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RFID and the Indian Retail Revolution

  • Abhishek Shukla
  • Aug 25, 2023
  • RFID
Indian Retail Revolution

The story of the Indian retail revolution, the untapped market opportunities, and how technologies such as RFID and IoT can play a more significant role is unfolding right in front of our eyes.”, according to Ruddersoft, a market leader in AIDC and software development technologies in India.

The Indian retail industry is coming of age and with a recent report by Accenture highlighting the e-commerce potential, with 1.4 billion digital-first consumers in 8 growing countries including India and Bangladesh, Egypt, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Philippines, Kenya, entering the market within this next decade, Indian retail faces new opportunities and challenges. New opportunities in terms of more shoppers and more demands, leading to more profits for companies and brands, and challenges in terms of e-commerce rise, market disruptions with new kinds of shoppers, Millennials, Gen Z, and Gen Alpha, and their needs and requirements changing overnight. 

The Indian retail revolution is heavily dependent on technology and technology-led business strategies. The use of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags, BLE beacons, and other IoT sensors is enabling end-to-end retail digital transformation, not only in physical retail stores but in retail warehouses and inventories as well. While the use of electronic shelf labels (ESL) RFID POS (point of sale) integrations, and RFID smart carts, etc. is enhancing the in-store customer shopping experience with easy browsing of articles, short queues and fast checkouts are drawing in more consumers. 

RFID Technology and the Indian Retail

The Indian retail market post-pandemic is mainly struggling with two things, one being the rise of e-commerce and the other being the supply chain disruptions, bottlenecks, and in-store customer expectations and experience. Integration of IoT and RFID in retail businesses is definitely bearing fruits in this regard.

The India RFID Market, as per Allied market research was estimated at 523.7m USD in 2020, and it is expected to reach 1.8B USD by 2030, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.1% during the forecast period. And given the resilience and farsighted business approach of Indian retailers, RFID is bound to see more retail and supply chain integration in the near future.

“The Indian retail landscape is highly competitive but there are also tons of opportunities here. Disruptions due to supply chain bottlenecks and lack of item visibility are still a big issue here. What is needed is an increased focus on strengthening the supply chain digital infrastructure and inventory-item localization via the use of RFID, BLE, and other IoT technologies. RFID technology is the future of retail supply chain enabling item-level tagging, real-time tracking and increased visibility and order fulfillment.”, said Arvind, director, Ruddersoft Solutions Private Limited.

The retail market is still quite unexplored and untapped here and in the upcoming decade, more and more consumers will add to the existing market. Various retail businesses are aware of this fact and leveraging RFID technology to upgrade their supply chain and logistics networks. 

RFID is a wireless technology that employs a set of RFID tags, RFID readers, antennas, and RFID software to identify and track retail products and pallets throughout the supply chain, warehouses, and stores. 

When RFID tags attached to apparel, shoes, pallets, etc., come within the read range of an RFID reader, these tags capture the radio frequency signals coming from the reader and send the encoded data the same way. RFID readers capture and decode this data for the end users. 

Indian retail is one of the key drivers of the Indian economy with a valuation of 1.3T USD in 2022 which is expected to grow to 2T USD by 2032. With a 1.4B population, India is the fastest-growing economy in the world and the market opportunities in retailing are abundant. As more retail businesses, domestic and foreign, use RFID tags for product-level tagging and supply chain visibility, the RFID market will likely grow at a higher CAGR than 14.1%.

RFID and the Retail Applications

The use of RFID in global retail businesses is about everything including item-level tracking, supply chain, and in-store operations. Walmart started its first pilot project with RFID in the early 2000s (2003/07) and later in September 2022, Walmart mandated their suppliers in toys, home and furniture, electronics, and other categories to use RFID tags for quick inventory count and tracking. 

But Walmart is not the only global retail giant to do so. Retail businesses such as Macy’s, Zara, H&M, Target, etc. are also using RFID technology to strengthen their supply chain and keep an accurate inventory. 

This large-scale adoption of RFID technology in supply chains and retail stores for item-level tagging is also due to the fact that UHF Passive RFID tag prices have come down significantly. The UHF RFID labels that earlier cost around 40-50 cents now cost only 4-5 cents. 

In India, the use of RFID is currently limited to commercial purposes mostly. It is used in retail, asset management, libraries, healthcare, and logistics businesses at present but as more business owners and people (in general) become aware of its IoT use cases, indoor tracking and smarthome, smart office security, sensing applications, and access control, etc., Indian RFID market will definitely witness massive growth over time. 

Retailers also need to focus on stock level fluctuations and changing customer expectations and to succeed in this market, they must also pay close attention to data and analytics (with the help of RFID and AI and ML technologies) to identify areas that need targeted efforts including new marketing strategies.

To conclude, RFID tagging is witnessing rapid adoption in Indian retail and supply chain and as more businesses realize the benefits of this technology in terms of item-level tracking, accurate inventory count, and how it can replace the barcoding system with chipless RFID, the RFID market size in India will touch new heights in terms of volume and valuation.


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  • Created on Aug 25, 2023

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