RFID Technology in Retail: RFID Tags and Benefits

By: Michael Chalberg of Combase USA

There are three main types of RFID tags: active RFID, passive RFID, and semi-passive RFID.

Active RFID Tags
Active RFID tags have been around the longest. They use an inbuilt power source to continuously send out signals, making them best suited for applications that need to cover a large area or transmit over a long distance.

Passive RFID Tags
Unlike active tags, passive RFID tags don’t have an inbuilt power source. Instead, it’s powered by electromagnetic energy when coming into contact with the reader. Because of this, they’re much smaller and cheaper than active tags but have a shorter range and lower data transfer rate.

Semi-Passive RFID Tags
Semi-passive (aka semi-active) tags strike a good balance between active and passive tags—they require less power than active but have a longer range than passive. The primary benefit is that they don’t need to be read by the readers one-by-one, making them more efficient in large areas with many items such as warehouses or retail stores.

Now that you know about the different types of RFID tags, let’s look at their counterpart—RFID readers. Generally speaking, there are two main types: fixed readers & handheld readers. Fixed readers are installed within specific areas, while handheld can be used anywhere to identify items with their unique barcodes or numbers.

Benefits of RFID Technology for Retailers
RFID technology is revolutionizing the way retailers do business. Here are some of the key benefits they can reap by implementing this cutting-edge technology:

Inventory Management
RFID tags and readers offer real-time data that gives retailers an accurate view of their current inventory levels, so they know exactly what’s in-stock and available for purchase. This also allows them to see where items are located at any given point, so they can be easily found if a customer is searching for a particular item.

Loss Prevention
By using RFID tags, retailers can track which items have been sold and which are still in stock, making it easier to identify missing items and minimize shrinkage caused by theft or misplacement. Plus, RFID readers can help automate store processes to improve accuracy when checking out customers. This provides more efficiency and accuracy during the checkout process to prevent any unnecessary losses in sales.

Shorter Labor Time & Lower Costs
RFID tags are more efficient than traditional barcodes because they don’t require line-of-sight scanning like barcodes. This means that retailers can stock shelves faster and more accurately, reducing labor time and costs associated with traditional checkout processes.

Improve Buy Online, Pickup In-Store (BOPIS)
Another benefit of RFID is its ability to speed up the buy online pick-up in-store (BOPIS) process. By utilizing RFID tag readers at both locations — store shelves and checkout counters — customers can easily locate an item in store and then quickly check out without having to wait in long lines or wait for an associate to locate an item for them.