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RFID Connect Helps Companies Find Products

The growing database of RFID tags, readers, software and services is gaining traction with end users.
By Mark Roberti
Apr 11, 2016

One of RFID Journal's goals for the past few years has been to create greater visibility in the market for radio frequency identification products and services. Yes, it is ironic that products providing visibility have no visibility themselves. The vast majority of RFID companies have never advertised their products at all. That means end-user companies looking for products have no idea where to find them.

Roughly five years ago, we took our RFID Connect event-planning tool and turned it into a year-round product-search and social-media tool, while retaining all of the event-planning features. The site now has more than 17,000 users, as well as products from some 1,300 RFID technology providers. Users who are registered for our upcoming RFID Journal LIVE! conference and exhibition, being held in Orlando, Fla., on May 3-5, are now beginning to log in and search for products and exhibitors to visit.

What's encouraging to me is that end users are using the site year-round. Every day, vendors receive requests for information regarding specific products, such as on-metal tags, high-frequency (HF) readers and ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) modules. Some requests come from students working on RFID projects, but many come from large end-user companies.

Of course, end users seeking solutions to their business issues visit RFID Journal's website to learn about RFID. They often contact the vendors they read about in our news stories, case studies and feature articles.

Transparency in the market is essential if the market is to grow. Some end users cannot find the right tags, reader or software for their needs, and they e-mail me seeking help. Recently, for example, a gentleman whose company is deploying a national toll-collection system asked me to recommend passive UHF windshield tags. I pointed him to eight or so products on RFID Connect. But no industry can scale if buyers rely on a single person as a sales conduit.

Many RFID providers offer good technology but lack sufficient business to begin promoting their products. They are stuck in a Catch-22—they can't promote their products so they can't obtain sales, yet their lack of sales prevents them from promoting their wares.

We priced membership in RFID Connect extremely low to enable providers to promote their products to the site's members. A Gold listing allows an RFID company to list 10 products for just $109 a year.

Visibility has been an issue even at our events. I cannot tell you how many times attendees from large end-user companies have come up to me in the exhibit hall and asked "Who makes a tag that can go on cables?" Or, "Does anyone here sell LF tags and readers?"

To help attendees find what they are looking for, we created a mobile app that lets them search for products by category (RFID labels, passive UHF handheld readers, middleware and so forth)—or they can search for solutions by industry (health care, manufacturing, retail). And we also created a large product showcase featuring images of products and the logo and booth number of each provider that makes those products.

These efforts alone will not solve the issue, but it's my hope that as RFID providers take advantage of these tools, they will make sales and eventually be in a position to advertise and grow their business.

Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal. If you would like to comment on this article, click on the link below. To read more of Mark's opinions, visit the RFID Journal Blog, the Editor's Note archive or RFID Connect.

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