Sunday, October 31, 2010

No More Long Queues!! It's Time for RFID..

Have u faced the situation where you should make a long queue to make a payment when you shopping in the retail shops before? Are you often shopping in any retail shops during peak seasonal day like Hari Raya or public holiday? If yes, you might faced with a situation where you should make a long queue to make a payment right? These situations often happen especially during peaks seasonal days like Hari Raya or Chinese New Year and also during public holidays. Even though the retail shops have more than 10 counters but it still not help to reduce line of sight at cashier counter. Its take a longer time because the cashiers need to present the bar code of each product that customers buy one by one to a laser scanner.

This situation already happened to me during last Ramadhan, whereby I need to make a long queue to buy a few things that took more than half an hour of my time in MYDIN wholesaler. I believe that everyone outside also often face with this situation before and they might agree with me if I say that this scenario make us boring, wasting our time and spoil our shopping mood. Sometimes we will decide to change to shopping in another shop if we see there is a long queue in cashier counter. The retailers should take an action to overcome this bad situation and give better customer services if they don’t want this scenario harm their company profit. That’s why I think it’s time for MYDIN and other retail industries in Malaysian change their traditional methods from bar code to RFID tags. Why RFID? It because RFID give many benefit in retail industries but what I want to highlights here is benefit of RFID in improve customer services and as a way to overcome above problems.

What is RFID?
RFID or Radio frequency identification is an automated data-collection technology that enables equipment to read tags at a distance, without contact or direct line of sight. RFID uses radio frequency (RF) waves to transfer data between a reader and an item that is to be identified, tracked, or located. In its most basic form, an RFID system has two components: tags and readers. A tag (also known as a transponder) consists of a microchip that stores identification data of the item to which it is attached and an antenna to transmit this data via radio waves. A reader (also known as an interrogator) sends out a radio signal and prompts the tag to broadcast the data contained on its chip. The reader then converts the radio waves returned from the tag into digital data and forwards them to a computer system. A reader can scan an area for any tags that are tuned to the same frequency as the reader.

Why RFID Tags Over Bar-Code?
I’m suggest RFID tags rather than bar code because the best advantage that RFID have over bar code systems is its ability to read without line-of-sight. As we all know from shopping in retail stores, bar codes must be directly presented to a laser scanner in order to register. Staff or cashier must turn products around and hold the bar codes, flat and clean, up to a reader. With RFID, scanning of products requires none of this whereby the products only need to be brought within the appropriate distance of a reader. Can you imagine, it look like the future shoppers will walk through checkout lanes (or arches) to registering their purchases and payment instantly without wait in line or interact with cashier. It will give better shopping experience to the customer.

RFID tags also hold more data than bar codes. Whereby, RFID tags are capable to carrying more than 64 bits of information compared to only 19 bits with the bar code technology. This greater capacity allows the storing of additional information such as location, history, and destination data. This, in turn, allows for new process development and fail-safe mechanisms to be put in place.

RFID Tags are more sophisticated identification systems because it no needs to be placed in a position precisely relative to the scanner. In fact they can be read within a few feet of the RFID reader or scanner, with readability up to 20 feet for high-frequency and RFID tags can read with up to 100 tags in one time. This means that, if your entire grocery shopping is put into a bag and the bag is set on the scanner, all the RFID tags be read separately and your composite bill will generated immediately. So smart!!

What interesting about RFID is it readers also can sense items even though when the tagged items are hidden behind other tagged items. RFID uses a serialized number scheme such as EPC (Electronic Product Code). Each tag has a unique serial number. Serial number information is extremely powerful in understanding and controlling the supply chain and provides much more detailed behavior of the supply chain.

This serial numbers has many advantages such as food freshness/expiration. This information can tell for how long an item has been in the supply chain where as such information is not captured in bar code system. Hence items can be reached the right place at the right time. Furthermore RFID implementation able to monitors theft too because RFID systems have stronger sensor networking system or monitoring system than bar code systems. Other than that, RFID also bring other benefit to the retailers including reduce labor and inventory costs, offer many benefits in shrinkage reduction, tracking inventory management, material handling efficiency, increased product availability and improved asset management.

The successful stories from world’s largest retailers in implement RFID in their business operations like Wal-Mart and Metro Group can be a proved to show that RFID is the right choice to replace bar code. So for all of significant benefit that RFID able give to us why not Malaysia retailers adopt this sophisticated technology in their operations and become one of them. Since nowadays the usage of RFID is widespread, maybe it’s time for Malaysia to adopt it in their retail industries……. Hehe!! If we encourage researcher to come out researches about successful implementation in RFID, I believe this can be reality in Malaysia!! MALAYSIA BOLEH!!!!



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