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What Would Be the Best Method of Providing Automatic Checkout at Retail Stores Based on IoT and RFID Solutions?

Posted By RFID Journal, 10.23.2017

Also, how could payment be processed in such a deployment?




Passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID technology would be the most likely way in which a retailer would implement automated checkout. Many apparel items are being tagged at the source with passive UHF tags, and stores are using these to manage inventory. The key issue is how to link an individual passive UHF transponder on a specific item to a particular buyer. Since there are no cell phones with passive UHF RFID readers built into them at present, some other method must be utilized.

You could have customers walk to a kiosk and pay with a credit card, and then have a reader in the kiosk interrogate the card's RFID transponder and indicate in the store's database that each item was sold. That way, as shoppers walked out, the tags on their purchased items would be read via RFID readers located at the store exit, and no alarm would be sounded since the products detected would be paid for. This would not be an ideal scenario, however, since the aim would be to eliminate the checkout process.

Another way might be to encode the serial number in each tag—the Electronic Product Code (EPC)—in a QR code and have the customer read each product's QR code, pay for that item and then have his or her cell phone send payment data to the store's back-end system. The serial number in the QR code would be marked as being on a paid-for item, so no alarm would sound as that customer walked out.

Another way might be to offer a smartphone app that used Bluetooth beacons. A customer could buy an item in the store, and the type of item—a medium-sized, blue Polo shirt, for instance—would be recorded as having been purchased by that individual. His or her phone would send a signal via Bluetooth to a Bluetooth beacon near the exit that he or she was approaching with that shirt, and the shopper could thus walk out without an alarm sounding.

Eventually, passive UHF RFID readers will be built into smartphones. Once that happens, customers will be able to use them to buy and check out items automatically.

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal


Mustafa Khanwala 2017-11-30 06:25:42 AM
Couldn't agree with you more Mark, I too believe that passive UHF RFID stands a strong chance of being the de-facto method for retailers to implement mobile self-checkout. I invented MishiPay (https://www.mishipay.com) specifically to allow us to simply scan the code of an item, pay for it with our phone and just walk out of the door with the item. If the item hasn't been paid for, then as your second method suggests, we would sound the alarm instantly using our patent-pending technology. Then once it has been paid for, the product is marked as sold and the customer can simply walk out. Currently, we recommend this method as the best one to adopt our scan, pay, leave approach with retailers while still ensuring security against theft. There are still some challenges though; - Human shielding against most UHF tags - HF usually is better here - Adoption of QR, Data Matrix or other forms of visual ID that have EPC info - Accuracy of location detection (when considering beacon approach) We are currently conducting trials with some of the biggest retailers in Europe and the US and would love to talk more about the results of those trials and impact on these areas.

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