Should retailers add RFID to their marketing toolbox? – RetailWire

Jan 28, 2022

Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology is once again being viewed as a solution for item-level inventory tracking, but its side benefits in marketing, analytics and research are also gaining attention.

Potential applications in the past included automatic reordering of basics such as orange juice or razor blades as RFID chips inside products indicate when quantities are running low.

Brendan Witcher, vice president, principal analyst at Forrester Research, however, recently told Advertising Age that RFID would more likely be used for marketing in stores since they’re already outfitted with readers.

Stores could use RFID to see what items are being loaded in shopping carts together and send promotional offers for related items. Retailers could track a shopper’s path and gain insights on how picking up one item or being exposed to an offer influences the rest of their shopping journey. The tech could also help accelerate the implementation of automated, touchless checkout.

A McKinsey study last year likewise noted several “last mile” advances involving RFID that “can attract customers looking for dynamic new experiences, drive revenue and yield valuable behavioral insights.”

RFID, for example, could support “smart” fitting rooms, where shoppers get customized information about other sizes and colors in stock, learn how to style a garment and receive recommendations to complete their look, according to McKinsey.

Reports arrived last year revealing that RFID use in North American retail had significantly gained adoption as stores implemented their use to improve in-store inventory accuracy when fulfilling online orders for pickup or delivery. Retailers employing RFID tend to have in-store inventory accuracy of approximately 95 percent or higher compared to about 65 percent for those without, according to RFID Lab, Auburn University.

Increased adoption has also led to significant reduction in the price of RFID chips over the last decade as well as improved read accuracy and range.

Johan Stenstrom, supply chain developer at Stadium AB, the Swedish sports chain, told WWD last year, “Trying to keep a customer happy with 70 percent accuracy is just not possible.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What’s your view on RFID’s potential benefit to marketing, analytics and customer research? Has it changed since the initial RFID hypo arrived? Do you see a bigger at-home or in-store benefit for marketers?


“What’s your view on RFID’s potential benefit to marketing, analytics and customer research?”


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