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Use cases of RFID in retail

The development of the social economy has changed the way people shop. Consumers not only have high requirements for quality, but also expect a better shopping experience. Retailers need to rationally coordinate all aspects of retail, based on market conditions, in order to adapt to new consumption patterns.

The rise in labor costs and demand to reduce logistics’ operational costs have generated objective demands for the rapid use of RFID in modern retail. With the rise of smart retail and high competition among companies, RFID technology plays an increasingly important role in improving the competitiveness of modern retail enterprises.

Retailers have always been pioneers in RFID use, and many of have already benefited from RFID implementation for both internal management and shared supply chains. The entire supply chain is interlocked during the processes of procurement, storage, packaging, loading, transportation, distribution and sales to service, so retailers must grasp the entire business flow accurately, including logistics, information and capital flow in real time. RFID effectively provides the retail industry with input and output of business operational data, control and tracking of business processes, and reduction of error rates, which help retailers improve work efficiency, enhance visibility and reduce operational costs.

With the in-depth development of RFID in retail, new industrial use cases are gradually developing. Thanks to RFID, retailers can obtain more accurate user behavior information, intelligently analyze customer shopping behaviors to further optimize product allocation, improve marketing strategies and achieve precise marketing insight.

In recent years, RFID technology has brought new opportunities to footwear and apparel chains. Increasingly, well-known international and domestic apparel companies, such as Uniqlo, Zara, H&M, Prada and La Chapelle, have been using RFID in their operations.

Date collection of user behaviors

How can RFID benefits retailers? Taking the use case of footwear and clothing retailers as an example, RFID can be added to shoe cabinets, clothes panels, fitting rooms, fitting mirrors, island shelves and warehouse entrances and exits to record customer shopping behaviors. Customers’ product preferences can be analyzed based on data, including time, frequency and transaction records of customers picking up and trying on products, so that products can be optimized with the desired configuration, resulting in higher sales.

In specific use cases, short-range near-field antennas can be installed under each shoe bracket or in a concealed position of a clothes panel and a 16-port collector with wireless functionality can be placed in a hidden position. The number of collectors depends on the area of the store. Customer behaviors can be judged based on the distance between the collecting antenna and the UHF tag of the product. It is considered a “try-on” when the product is picked up or taken away for a certain period of time, often more than one minute. Thus, this behavioral customer data provides accurate and comprehensive support for business management decisions.

Quick product positioning and search

Retail shoe stores are often filled with all kinds of shoes with different specifications, models and colors. However, due to a limited display area, there is only one sample for each shoe. Staff often needs to search manually in storefront warehouses, and it is often difficult to find a specific product in a short time. As a result, many customers are unwilling to wait and leave without purchasing anything.

RFID assists in fast and accurate product searches. Using an RFID terminal, staff can detect goods quickly in the warehouse and lock targeted goods accurately, which greatly shortens search time and helps workers responds to customer requirements with high efficiency.

Jewelry management with RFID

RFID can also help monitor sales, transfer, delivery or safe replenishment processes at jewelry stores and counters. An RFID reader can read electronic tag data of every piece of jewelry on a counter via the antenna. Once an unexpected circumstance occurs, for example, if the reader cannot collect information from a certain tag within a certain period of time, the system will alert staff of a potential issue via an alarm. Jewelry is monitored by RFID in the tray, and an alarm is triggered once it leaves the specified safe range. When jewelry is presented to a customer, the related details of the jewelry can also be displayed on company’s system screen. A settlement can be completed by the RFID integrated reader. At the close of business, the RFID device can automatically confirm the specific quantity of each type of jewelry. The contactless, multi-tag reading and strong penetrating features of RFID technology will help enterprises quickly complete an inventory of goods, significantly reducing the manpower and time required while improving operational efficiency.

RFID has become increasingly popular in the retail industry. The segmentation and expansion of industrial applications will inevitably meet the needs for more efficient and comprehensive use cases in the future, a testament to the fact that the usage rates of RFID technology are still increasing.

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