The retail sector is one of the world’s largest industrial sector. It employs about five million people and 12% of all jobs available are in the retail industry. The retail industry of a country contributes massively towards the GDP of that country.
But, in recent times, the retail sector has been plagued by numerous acts of shoplifting. This seemingly minuscule nuisance is the single largest source of lost goods. Going by a recent report released by Tyco Retail Solutions, the global retail industry incurred a loss of about $34 billion in sales due to shoplifting. The lost sum amounts to about two percent of the total revenue generated in the industry. Shoplifting is done not only by the customers but sometimes by the employees also.
Weeding out shoplifting manually is a herculean task, given the humongous size of the retail stores and the large customer footfall. Besides, manual preventive measures are vulnerable to corruption and do next to nothing to stop employee theft.
In this bleak scenario, RFID seems to be the glimmer of hope for the retailers. Let us take a look at what RFID is and how is it being implemented in the retail industry.
What is the RFID system?
RFID is an acronym for Radio Frequency Identification.
The RFID system has two components- the RFID reader and an RFID tag. The RFID reader sends out radio frequency signals. Whenever a relevant RFID tag is in the range of the signal, the RFID reader sets off an alarm. Moreover, whenever a tag is in the range of its signal, the RFID reader obtains a unique identification code which is stored inside a memory chip encapsulated inside the tag. This identification code helps the RFID reader to identify the item to which the tag is attached.
The frequency range of the signal varies from country to country.
How is the RFID system implemented in the retail industry?
Some of the world’s largest retail stores like Walmart, Future Retail are now using the RFID system in their stores and warehouses to prevent shoplifting and employee theft.
The retailers are attaching passive RFID tags, which are comparatively cheap, to every item within the store. These tags are very compact, almost of the size of a keychain. RFID tags in the form of labels are widely used. Whenever a customer purchases an item, the employee at the billing desk removes or deactivates the RFID tag.
RFID readers are usually installed at the exit points. In case a shoplifter tries to sneak out any commodity from the store without paying for it, the RFID reader sets off an alarm as soon as the tag comes inside the range of its signal. The security personnel employed at the exit point can then retrieve the item from the miscreant.
The RFID system is self- sufficient and does not need to be constantly monitored as in the case of CCTV surveillance. It is extremely efficient and has managed to reduce shoplifting by quite a few notches since its introduction. The system is gaining popularity by the day and has carved out a significant space for itself in the retail industry.