each RFID tag is unique, it carries unique product numbers. This enables retailers to link the purchases to the recorded RFID data to map out a shopper’s buying pattern to help make improvements to the customer’s shopping experience and match customer behavior. When looking at the often faster self-checkout counters in stores, all customers have to do is collect the items they want to buy and then scan the items with the RFID scanner. The total cost is then either paid by the customer on-site or deducted from the customer’s bank account.
RFID tags also help retailers track inventory of goods. The standard that is manual barcode scanning is often a very labor intensive process and a waste of time. RFID scanners, however, can detect tags from 20 feet away and record information from 100s of tags every second, so retailers can scan shelves to get accurate numbers of inventory in real time, increasing efficiency and always ensuring that there is sufficient supply to meet customer demands.