A blog on the RFID 24-7 website with the hyberbolic headline, "RFID Will Alter Retail Landscape in 2014," posits that this will be the year when bold predictions made for the technology will finally come to fruition.
Inventory management remains the primary reason that merchants are using RFID, but data derived through item-level tracking is expected to open new opportunities for improving the customer experience, as well.
Increased use of RFID is also expected to have a significant effect on retailers' omni-channel initiatives. According to the piece, item-level tagging has led 98 percent or higher inventory accuracy levels. Having a much better handle on inventory will enable stores to serve as distribution hubs for brick and mortar stores.
"We've been talking about omni-channel for a while, but I think we'll see some true omni-channel deployments this year," Bill Hardgrave, dean and Wells Fargo professor, College of Business, Auburn University, told RFID 24-7. "I think we'll see a couple of retailers that will really catch everyone's imagination as far as what you can do when you really do know what products you have and where you have them. Then you are able to provide that customer with a true omni-channel experience. We'll see some examples of that this year and that will set the tone for everyone else."
At the RFID Journal LIVE! 2013 conference, Prof. Hardgrave spoke of RFID as a "disruptive technology," providing retailers with the means to improve shelf replenishment, manage price changes, reduce shrink and achieve other benefits.
How likely is it that 2014 will be a breakthrough year for RFID at retail?