No More Bulky RFID Tags in Retail

small rfid tagsHistorically speaking, one of the roadblocks that retailers have run into when considering adopting an RFID inventory management system involves the size and form factor of the RFID tags themselves. Despite the numerous benefits that retailers can gain after implementing RFID, including unprecedented inventory accuracy, reduced out-of-stocks, shrink reduction, sales increases and much more, RFID systems have sometimes been rejected by retailers for aesthetic reasons. Simply put, RFID tags have been too bulky for some retailers to implement them in an aesthetically pleasing and unobtrusive way. Clothing and accessory designers spend huge amounts of time and money creating tags, labels and packaging that optimally represent and enhance a company’s branding, and the last thing they want is to negate their hard work or be limited in their design by bulky, unflattering RFID tags.

Luckily for apparel designers, however, RFID tags now have various forms while performance has also advanced. RFID chip and tag developers are now creating technologies that are small and discrete enough to be implemented in inconspicuous ways that do not interfere with branding or tarnish the appeal of a product. These advancements have also allowed retailers to track previously difficult-to-tag items such as jewelry and perfumes, as well as enabling longer read ranges.

Increased Variety and Customization of RFID Tags

SML RFID has designed hundreds of inlays for businesses all over the world. This large variety of RFID tags allows retailers to track apparel, glasses, cosmetics, fragrances, accessories and many other types of products without negatively affecting packaging or clothing labels. We partner with the leading RFID chip suppliers to provide the smallest, most advanced RFID tags possible. These suppliers include:

Using the wide variety of chips created by these developers, SML can design high performance inlays that meet your specific needs and match your branding perfectly. Our tags are certified to meet the performance standards required by a retailer’s unique deployment circumstances. These ARC certification standards, defined by the RFID Lab at Auburn University, ensure that RFID tags “meet or exceed the levels of performance necessary to provide benefit to both the retailer and the retail supplier in a consistent and cost effective manner.” In fact, only two tags on the market – SML’s GB3U7 and GB3R6 – pass every single requirement in all 11 categories of the standards.

In addition, SML has the largest network of global service bureaus that allow us to deliver our digitally printed and encoded RFID tags to retailers wherever they’re needed all around the world. Whether you need fully integrated brand labels or integrated  RFID tickets or sew-in RFID tags, we can deliver them to any location within one week of getting SKU information.

Methods of Attachment

In addition to the large variety of tags now available, the methods of attaching these tags to products has increased. There are now many creative ways to attach RFID tags to items that do not alter branding and, in some cases, allow tags to be hidden entirely. Tagging methods vary depending on items’ shape, size, material, texture and other environmental conditions. Some of the most commonly used methods of attachment include:

  • Adhesive
  • Sewn-in
  • Hang-on
  • Hard tags

The hang tag is one of the most popular methods, and SML has designed inlays specifically for this application. At 50 mm x 30 mm, our GB3 inlays are small enough to be implemented in almost all of the clothing hang tags or labels typically used all over the world, while still being large enough to provide a superior read range.

Advanced Performance

As RFID chips have gotten smaller, they’ve also become more powerful. In the past, RFID inlay antennas needed to be fairly big to provide a long enough read range for shipping verification through dock doors. Now, RFID tags have been developed that have an extremely high read sensitivity while still being very small. These tags also provide optimum tracking performance for densely packed merchandise, which has been a common challenge within the retail industry’s use of RFID systems for inventory management. RFID tags now on the market have vastly increased the number of items that can be processed, allowing for higher accuracy and faster throughput.

In addition, SML has developed RFID-friendly packaging that has solved the problem of RF interference caused by liquid or metal in certain retail applications. This means that retailers can now use RFID to track small cosmetics and perfumes with unprecedented accuracy.

Unobtrusive Inventory Management

SML’s tags and software, combined with our partners’ RFID chips, allows for retailers to benefit from all the advantages of RFID inventory tracking without having to compromise their branding or design.   Please check out a wide selection of RFID Tags in London on October 25th and 26th at the SML RFID Retail Pop Up. Learn more at and we’ll help you determine the best tags for your application. Also, please check out our “How to Choose an RFID Inlay” brochure to learn more about our selection of RFID tags.