Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Why can't I walk into a supermarket, fill up my shopping cart, swipe my credit card at the door and leave? And I'm not referring to smart shopping carts which cost heaps and offer little or RFID enabled mobile phones or credit cards. RFID Shopping is simple, safe, and much more fun – more like a filling up at a self-service gas station. I guess this is more of a service based on existing products than a product in itself, but here goes anyway. RFID Shopping is a system that includes RFID tags instead of barcodes on all the items in a supermarket, a fixed RFID reader located anywhere in the supermarket and connected to a user-operated pay station, and a second fixed RFID reader located near the exit and connected to an alarm.
With RFID Shopping, you would enter the supermarket, fill up your cart or shopping bags, proceed to the pay station where a list of all your items would appear onscreen, swipe your credit card, and leave. When you approach the exit, if the additional fixed RFID reader detects that the content in your shopping cart mysteriously doesn't match the content you paid for at the pay station, it would sound an alarm notifying security personnel, or not open the door for you. Such a supermarket would still employ one or two conventional check-out personnel for dealing with problems that could arise or for people who prefer to pay cash.
RFID Shopping is a relatively cheap way for supermarkets to evolve, without necessitating enormous initial costs, as do some of the other RFID related ideas out there. With RFID Shopping, most of the supermarket infrastructure remains the same as new smart shopping carts or expensive computer systems do not have to be purchased or developed. RFID Shopping has many advantages for a supermarket, including reduced supermarket personnel expenses due to the reduced amount of check-out personnel required; increased floor size obtained by reducing the amount of check-out counters and lanes, which in turn enables displaying and selling more products; a more positive and less time consuming shopping experience for customers.