RFID for Grocery: Automatically Change Prices and Alert Recalls

rfid groceryTwo U.S. grocery store chains will begin testing an electronic shelf label (ESL) system that uses RFID-based LCD displays. The displays will be able to identify products and their prices, allowing for immediate shelf-side updates, which can be managed from a remote location. This allows the stores to step away from paper labels, cutting costs and benefitting the environment.

Since an average chain makes 10,000-12,000 price changes a week, creating an RFID-based LCD display solution also saves the labor intensive products of manually affixing new labels to the shelves, in addition to dramatically reducing error. Although barcode based systems are employed at checkout for accurate point-of sale data, shelving has always been removed from the electronic data streams.

A 2.4 GHz RFID chip with a proprietary air-interface with a coin battery and a chip controls the label’s LCD screen, with each label’s RFID chip storing the product’s stock-keeping unit (SKU) number, name, price and other information. A computer server receives pricing updates from the headquarters and sends price changes, allowing RFID readers installed in the ceilings to transmit new information to the appropriate shelf lapels. Upon receiving the updates, the information immediately changes on the LCD screen, and a confirmation is sent back.

In addition, workers can use a handheld RFID reader to display internal data on the LCD screen, such as barcodes and SKU numbers. The RFID system also makes it easy for product recalls, flashing an alert across the LCD screen, immediately warning consumers to not purchase that item.  

While still in the pilot stage, the system is proving to be an excellent return on investment. If you’re interested in using RFID technology to increase the efficiency of your business, you can learn more here.