Item Level RFID Business Will Exceed $8 Billion in 2018

Item level RFID used to mean little more than tagging very low cost retail items. However, it has become big business and far more profitable than many other RFID sectors because it gives excellent paybacks to everyone, not just retailers.

Research and Markets assesses over 100 case studies such as Marks & Spencer in the UK using over 100 Million RFID tags to date to tag clothing and increase sales by reducing stockouts, in addition to others such as American Apparel doing similar work and reporting sales increases by 15% to 25% when all items are available on the floor.

According to Research and Markets, item level RFID business will rise from $251.79 Million in 2008 for systems including tags to $8,263.7 Million in 2018. Detailed forecasts are given including number of tag units sold over the next ten years, average tag price, and tag value, in addition to systems value.

The biggest item level potential involves uniquely coding very high volume products, such as consumer goods, postal items, apparel, books, drugs and manufactured parts. These total 5-10 trillion items a year. Item level tagging therefore involves most or all of the following features and this creates technical and business challenges and benefits that are very different from those in other applications of RFID. We look at technologies which can ultimately achieve this, such as printed RFID where no silicon chip is employed in the tag.

However, it is challenging to meet the most sophisticated requirements for item level tagging and to evolve appropriate technical specifications and approval procedures for, say, mission critical aircraft parts. At the other extreme it is tough to get down to the price that justifies tagging a can of soda in a supermarket or a letter. Item level tagging has therefore started with the many lucrative intermediate requirements as shown below and it is rapidly widening in scope.