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Can RFID Conduct Inventory Counts From a Remote Location?
We sell packaged seeds that measure 3.25 inches by 4.75 inches to gardening retailers. Is there a possibility now, or in the future, that we could perform an inventory count for a store remotely? This would mean printing an RFID tag at low cost on each package.
This is more than likely doable today, from a technological standpoint, without having to print tags on bags. How best to do it would depend on how the seed is distributed throughout the store. If it is located within a particular area, then a single reader might be able to cover that area. If they are distributed throughout the store, you would likely require several readers, which could start to get expensive.
Another question is how the seeds are stacked. It might present a challenge to read a tag in the middle of a bag buried under 25 other bags. On the other hand, if you place the tag near the top of the bag and there were only a few stacked on top of one another, there would likely be little challenge reading the tags.
Another issue is the material used in the bags. Paper or plastic is not an issue. However, if you use a foil liner to keep the seeds dry and fresh, that would cause some challenges with reading the tags.
So the question becomes whether it make sense to do it today with tags that cost about 10 cents apiece, for a dry inlay that could be put inside the bag. I think that would be worth testing at two or three store locations. My recommendation would be to tag all the seed going to these stores. Work with the store owner to install an overhead unit that could interrogate the tags, or perhaps a smart shelf reader, and then determine if better replenishment leads to greater sales, and if you save money by making trips to the stores when you don't need to. Depending on the price of your seeds, 10 cents a tag might deliver a good return on investment.
If you would like to discuss this in more detail, feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com.
—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal
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