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How RFID is Changing Retail

Posted by Chad Oliver on Apr 7, 2016 8:00:00 AM

In the recent years, the way we shop isn't only changing, it is revolutionizing. The internet has changed and is continuing to change everything we know about shopping. We can now do with one click what used to take hours. During the holidays, we can check someone’s “wish list” online and click a button and go on with our day, confident in our purchase without having to wander the aisles of a store, wondering if they’ll like this item or that. People living in larger cities can order their groceries online and have them delivered to their front door. With all these things and drones flying packages around to your door step, one big question is: “How are retail stores going to keep up and adapt to the digital world?” The answer is through RFID Technology. RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. RFID is basically a quicker way to count and keep track of inventory items using RFID tags and scanners. But there are so many more exciting applications to this technology. Retail stores are starting to use RFID technology in many different ways, mostly in areas of inventory, customer interaction, and security.



The first major function of RFID in retail is in taking inventory. You might be thinking, “Inventory? How is that going to help bring people back into the stores?” Well let’s start by looking at how inventory is being done now. Today, in retail stores, employees will go around the store with a barcode scanner and a clip board to take inventory. It’s a boring task, it takes forever, and it’s usually inaccurate because people are imperfect and their minds tend to wander when doing something as tedious as counting things. With RFID technology inventory can be done 18,000x faster (I’m not being hyperbolic, literally 18,000x faster). That’s a lot of time stores are saving. 

At this point you may be impressed but you still might be wondering why this matters for the customers. With all the time the employees are saving, they can spend it on helping the customers. So often when we are shopping, we are afraid to approach the employees taking inventory because it looks like they’re too busy to talk to you. Well now that will never be the case. Employees will be optimizing sales floors, helping you find things, and answering your questions. Something that can’t be done in an online store.

Customer Interaction

The second major function of RFID technology is customer interaction. This category is probably the coolest of the three and refers to things like RFID Fitting rooms and Apple Pay. These RFID fitting rooms read what items you bring into the fitting room and how many items you bring into the fitting room. Then your mirror will light up as a touch screen. The customer can then access this touch screen to find out more information about the product and look at pictures of it on different body types.


The third way RFID is being used in retail stores is through theft security. For example, think about the RFID fitting rooms. The room can read exactly what items are being brought in. That means that when someone brings in items to the dressing room to tear off the security tags so they can steal them, employees will know exactly what goes in and when they leave the dressing room can politely ask them to put it back. And if something does leave the store, under an RFID system, managers will know exactly what items went missing so inventory accuracy won’t go down. With less theft and more accuracy, these retail stores can continue to offer low prices.


The online shopping age is here to stay but it won’t ever replace the brick and mortar stores if they can continue to advance in their customer experience through RFID technology. The Auburn University RFID Lab is a client of ours and similar to the way they've helped bring retail to the next level, we've helped bring their marketing to the next level. If you want to learn more about our inbound approach, click the link to find out the five core services of Inbound Marketing.


5 Core Services of Inbound (updated)

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