Imagine going to the store on Black Friday – be it a grocery store, a computer store, or even a hardware one – and filling up your cart amid the chaos, then immediately walking out the door. Ignore the obnoxious checkout lines, scanning every single item in the cart, and cringing as you watch the cost total up and hand over the credit card. Just walk out.
That’s the future of retail. RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) technology will soon be utilized to completely eliminate the transaction between the retailer and the consumer. In fact, with the progression of the technology and the growth of its use among the consumer, the need for staff at a retailer will diminish significantly.
How is it possible to walk out of a store without paying? The answer is Automatic Identification and Data Collection (AIDC).
AIDC is one of the many benefits that come with the implementation of an RFID system. RFID, which is a budding industry being utilized more and more in the professional workplace, can achieve remarkable results when utilized correctly.
A system in which customers can automatically pay for their goods is one of the future. It would require an extremely complex RFID system, with RFID tags on every inventory item and a strong reader infrastructure throughout the store, and especially in the zones near the entrances/exits.
The RFID system, certainly integrated with a mobile software application and a PC application, will have to take in the payment information from every customer to ensure this automatic checkout. In fact, along with payment information, stores will have compiled full profiles on customers, based on purchasing history to display relevant items to the customer.
The tricky part of this endeavor is identifying the customer separately from each cart. With this problem comes the introduction of the high-tech shopping cart. As a mechanism for identifying the customer so that payment can go to the right account, the carts will be equipped with card readers and small digital screens.
The customer then scans their store membership card to use the cart. Once signed in, the cart displays the customer profile and recommends items for the customer based on past buying history. As items are added to the cart, they add up the cost in real time on the electronic display. The company can use this display to their advantage to not only advertise items that match their buying history but relevant items that they could offer the customer. Deals on relevant products can be advertised on the screen to drive sales. The high-tech shopping cart in and of itself is an innovation that will revolutionize retail. Its combination with an in-store RFID system makes for the easiest customer experience possible.
Then, when customers walk out of the store, through the RFID zone, they will automatically be charged for every item that they pass through the zone with (what’s in their cart). That means no checkout, no lines, no unloading and reloading, no bags, no plastic waste, and no need for employees to check out the customer. The automatic checkout with RFID is achieved simply by loading up a cart and walking out.
From the perspective of the company, the return on investment for this type of automation is massive. The business saves money at every corner, eliminating time spent with manual data transcription, searching for assets, checking out customers, packing bags, and more labor savings that add up to an immense amount of time and money that can be diverted to other resources.
Essentially, by automating their retail process, any company saves millions, removing the need for checkout employees altogether.
Though this concept is revolutionary for retailers everywhere, it is perhaps even more impactful for the modern consumer. Going to the store is much more appealing when the process is simplified to the level that RFID can. Rather than waiting in line, unloading the cart, re-loading it, and then finally leaving the store, the consumer can walk in, fill up the cart, and go.
The first major retailer to master this technology will provide an unmatched level of convenience to the consumer, and jump ahead as a leader in their industry. The further development of RFID technology will only foster efforts to make this vision of the future a reality. At the rate things are changing today, a few years down the line, there may no longer be a line to wait in.