Today mobile phones are so ubiquitous, we’ve forgotten the trajectory that brought us to this point. According to the Technology Review, it took 12 years from the introduction of the first mobile phones for consumers to reach 10% penetration in the US market, but it only took another seven years to reach 40% penetration. That period can be considered the hyper-growth phase of the market during which the mainstream dove in. Compare this to the adoption of UHF RFID in item level apparel tagging.
Impinj delivered the industry’s first UHF Gen2 chips in 2005–so we are only eight years into the adoption process as we bring 2013 to a close. And yet, according to Raghu Das, CEO of IDTechEx, “8% of the 25 billion items sold by the world’s top 50 apparel retailers already carry a UHF RFID tag”. Mr. Das also predicts that, by 2016, “one quarter of those items will be tagged”. This pace is faster than the history of mobile phone uptake, and is all the more impressive given that the adoption of RFID by retailers requires addressing a whole range of supply chain, operations and IT issues.
The ROI for RFID in retail is well established, driven primarily by the drive for improved shopping experience and omni-channel business models. Early-adopting retailers have shared their deployment results and learnings, which has allowed solutions to evolve and the technology to become easier to deploy. I expect that over the next couple of years, adoption of RFID in retail will shift from periodic hand-held based methods to continuous inventory visibility enabled by fixed reader infrastructure. Additionally, it will be necessary for apparel brand owners and manufacturers to learn how to efficiently encode and verify RFID tags in the supply chain. Over the next year, Impinj will continue to bring innovations, like our xArray reader system and STP source tagging platform, to market. These products and other elements of our GrandPrix platform are the enabling technologies that will keep the adoption curve on track. We look forward to working with you to bring the benefits of RFID to your business in 2014!