Microscopic Chip Could Revolutionize the Way People Shop

A tiny chip is making big waves in the shopping industry, and it has the potential to transform the way people shop.

You might not notice them on first glance, but many product tags are now starting to incorporate miniscule radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips. These barely perceptible chips can only be seen if you hold the tag up to the light, but their power can be felt almost immediately.

RFID chips can make the entire shopping process much smoother for businesses and consumers alike. They cost just pennies to make, but they could boost the bottom line dramatically.

These chips give each item in a store a unique identifier. A companion RFID reader can then enable employees to quickly find specific items in the store, cutting out customer wait times and making online click-and-collect purchases a lot smoother.

Real-world RFID Retail Applications
Levi’s has already put the technology to good use. Shopping for jeans can be a frustrating experience under the best of circumstances, but when the last pair of jeans in the size and length you need has been stuffed on a wrong shelf somewhere by another customer, that annoyance is likely to reach a fever pitch. Chances are good that you’ll be forced to take your business elsewhere or go home empty-handed.

In the Intel booth at the National Retail Federation’s Big Show, Levi’s demonstrated how the chips can help employees quickly zero in on misplaced items or refill ones that have just gone out of stock so they don’t miss out on a single sale.

The G-Star Raw clothing chain has found another clever use for RFID technology. When shoppers approach TV screens in the store with a garment containing the chip, the screen will display more information about the product and give advice about building a complete outfit around it. New Balance and L.L. Bean are following a similar approach, and big retailers such as Target and Kohl’s are now implementing the technology on a wide scale.

As the size and cost of the chips continues to dwindle, their potential uses are expanding well beyond the clothing sector, making this one technology that no business can afford to ignore.