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The Future of RFID Technology

Before delving into explaining the future of RFID technology, it's important to understand what radio-frequency identification (RFID) is. Barcodes, compared to RFID, remain the most widespread technology for object identification.

RFID technology allows for storing a larger amount of information, can be reprogrammed, and transmits data without the need for physical contact, but through stimulation. When an RFID reader emits a request, the RFID tag returns the information via radio.

The Future of RFID Technology - Optima Retail
The Future of RFID Technology

As the adoption of this technology becomes more widespread, the future of RFID technology will become indispensable in e-commerce, supply chain management, and many other areas of the modern economy.

At the store level, sales associates will know which products are out of stock and where to find specific items and sizes within the store itself. If a product is returned, scanning it again in the system notifies all related departments that this has occurred, enabling faster refunds.

If business goals include implementing or improving an omnichannel approach, RFID technology should be a frontline strategy.

How RFID Technology is Driving Profitability and Improving Customer Experience

More than 90% of retailers worldwide are investing in visibility platforms leveraging RFID technology and IoT to provide vital information.

A recent study comparing metrics between barcode-scanned data and RFID-tag captured data arrived at these conclusions:

  • Retailers utilizing RFID technology for inventory, logistics, and fulfillment achieved 99.9% accuracy.

  • For inbound and outbound shipments where RFID was not implemented, nearly 70% experienced errors in picking, shipping, and receiving. These errors resulted in inventory inaccuracies and multiple chargebacks, leading to significant cost inefficiencies.

In addition to the study findings, companies attempting to deploy "alternative solutions" ended up facing additional errors.

RFID and Customer experience - Optima Retail
RFID and Customer experience

RFID enables omnichannel capabilities

In an increasingly competitive global business landscape, there is an expectation of omnichannel accuracy in all processes.

Some of the ways RFID enables omnichannel retailing include:

  • Accurate tracking capabilities throughout the supply chain

  • Reduces unnecessary inventory costs due to overstocking or stockouts

  • Improves quality control

  • Enables quality assurance

  • Decreases labor requirements

  • Enhances end-to-end security

  • Provides visibility of global inventory

  • Supports transparency on the customer-facing side

  • Reduces returns

  • Decreases the burden of customer support and service

  • Improves the customer experience

RFID Technology: What Is It?

This technology, which has revolutionized global business services, helps identify objects, obtain their data, collect, or process them on computers.

RFID uses a tag and a radiofrequency reader to work its magic. The tag consists of a chip and an antenna, typically embedded in a suitable medium. When the reader sends an RF signal, the antenna picks it up and modulates it with the data stored on the chip. The reader processes this modulated signal returned by the tag containing the data.

RDIF Technology - Optima Retail
RDIF Technology

But this is just scratching the surface of the future of RFID technology regarding the applications, uses, and functionalities that we will explore next, where RFID technology, uses, and opportunities go far beyond just 'tagging' clothes in stores.

What is the use of RFID technology?

Within the realm of RFID technology and its usage, it's currently applied across a wide range of business areas. Let's explore examples of its extensive application!

  • Transportation, logistics, and warehouse environments are primarily implementing this technology to enhance product visibility at all stages.

  • Manufacturing industries utilize it to track each stage of production.

  • Retailers primarily use it to search for and locate items and streamline the checkout process, even facilitating self-checkout procedures.

  • Security systems leverage the uniqueness of chip data to control access to restricted areas.

  • E-commerce sectors continuously capture chip data to update product status on their websites.

RDIF to smooth workflow - Optima Retail
RDIF to smooth workflow

Above all, effective time management and smooth workflow in work environments make entrepreneurs choose RFID technology without hesitation.

While flexibility and cost-effectiveness are attractive features, it also opens the door to automation and just-in-time process solutions. Looking at the current trend, we can say that the future of RFID technology is poised to emerge as an integral part of the industry.

Analysis and Predictions of RFID

Analysts predicted an explosion in RFID adoption over the last decade; however, the market has grown slowly and steadily. Nonetheless, a report by Research and Markets forecasted that the global supply of RFID tags would have a compound annual growth rate of 22.4% until 2018. Another report places the smart label market at $10 billion by 2022.

Some experts believe that the passive RFID tag market alone will grow to nearly 7 billion tags in the coming year, primarily due to retailers' adoption of UHF RFID tags for shelf stock replenishment.

It is expected that this figure will increase to 25 billion tags for retailers' apparel and footwear alone, with an even larger number of tags deployed on high-value and complex retail items. Experts also anticipate rapid growth in RFID usage in the pharmaceutical market for anti-counterfeiting applications.

Alongside increased adoption, new technologies will help make RFID more reliable and cost-effective for a greater number of applications.

Innovative manufacturing will create durable and versatile tags

Advancements in printed electronics have contributed to creating new classes of RFID tags that are extremely thin and flexible, which can now be combined with printed sensors, printed batteries, thin-film photovoltaic solar cells, and other technologies. With new electronic printing and conductive ink technologies, companies could print their own RFID tags without chips on-site.

Innovative manufacturing - Optima Retail
Innovative manufacturing

There are also companies working on 3D printing technology that would allow printing the electronic components of products directly as they are being manufactured. Although printing RFID tags directly inside products may take several years, the technology is rapidly evolving for this purpose.

New antenna designs could increase range

The key to the good performance of tags lies in the antenna design. It's the antenna that helps determine where and how a tag can be used, and its performance. In the coming years, we can expect to see new antennas and inlays emerge, as competition in RFID antenna design continues to grow.

Reflections on RFID Technology

Along with the new developments described above, advancements in materials, organic polymers, nanotechnology, and other areas will change how RFID is incorporated into products.

Instead of a tag attached to a garment, for example, an RFID transponder could be printed directly onto the fabric or packaging using biodegradable conductive inks. The future of RFID is here, so both end-users and RFID manufacturers must be prepared to leverage these new technologies and prepare for more widespread use of RFID.


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