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For all of the issues and challenges it brought, we may most will remember- 2020 as the year of the rapid adoption of new technologies under some of the most trying conditions. Businesses around the world who were slow-walking their digital transformation initiatives had to adapt quickly and implement a variety of new solutions to maintain their operations. 

One way companies can build enterprise-wide intelligence is using the latest radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. With the market expected to grow at a 9% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) and almost every industry benefiting from the technology, RFID is the ideal solution for any organization that needs greater visibility  their supply chain. 

RFID also found many new applications, helped speed up retail processes, and allowed healthcare workers to track or trace individuals during the pandemic. 

Quick Takeaways:

  • Already popular in retail supply chains, RFID continues to improve store and product efficiencies by providing greater visibility into all operations
  • Companies can use RFID to record the movement of people inside stores or businesses, aiding with the tracking and tracing programs implemented during the pandemic 
  • With global supply chains receiving greater scrutiny, RFID enables you to investigate your products and verify that they originated from where your suppliers claimed

With this in mind, let’s look at the 2021 RFID trends we can expect to see going forward.

Top 7 RFID Trends to Look For in 2021 

By providing a completely new way to track people, products, or any other commodity, RFID is no longer an emerging technology. RFID is suitable for use cases in almost any industry, including the healthcare, automotive, aerospace, and retail sectors. 

Accurately keeping track of inventory, inbound logistics, order fulfillment processes, or your entire supply chain provides clarity and insight into your organization’s efficiency. 

Here are seven areas where RFID is helping improve business processes around the world. 

1. Improving Retail Efficiencies

In retail environments, RFID can help improve stock and inventory accuracy while automating many of your company’s manual processing tasks. From the receiving dock, shipping and distribution processes, to quickly locating an item in the stores, RFID helps speed up every element in the retail industry. You can even ensure automatic replenishment of inventory with the right solution. 

RFID implementation is changing the way organizations operate every element of their supply chains for greater visibility and accurate accounting of revenues. In 2021, this trend will continue and may even disrupt regular order fulfillment processes, including final delivery to the end user. 

2. Tracing Traffic Inside the Store or Location

Keeping track of everyone who enters your facility is no longer optional. The COVID-19 pandemic requires businesses around the world to keep track of all the people who enter a location for safety reasons. Implementing a RFID system with accurate tracking for everyone who enters your store or building will ensure you can alert any individuals who encountered an infected person at that location.

RFID also allows you to track equipment and products. You can plot the movement of items throughout your store to help you optimize processes based on historical data.

The retail use cases for RFID include:

  • Generating customer and product flows throughout the facility
  • Ensuring you can see employee movements throughout the building
  • Tracking equipment and the users who accessed them during the workday

3. Streamlining Checkout Procedures

Traditional checkout and payment processes are time-consuming and labor-intensive. Automating the procedures can help create a frictionless checkout and payment system. Another application is automating your customer loyalty program by recording all the items in a basket once the customer leaves the store. 

RFID systems don’t depend on scanning every item like with barcode solutions. As the reader can tally the products automatically, you can charge customers and accept payment without any human resources involved in the process. 

4. Reducing Theft and Improving Security

Theft remains a major concern for retailers, cutting into their bottom-line and leaching their profits. To secure every product, you can compare the flow against payment and sales data. Using RFID to track products throughout the facility will provide you with details about when a product left the store, who carried out the theft, and help police identify the perpetrator. 

You can also set up an exit tracking system that will alert you if someone tries to skip the checkout process, automatically triggering alarms. With an integrated RFID solution that keeps track of every product through your entire process, you can limit losses and prevent theft.

5. Investigate and Verify Your Supply Chain

More customers now care about the safe, responsible, and sustainable sourcing of raw materials and products. New applications for RFID technology continue to disrupt traditional business processes and provide new insights into the entire supply chain. 

A survey found that 52% of respondents were using active RFID technologies in some capacity.

Monitoring your supply chains from inception to completion will also ensure you identify any issues early and can respond effectively against exploitative practices.

6. Automatic Vehicle Identification 

RFID applications are particularly popular in situations where you need to identify items that move through a specific point automatically. Gathering traffic data for automobiles or keeping track of border entries and exits are easier with an RFID system. 

Electronic toll collections, tracking volumes of cars using a particular road, and monitoring the service history of cars are all new use cases where RFID proved to be invaluable. Creating an electronic record of an automobile’s history and traveling patterns can help city planners, federal agencies, and retailers equally well. 

7. Event Management and Safety

Although many in-person events will no longer go ahead during the pandemic, organizers can use RFID to improve conference safety and comply with all applicable regulations. Keeping track of attendees, their movements, and amount of people inside the facility at any time ensures organizers can manage how many people enter a venue, oversee their movements during the conference, and grant access to specific areas or sessions easily. 

Combining RFID with intelligent Internet of Things (IoT) sensors provides a safer, controlled event that reduces risk and ensures you can contact-trace attendees. 

Discover the Latest 2021 RFID Trends at RFID Journal Live

At RFID Journal LIVE!, we help organizations create unique experiences bringing together innovators who are at the edge of identification, tracking, and monitoring technologies. With 2021 looming, the main trends will be solutions that let you know who visited your locations, what they interacted with, and who else was there to keep your staff and consumers safe. 

To see where we can meet up at the next event, check out this page

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