Jun 12, 2022Ed. Note: A version of this article originally appeared at IoP Journal.
A lot of people have asked me what I thought of this year's face-to-face edition of RFID Journal LIVE!, based on the vision I have of the past 10 years, during which I did not miss any of the events, including virtual ones that took place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For me, LIVE! is a mandatory annual event, because it brings together the radio frequency identification (RFID) and Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystems with applications for global business. But it is also critical for understanding the pulse of the global market.
The first realization I had at this year's event was that electronic identification, smart packaging and automatic supply chains are merging—and there is no chance of going back. There is no longer any doubt about the precision of the technologies in question, as well as QR codes and digital printing, which will continue to evolve in terms of the achievements attained by companies in different fields of activity.
Walmart's Return to RFID
A striking example is Walmart, the global retail giant that pioneered the use of RFID, which had abandoned the technology after a series of commercial and business problems, but which now has announced its return with a strategy of heavy investments in the technology (see Walmart Recommits to RFID and Walmart Tries RFID Again). The retailer's decision will have a positive impact, considering the number of products delivered by suppliers the company has in its supply chain. The impact will be huge!
During an informal conversation I had with one of the executives responsible for Walmart's new RFID initiative, I realized the main challenge of the entire process lies in the education and preparation of human beings who will deal with a new work mentality, with new intelligent processes and with products that talk and act to win consumers off the shelf. Yes, the worlds of automatic identification and tracking technologies and customer experience are consolidating, but there is still a lot to discuss, learn and create.
In several successful case studies presented during LIVE!, what could be seen was the total integration of technologies, with RFID acting on the basis of data collection, and the optimization of supply chains, logistics and sustainability. QR codes now mainly act as access points for humans, via smartphones, to utilize all the information contained in a database when making purchasing decisions.
Avery Dennison's Sustainability Study
According to a study recently presented by Avery Dennison, in an article about sustainability published by IoP Journal, fewer than 20 percent of consumers made purchase decisions before the pandemic based on sustainability information from the companies and products in question. Now, following the great storm of COVID-19, more than 50 percent of buyers decide what to consume based on the sustainability of products and the companies responsible for these goods.
Avery Dennison had the most prominent booth at the event, right at the exhibition area's entrance. Other major brands, however, were absent from the conference, leaving the public in doubt about the health of those companies. After all, their absence from the biggest RFID and IoT event on the planet is not a good sign.
I went looking for information about the reason for their absences and was surprised to find that some companies simply decided to save marketing dollars. Curious... and unbelievable. Some companies seem to forget that for there to be a healthy market, the entire ecosystem needs to work. This mistaken reasoning also reverberates in Brazil.
Brazil's RFID Industry
On the Brazilian side, two brilliant cases were explored in depth at the event, both involving Avery Dennison tags. The first, from Cachaça Roma, shows the use of Near Field Communication (NFC) tags to ensure product authenticity (see Beverage Company Uses NFC to Ensure Product Authenticity). Entrepreneur Rodrigo Pedroso, the brand's owner, presented the case and raffled off three bottles of the drink to event participants.
The other case of great impact, from Lojas Renner, was detailed by company executive Alexandre Ribeiro, who showed all the nuances and decisions that made this one of the finalists for the 2022 RFID Journal Awards (see Lojas Renner Uses RFID to Enable Omnichannel Experience). Although the company did not win this year's award (the winner was fellow retailer Carter's), the case inspired several international companies that participated in the presentation.
On the event's closing day, I presented, as IoP Journal's editor, several cases involving RFID, QR codes and digital printing, all developed in Brazil, which showed how to go beyond intelligent supply chains and facilitate the communication of manufacturers with end consumers. Among the cases I presented were those of Havan (2021's RFID Journal Award winner for best retailer), Havaianas/Alpargatas, Correios, Cemil, Calesita, ZF Aftermarket, Privalia Outlet, Unipac, ID-Cotton, Lado Avesso, Anvisa and HP Brasil.
At IoP Journal, we are organizing initiatives to improve communication between companies and the market in Brazil. Look for us.