Out of stocks and inventory inefficiency still plague the retail industry. Some of the RFID solutions presented at NRF’s Big Show in New York, however, make it possible to envision a day when products are rarely out of stock.
Be it new and smaller tags, advancements in handheld and overhead “always-on” readers, or new solutions to capture and manage data generated from RFID tags, there was a strong focus on RFID innovation at this week’s NRF event.
Tech giants like Intel, Microsoft and SAP all had RFID prominently displayed in their booths, something reserved only for RFID-centric vendors at previous shows. Impinj, Tyco Retail Solutions, Mojix and Smartrac all displayed RFID innovation during the show.
RFID is clearly making new inroads into retail. Although apparel still rules retail, new tags from Smartrac and Checkpoint promise to accelerate tagging categories like cosmetics and jewelry. And new sewn-in tags promise to further accelerate source tagging in apparel.
Even grocery stores are getting in the game. Originally considered an unlikely match for RFID because of slim store margins, Checkpoint has introduced an RFID-based solution for fresh meat that is being piloted by food retailers in North America and Europe. RFID could eliminate billions worth of losses globally. U.S. retailers alone lose $8.8 billion each year due to meat spoilage.
During a recent pilot, a national retailer reduced fresh meat replenishment time, as well as the time staff spent replenishing expired meat. The retailer also reduced meat waste and increased sales. Tagging fresh meat is expected to increase markdown compliance and improve the customer experience by enhancing food freshness and on-shelf availability.
Checkpoint also unveiled its Micro RFID label for health/beauty/cosmetics categories such as hair care, over-the-counter medication and mid-size cosmetics. Because of small sizes, SKU complexity and densely packed merchandising displays, these categories have specific inventory management challenges. The Micro and its previously released companion labels – the Whisper and Slim – cover the full gamut of products that fall within this merchandise category, allowing retailers to tag more merchandise than ever before to maximize their inventory visibility.
The Micro features an inlay size of 25mm x 10mm and is integrated with the Impinj® Monza® RAIN RFID R6 chip for optimal performance with Checkpoint’s RAIN RFID solutions. Micro tags can be applied over the packaging of numerous products or directly on the products themselves.
“Our ongoing partnership is exciting as Checkpoint continues to launch new solutions, including the Micro,” said Craig Cotton, vice president of marketing and product management at Impinj.
Part two of this blog will look at more of the innovation on display at NRF.