Tom Meehan and Rubin Press examining RFID technology in an innovation lab

What is RFID & How Does RFID Work?

by Rubin Press, Vice President of Global Sales at CONTROLTEK

Radio frequency identification, more commonly known as RFID, has been around since World War II and used in many settings and applications. In the last 20 years, the developments in the technology have made RFID available in the retail industry.

How RFID Works

RFID consists of an RFID reader and a tag with an RFID chip and antenna. The reader sends out a radio frequency (RF) signal and waits for any tags in range to respond. The tags used in retail are typically passive tags and require no battery, and the RF signal sent from the device powers the chip on the tag to enable it to respond. One of RFID’s greatest advantages is that it does not need to “see” a tag to detect it. This means a tag can be read through product packaging, inside a shopping cart, or even through clothing, which allows for a very quick reading process.

An RFID tag also contains information about the asset, compared to traditional EAS tags which cannot carry information at all. This means that the company will always know where an asset is, which is a great benefit in asset protection and store operations.

RFID Applications

RFID was first introduced as a way to improve inventory accuracy, not to reduce shrink. However, retailers who implement RFID in their store locations have seen shrink decreased by an as much as 55 percent. RFID tags and systems can act in the same role as traditional EAS tags and systems while also having the ability to provide much more information to the retailer. For example, if an asset with an RFID tag leaves the store without being paid for, not only will the tag trigger the alarm, but employees can see exactly which product left the store, making it easier for them to ensure all the missing items are recovered. This also provides retailers with insight into what stock may need to be replenished, in turn minimizing the loss of future sales revenue.

RFID technology is also a huge advantage for supply chain management. RFID tags can provide important data for lost items because assets can be tracked from source to sale. Considering that many assets begin their journey with overseas manufacturers, then pass through several ports, customs checks and logistical channels before actually reaching a store floor, RFID can be an invaluable technology for supply chain asset protection.

RFID Systems & Tags

RFID systems can be tricky and expensive to install. However, here at CONTROLTEK, we make the process easy. From start to finish, we focus on your business goals and budget so you can protect your profitability and enhance your customer experience. And with our First Time Right™ approach, over 97 percent of our installations are fully completed on the very first visit. Contact us today for a free quote!