Eight More Surprising Uses of RFID

Here are some exciting takes on radio frequency identification technology for 2018 and beyond.
By David Budiac
Feb 25, 2018

Radio frequency identification is pretty amazing. Although the location-tracking tags that integrate with inventory software have been around for decades, new applications continue to appear as the technology becomes more affordable and approachable.

Explosive e-commerce growth and the Internet of Things (IoT) have only intensified the demand to digitize and track real-world objects. Among the unexpected and innovative past uses of RFID have been robbery-proof casino chips, loss-resistant golf balls and smart fitting rooms—all thriving, thanks to RFID (see RFID Protects Casino Against Theft and Search RFID Journal: 'smart fitting rooms'). Those cool innovations have inspired this list of eight more exciting takes on RFID for 2018 and beyond:

1. Retail Dream Scenario: 100 Percent Inventory Coverage

Okay, so I'm cheating a bit with this first one; it's not a surprising use case, but it is remarkable. Macy's has added RFID tags to more than half of its inventory and plans to achieve 100 percent coverage by the end of 2018 (see Macy's to RFID-Tag 100 Percent of Items). While obviously not a new use case, from a retailer perspective it's exactly what RFID was meant for, so its importance can hardly be understated.

Retailers live and die by matching their inventory supply to demand, and the better data they have to stock levels, the better they can meet demand. With the cost of an RFID chip going from $1 in 2003 to about 10 cents today, it's easier than ever for retailers to take advantage of the benefits.

The results are already clear, according to Bill Connell, the company's senior VP of transportation. "With an increase in the inventory accuracy, out-of-stocks are significantly reduced," he told Forbes.com. "And by cutting the out-of-stocks, item availability is increased, which can lead to substantial and measurable sales increases." The company's "Pick to the Last Unit" program also combines inventory-management software with RFID tracking to boost sales of low-stock items.

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