To Tag or Not to Tag? That is the Question.

Posted by Ken Lynch on Mon, Mar 07, 2011 @ 11:20 AM

Tags: RFID, Retail, Item Level RFID, Smart Shelves, Consumer Goods

Can RFID end the ongoing debate?   

grocery store stickerWe’re all pretty much accustomed to look at the price on the shelf when we want to know how much an item costs. The tags on the shelf even let us know if a certain item is on sale that week. It seems that only the smaller stores like 7-Eleven still use the orange price tag stickers on the individual items. Or maybe I see those orange stickers because I live in Massachusetts where we have an item-pricing law.

That law was news to me when I read a story in the Wall Street Journal, “In a State of Sticker Shock, Stores Try to Sell Public on a Radical Idea.” The impetus for the article is that retailers in Michigan may be close to forcing a repeal of the state’s Item Pricing Law. It’s similar to the Massachusetts law, except Michigan’s law is the broadest such law in the nation.  Retailers say that the repeal of the law could save them many valuable man hours and costs. But the labor unions and people who hold pricing jobs, say the law protects them and their livelihood.

The alternative is barcode scanning. However there is debate about whether any inaccuracies with bar code scanning could be considered unfair to the consumer.

Could RFID solve the problem and end this ongoing debate? We’ve seen how RFID can streamline operations in many industries, including retail. We’ve also seen examples of how the technology can reduce errors that typically occur in manual processes. It seems only logical that RFID could solve the price sticker dilemma.

As for the employment issue, we’ve seen how RFID will most likely not replace sales clerks, but merely shifted their responsibilities. Rather than spending time doing manual inventory in a back room, the sales clerks are out on the floor interacting with customers, encouraging more sales.

Based on the uses of RFID that we’ve seen and written about, the investment in the technology tends to help businesses grow with more efficient operations, or attract more users because of more personalized and convenient service, whatever the case may be. 

What do you think? Price tag or RFID tag?

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