November 2nd, 2016

Choosing the Right RFID Inlays for Retail

choosing the right RFID inlaysThe adoption of RFID technology in retail is growing at a rapid pace. According to the IDTechEx 2016 forecast, the number of tags used in 2017 is expected to reach more than 5 billion. By the end of 2016, SML alone will be responsible for encoding and delivering over one billion RFID tags.

The reasons for this massive adoption are clear: retail has more to gain from RFID technology than just about any other industry. Global retail brands like American Apparel, Macy’s, Marks & Spencer, Decathlon and Tesco have already publicly stated the benefits of their RFID deployments: increased inventory accuracy, improved customer service, reduced shrink, sales lifts and more. These benefits are causing many other retailers to look into implementing RFID to get similar competitive advantages.

However, retailers new to RFID understandably have many questions, and one of the most common involves choosing the right RFID inlays. With so many different tags and manufacturers to choose from, how can you know which are best for your application? Luckily, SML’s vast experience with real-world retail deployments has allowed us to determine some of the most important factors when choosing the right RFID inlays for any retail operation. They are:

1. Optimal Size

There are many application methods for using RFID tags in retail, but one of the most common involves putting the inlays in apparel hang tags or labels. The best RFID inlays will be small enough to fit discretely onto these hang tags, while also still being powerful enough to have a long read range for maximum inventory accuracy. Because it’s ideal for retailers to minimize the number of different-sized inlays they must use in their deployment, it’s best to use RFID tags that can be implemented properly into any standard size hang tag.

This is where SML’s GB3 inlay comes in. At just 50 x 30 mm, it’s small enough to fit on the vast majority of hang tags used throughout the world, while also having the excellent read range provided by typical UHF inlays that have dipole antennas totaling six inches in length.

2. Tested in Retail

While RFID is being adopted heavily by clothing and apparel companies, retail is certainly not the only industry that uses it. RFID technology is implemented in manufacturing, healthcare, construction, ID systems, payment and many other applications. This means that there may be RFID providers who offer retail solutions but have not extensively tested their technology in a real-world retail environment. SML’s RFID tags have been thoroughly tested to provide accurate inventory management in very specific retail applications, such as on cardstock hang tags, different types of poly bags, and within stacked denim jeans.

3. Top Integrated Circuits (ICs)

One of the most important aspects of a good RFID tag involves the quality of the RFID chip within it. SML’s RFID inlays make use of the best ICs on the market from top manufacturers such as NXP, Impinj and Alien. These different ICs have different functions, features and memory capacities, which has allowed us to create a wide range of RFID inlays that provide our customers with a great selection to choose from when it comes to fulfilling the needs of their unique applications.

4. ARC Certifications

The RFID Lab at Auburn University has developed an important set of performance standards for RFID tags that solution providers throughout the entire retail RFID industry strive to meet when developing their technologies. These standards, known as ARC, involve rigorous testing in 11 different categories of RF performance. The best RFID inlays will meet as many of these requirements as possible, and SML’s GB3R6 and GB3U7 happen to be the only RFID tags on the market that meet all 11 ARC standards.

Choosing the Right RFID Inlays Can Be Simple

Of course, no retailer has to make this choice alone. SML’s expert team is more than happy to talk with you and help you with choosing the right RFID inlays for your situation. Also, please check out our white paper titled, “How to Choose an RFID Inlay for Retail Inventory Management,” which describes even more factors for picking the right inlay and delves deep into the technical aspects of SML’s superior selection of RFID technology.