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RFID Technology for ‘Grab and Go’ Automated Shopping Experience

  • Abhishek Shukla
  • Oct 13, 2023
  • RFID
RFID Technology for ‘Grab and Go’ Automated Shopping Experience

The Internet of Things has become so prevalent that it is not only helping businesses but also easing the daily hassles that people face. Various IoT sensors allow you to self-diagnose your vitals, oxygen intake, heart rate, etc. but that is not all. IoT technologies have become so advanced that you can remotely control your lighting, your appliances, and even your garage and parking. 

Businesses have always been the early benefactors of advanced technologies. Around the 2000s when RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) and IoT (Internet of Things) were in the initial stage of any credible commercial success, companies like Walmart, Gillette, Unilever, Pepsico, and P&G supported the development works, and thanks to that, now we have 15B IoT devices and 18.45B USD global RFID market which is expected to reach 35.6B USD by 2030.

RFID technology is now facilitating ‘Grab and Go’, a smart shopping experience based on automated purchasing where you just enter a store grab whatever you like to purchase, and just leave the store with products. No queues and no waiting at POS. 

Just Grab and Go: Automated Purchasing Experience 

Just grab-and-go retail stores are the ones where you don’t need to interact with retail store staff. Most likely, there wouldn’t be any staff. An automated purchasing experience involves customers entering one such shopping destination, which is done using a mobile application, integrated with a QR code, and automated payments linked with one’s bank account or digital wallet. 

E-commerce giant Amazon opened a ‘Grab and Go’ store in Seattle, USA where it allowed customers to enter the store after scanning their QR Code at the entry gates. The Amazon store utilizes computer vision, deep learning algorithms, and sensors to keep track of items picked up by customers in real time and when they exit the gate, the payment will be deducted automatically. 

This computer vision-based store was an instant hit amongst consumers and gave an idea of what the future holds when it comes to shopping. Various entertainment venues, universities, airports, grocery and convenience stores as well as stadiums across the USA, United Kingdom, and Australia have been providing customers with this extremely great ease of shopping, which is completely automated. 

Since 2018, the technology has advanced quite a bit and Amazon has successfully figured out various bottlenecks and customer-related issues. While the computer vision, deep learning, and sensor fusion-based check-out free stores were good for grocery shopping where items are shelved in packages, and allowed easy detection and tracking of such items for each customer entering the store, the stores needed to expand to other items such as beauty products, apparel, shoes, etc. This is where RFID comes into play. 

RFID technology for Automated Purchasing: Check-out Free Stores

RFID is a wireless technology that can automatically capture details of RFID-tagged products. It is an AIDC technology and uses a set of RFID tags, and RFID readers to a software system to identify and track objects and individuals. 

Customers like to shop for clothes when it is displayed on hangers, easy to check out the material and the feel of the outfit. The same goes for shoes and other items. Packed items in just walk-out stores have less appeal to shoppers and RFID tags can solve that problem. 

Various check-out-free stores are now using Passive UHF RFID (RAIN RFID) labels to tag shoes and apparel which can be easily displayed in automated purchasing stores. Each RFID label is encoded with item-specific data and with the help of RFID readers or RFID scanning zones near exits, customers can easily walk out with the shopped items. 

UHF RFID tags provide a long read range and can detect items from a distance of up to 15m. With RFID gate systems (RFID reader, antenna, and software) installed at gates, customers can enjoy the automated purchasing experience as they do in walk-out stores.

RFID tagging of products inside the store provides enough data regarding items being moved around the store, as it happens, customers do not necessarily buy every item they pick up. Sometimes they pick up a clothing item from one corner of the store and decide not to go along with that and leave it at another corner, resulting in no purchase of that item. RFID ensures that customers are correctly billed for items they shop. It also ensures easy returns.

To conclude, various retail and e-commerce business is coming up with smart retail stores that allow automated shopping where customers can just grab an item and leave, and payment is automated through RFID, computer vision, deep learning, sensors, and QR Code technology, giving customers a seamless, ‘just walk out shopping experience.’ The use of RFID technology allows store owners to freely display items such as apparel shoes, and beauty products which most customers prefer to shop that way only. RFID labels attached to products allow easy and accurate tracking of items throughout the store and increase visibility. and ensure correct billing.  

As AI and ML technology becomes cost-effective, more such automated purchasing stores are going to be the norm, providing customers with an enhanced level of shopping experience. 


Frequently Asked Questions

Q.1 What are ‘Grab and walkout’ stores?

‘Grab and Walkout’ or ‘Grab and Go’ stores are shopping stores with automated purchasing. Consumers can just walk into such stores and grab items of their liking and just walkout. The payment is automatically deducted from the QR linked digital wallet/bank account at exits.

Q2. What technologies are being used in check-out free stores?

Check-out free stores use a combination of RFID, computer vision, deep learning algorithms, QR Code, and sensor technologies to enable automated purchasing in Grab and Walkout stores, like the Amazon Go.

 Q3. What is the role of RFID in automated purchasing in retail stores?

RFID tags can be attached to clothes, shoes, beauty products and these items can be put on display, allowing customers to easily purchase such items. RFID provides accurate data and ensures accurate billing.

Disclaimer: The information presented here is for general information purposes only and true to best of our understanding. Users are requested to use any information as per their own understanding and knowledge. Before using any of the information, please refer to our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.

  • Created on Oct 13, 2023

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