Retail automation: RFID rebooted?

  • Technology
  • August 12, 2019
  • Rachel Helyer Donaldson
Retail automation: RFID rebooted?

As part of our series on how retail automation will change the industry, we examine radio frequency identification (RFID) technology.

New Zealand retailers have been slow to adopt RFID (radio frequency identification) technology but that could all change with Google NZ’s plan to launch Local Inventory Ads (LIA).RFID also has the potential to offer Amazon Go-style frictionless purchasing, while RFID tags can be used by smart fridges. 

RFID tags contain small microchips and a transmitter. This means its information can be read more quickly and it can also be updated. RFID tags can also communicate with other devices. 

RFID can be used for stock and inventory management, supply chain logistics, manufacturing process optimisation, point of sale operations and merchandising or marketing.

The technology also means that retailers can count or track any item bearing an RFID chip by walking past a display or pallet with a scanner, rather than having to scan each barcode or manually count the items. 

RFID experienced some teething problems when it was first used in the early 2000s overseas. Radio frequencies don’t pass through liquids and metal well, and read rates were not always reliable. 

Since then, however, the technology has become much more effective and is also vastly cheaper, by as much as 80 to 90 per cent, says Gary Hartley, GS1 New Zealand general manager, customers and secretary of the New Zealand RFID Pathfinder Group. 

In contrast to barcodes, RFID offers the ability to identify each distinct item, not just a product, and know where it is, at any given time, in the supply chain. The technology is used extensively in the US and Europe, particularly by apparel and footwear retailers, he says. 

Locally, livestock and kiwifruit have been some of the bigger local industries to adopt RFID yet few New Zealand retailers are using it, he says. 

However in April Google NZ retail lead Celeste McCormick told delegates at the GS1 ‘eCommerce Innovation Summit’ in Auckland that its new LIA service will use RFID to provide real-time information about retailers’ inventory, also known as actionable supply chain visibility. 

When someone searches Google for a particular product, it will tell them there’s X amount of stores in their close vicinity that actually have this, and here’s how much inventory each one of those stores have, says Hartley. 

“That’s quite powerful when you think about it. The consumer is even more in control, and as long as they have enough product on their shelves, it’s gold for the retailer. Suddenly the online channel becomes a crucial part of the marketing mix.”

This story originally appeared in NZ Retail issue 762 June/July 2019.

This is a community discussion forum. Comment is free but please respect our rules:

  1. Don’t be abusive or use sweary type words
  2. Don’t break the law: libel, slander and defamatory comments are forbidden
  3. Don’t resort to name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or slagging off
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else.

If we find you doing these things, your comments will be edited without recourse and you may be asked to go away and reconsider your actions.
We respect the right to free speech and anonymous comments. Don’t abuse the privilege.

Sponsored content

Christmas music: to carol or not to carol

It’s that time of year again when retailers across the country ask themselves whether they should start playing Christmas music.


Gem Retail Hotlist: Allbirds' Tim Brown is our Retail Visionary

  • News
  • December 11, 2019
  • Catherine Murray
Gem Retail Hotlist: Allbirds' Tim Brown is our Retail Visionary

In the Gem Retail Hotlist, 'Retail Visionary' is one of our most special awards. This year we awarded it to Tim Brown of Allbirds. Here's the scoop on this innovative sneaker brand.

Read more

From concept to closet: New Zealand’s apparel industry in 2019

Held at the end of August, New Zealand Fashion Week is an annual focal point for local designers and those interested in their products. But ...


Social scoreboard

Zavy and The Register have worked together to create a scoreboard that compares how the top 25 traditional media advertising spenders in New Zealand have performed on social media over the past 30 days, updated in real time.

2020 vision
What does the next decade have in store ...
Concept to closet
Business coverage of New Zealand Fashion Week.
Regional rollercoaster
What does retail look like in 2019 for ...
Town centres
A positive retail environment over the past 12 ...
Amazon Arrival
Keeping up with all things Amazon as it ...
The Retail Yearbook 2017
As we battle our way through the busiest ...
The future is bright
We spoke with four retailers in their twenties ...
Hospitality enhancing retail
Some think food and integrated hospitality offerings will ...
Spotlight on signage
At first glance, the humble in-store sign might ...
Red Awards 2016
The Red Awards for retail interior design celebrate ...
Auckland Unitary Plan
Auckland is changing. The Unitary Plan will decide ...
All things to all people
Kiwi retailers share their omnichannel strategies.
How to open a store
Sarah Dunn considers what it would take to ...
Rising stars
Retail's top young achievers.
Delivering on your promises
The sale isn't over until your item is ...
Retail in heartland New Zealand
Retailers keep the regions pumping, but how strong ...
Women in retail help one another. We spoke ...
The changing face of retail
Shifting demographics are creating big changes in New ...
The retail yearbook
With the help of experts in the retail ...
Retail rogues
We put the spotlight on staff training. Jai ...
Here come the giants
Topshop has arrived in Auckland’s CBD, David Jones ...
From retail to e-tail
Ecommerce has become part of the way mainstream ...
Loyalty in the digital age
How are retailers maintaining loyalty? Sarah Dunn, Elly ...
Window shopping: A spotlight on social media
Sarah Dunn and Elly Strang look at how ...
The Innovators | In partnership with Spark Business
Technology is rapidly changing the retail industry as ...

Gem Retail Hotlist: Introducing Hunting Ground

  • News
  • December 10, 2019
  • Jai Breitnauer
Gem Retail Hotlist: Introducing Hunting Ground

At the Gem Retail Hotlist, Hunting Ground picked up the 'Hottest retail business under two years in operation' award. Here's how they did it.

Read more

Black Friday – The results are in

  • News
  • December 9, 2019
  • Makayla Wallace-Tidd
Black Friday – The results are in

Black Friday 2019 was predicted to be the biggest sales event of its kind since the tradition was introduced to New Zealand around 11 years ago. So how did retailers do?

Read more

Gem Retail Hotlist: Moore Wilson's shows us how it's done

  • News
  • December 9, 2019
  • Sarah Dunn
Gem Retail Hotlist: Moore Wilson's shows us how it's done

Wellington heritage grocery Moore Wilson's took out the award for 'Hottest retail business over 20 years in operation' at the Gem Retail Hotlist. Here's how they've managed to keep it fresh.

Read more
Next page
Results for
About us.

The Register provides essential industry news and intelligence, updated daily. And the digital newsletter delivers the latest news to your inbox twice a week — for free!

©2009–2015 Tangible Media. All rights reserved.
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy policy.

The Register

Content marketing/advertising? Email or call 022 639 3004

View Media Kit