Monday, February 16, 2009

The Coolest RFID Tag Ever

OK, that may be a bit over the top, but Ed Holcomb from VRF Holdings sent me an ePaper hang tag, and I have to say, it looks really good. Mine doesn't have the antenna in it, but the whole shebang is real, and it takes your average RFID handheld reader to get it going.

Price changes at the shelf are the last manual step in a pricing process that is increasingly sophisticated. It's problematic enough for grocery, with promotional price changes that run in the hundreds every week, but as I can personally attest with my near-bouts of carpal tunnel after pricing entire racks of apparel for markdown, it's at least as bad, if not worse for apparel.

If the industry is going to get smarter about pricing, we're going to need to get smarter about our price tags. This is a pretty cool step in the right direction.

1 comment:

Jon said...

This is sooo 1990s.

Back in the early 90s, I headed up a project to install electronic shelf tags at a large grocery retailers. I thought the idea was ingenious. We could initiate a price change instantaneously, at a much lower cost in labor, and it would always match the in-store processor - which would meet our legal requirements with the state. It cost $60,000 per store, which was doable, but a bit pricey.

The first problem we had was customers were so intrigued by them, they wanted to show their family. At home. Some were nice enough to return them when finished their show and tell. Otherwise, the project was successful.

The reason it ultimately failed was an issue of timing. At the same time, I was working on another project with IBM that I was sure would fail. Self-scanning. It was much more per store, required the weighing and measuring of 100s of thousand of items. It required huge changes in process for the store and consumer. We had to reconfigure the store. It should have failed.

But it didn't. When self scanning took off, there was no budget left for electronic shelf tags.

Electronic pricing at the shelf makes much more sense than at the item level. Unless, maybe, it was a car.