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Helping End Users Find RFID Solutions

New tools will guide companies to the products and services they need, to help them deploy the technology successfully and achieve the most benefits.
By Mark Roberti
Oct 08, 2012Radio frequency identification technology has not yet crossed the chasm to mass adoption. While I think it is getting close to doing so in apparel retail, we are still in the early market phase. As such, the RFID market is currently defined by two central facts:

1. There are yet not hundreds of thousands of companies actively seeking to deploy RFID systems.

2. The relatively small percentage of companies that are seeking to deploy RFID systems do not know which vendors sell which products or solutions.

We've been working hard to solve the first issue, by educating end users about the benefits of RFID technology. While the recession has deeply impacted RFID Journal, we have not reduced our editorial budget because we believe it is critical to highlight successful RFID deployments.

We are addressing the second issue in two ways. I will discuss one today and the other next week.

The problem that end users don't know which vendors to turn to emerged when the RFID market changed after 2008. From 2004 to 2008, the RFID market was dominated by mandates. Most companies offered tags, readers or software for associating Electronic Product Code (EPC) numbers with pallets and cases. The only real differentiation involved pricing.

But after 2008, Walmart stopped requiring companies to tag pallets and cases, and end users were no longer simply looking for the cheapest tags to become compliant. Instead, those attending RFID events or reading RFID Web sites had heard about the technology's capabilities and thought it might solve a specific business problem for their company. Some wanted to reduce their annual spending on replacement tools or returnable transport items. Others wanted to decrease production delays by improving the flow of work-in-process, or increase their on-shelf availability within stores. The variety of applications expanded as the technology became better known.

RFID vendors were quick to adapt their products to different applications, but slow to adapt to the changing marketing environment (many still haven't done so). Some would exhibit at RFID Journal LIVE! and expect end users to flow into their booth, even though they did not promote or advertise their products. As a result, many end users didn't know what solutions they offered, and walked right by exhibitors that had the exact solutions they sought.

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