Most corporations are digital friendly because they need a secure process to protect their goods. NFC is a technology used in smartphones, laptops and the fashion industry. So, what is NFC? Who created this electronic innovation, and is it reliable protection from counterfeit issues?
Harry Stockman and Charles Walton: Pioneers of the future RFID and NFC
NFC (Near Field Communication) is a popular wireless system built into Android applications, credit cards and electronic devices. One of the best examples of how NFC is now frequently used is for
In the 1940s, one of the first to pioneer NFC was Swedish scientist Harry Stockman, who wrote a paper called ‘Communication By Means Of Reflected Power’.
In Stockman’s article, he described how the power of radio frequency and sending electromagnetic waves to another device could be used. In addition, he correctly forecast a bright future for radar technology.
Although he was not involved in its creation, Stockman’s prediction about RFID has come true, and it is now increasingly popular.
NFC is a type of RFID (radio frequency identification device). American inventor Charles Walton (1921 – 2011) was among the first to be awarded patents for his RFID-related creations. Many of his original patented designs, which save data onto an invisible microchip, have been modified and used in various systems to improve security. For example:
- Supply management
- International events and competitions
- Online payments
- IT general controls
- Medical technology industry
- Parking management system
- Library management system
Today, RFID technology is used worldwide in various industries – from warehouses to retail stores – with items tracked using a barcode, label or tag. The main difference between RFID and NFC is the range of communication.
However, although this innovative technology is commonplace, RFID still raises a number of concerns.
What is the RFID or NFC market trend in 2023?
Because RFID or NFC chips are now a necessity for most companies, researchers predict more substantial growth in the RFID industry.
The market trend is noticeable in the United States, with the market value being $14 billion in 2023 and predicted to reach $24 billion by 2033. Consumers and firms are using RFID tags more as their requirements evolve.
Think about it. On the one hand, you can protect your company, your goods and your workforce. And on the other hand, customers can trust you because of your reliability.
RFID has changed our lives; sellers scan their inventory to verify the stock; managers can identify items quickly and can classify them by size or according to the prices. Better supply management may increase sales and productivity. Consequently, employees will be more performant and have more time to attend to clients.
Furthermore, RFID has won over the healthcare industry. In 2022, the global RFID market amounted to $4.69 billion and is predicted to reach $22.7 billion by 2032. Hospitals and pharmaceutical firms champion this technology because it can track counterfeit drugs and, ultimately, protect patients.
- Reduction of medical errors
- Higher collaboration with the medical department
- Patient safety has improved
- Health management becomes less stressful
The pandemic was a painful situation for pharmacies and hospitals. However, they became more resilient, and RFID technology helped them to improve inventory management and patient care.
These are just a few reasons why RFID tags are common in the healthcare industry, particularly in North America.
We presume that Covid 19 had a huge impact on the medical process. In 2021, the global RFID market amounted to $22 million dollars. People are now more willing to change their inventory management and are able to control their time.
Decathlon Case Study: Real Innovation Enhancing Customer Care
French retail company Decathlon is the largest sporting goods retailer in the world and has already fully adopted RFID technology. Indeed, their store employees are also satisfied with this process, as it makes their job easier and they can spend more time with customers.
One hundred percent of Decathlon’s products have an RFID tag. It is either incorporated by the manufacturers or, for any untagged products, added to a label in-store. Furthermore, employees can use the Mobistore application to access additional product information. Mobistore is a software that helps the consumer check the details and number of items in stock.
So, on the one hand, employees can view multiple product features – sizes, colors, material and descriptions – and check the stock levels. Whilst, on the other hand, they are also able to monitor the technical information. The growing e-commerce trend means online customers can choose their products and check availability without going to the store.
The end result is that Decathlon offers a better customer care service, and its strategy has improved customer loyalty and satisfaction. Digitalisation also benefits Decathlon’s employees, who use this innovative application to enhance customer service.
RFID Management – Transforming the Luxury Retail Industry
Many consumers worry about whether the luxury items they have purchased are authentic, and the ‘gray market’ is also a genuine concern for the luxury retail industry. The term “gray market” refers to the import and sale of goods by unauthorized dealers. Currently, in Europe and the USA, this activity is unofficial, but it is not illegal. However, the consequences are that companies are losing money and credibility.
In 2019, the gray market represented 8% of the $257 billion personal luxury goods market. With the sales of fake handbags increasing every year, proving product authenticity is essential if retailers are to retain customers and brand loyalty.
In 2013, the EUIPO published a report about pirated products.
|Did you know that in 2013 global counterfeiting amounted to USD 460 billion?
But the gray market is not just a problem for Europe and the USA. All countries are suffering from the sale of pirated goods and policing it is a huge challenge that has negative effects on the economy:
- The value and reputation of the brand decreases
- Global trade is damaged by piracy and fake goods
- Counterfeiting reduces the employment rate
- Customers are the first victims of counterfeiting
This trend is exploding because of globalization and illegal trade. So, it is crucial that companies reinforce intellectual property rights to avoid counterfeiting.
Most luxury retailers are now investing in RFID solutions to protect themselves.
For instance, Gucci gives instructions to their retail stores before shipping products, and an RFID tag is available so they can find and track the product and the name of the store. The customer details are not visible after the purchase, so the company protects their confidentiality.
Likewise, Essilor Luxottica, a global leader in the eyewear and eyecare industry, has a similar process for their eyewear. In 2015, they launched the G.L.O.W. (Guaranteed Luxottica Origin Worldwide) program, an ‘innovative traceability system that uses RFID sensors embedded in Luxottica’s branded frames’. Because the RFID is safe, it doesn’t impact the customer’s health.
Essilor Luxottica has also been collaborating with eyecare experts around the world to guarantee the safety of their consumers. In 2016, they contributed to a UK BBC News programme investigating the counterfeit sunglasses market. Fake lenses in sunglasses are extremely dangerous and can cause deterioration of eyesight and, in worse cases, partial or complete blindness.
Finally, Zara, one of the largest fashion retailers in the world, is RFID-friendly. The Spanish firm has been using RFID for several years in their different applications:
- Click & Try helps consumers find the items they want and choose their stores
- Click & Collect is an application to order the items online
After the purchase, the RFID tags are returned to the manufacturers and reused in new items.
Thanks to the RFID application, luxury brands can authenticate their products and easily identify new and existing customers, who can then be rewarded with exclusive offers and loyalty gifts.
Advantages and Disadvantages of NFC product authentication
NFC has substantially changed the daily life of companies. They improve their organization thanks to a safer process, and furthermore, NFC is an excellent solution with regards to traceability.
- Better customer care
- Improved team communication skills
- More performant services
However, you may also be wondering if there are risks associated with RFID technology. Undoubtedly, there are some disadvantages:
- Computer viruses are common and could attack RFID systems.
- Counterfeiters can clone RFID tags because they are not safe.
- Hackers can intercept RFID data and steal valuable information
- RFID tags may become extremely expensive
- Customers need confidentiality and do not want to be tracked.
There are additional challenges, such as personal data privacy and potential environmental impact. According to some consumers, RFID tags are not eco-friendly, and they want more information about the components used in the microchips:
- How can they be reused or recycled?
- Do they increase pollution?
- Can they reduce their carbon footprint with electronic tags?
Indeed, European institutions are defending the circular economy to improve sustainability. In many ways, digitalization is undoubtedly beneficial for companies. However, as scientists highlight the increasing levels of plastic pollution in the ocean, companies have genuine concerns about increasing their use of tags and electronic devices.
Reinforcing Product Authenticity In 2023
Authentication is a high priority for luxury and fashion companies – they need to trust and rely on partners who can secure their products, especially during manufacturing.
Do you need more information about Alpvision’s authentication?
Discover more in our new whitepaper, which summarizes the steps you can take to protect your goods and protect customers. In our whitepaper, we also recommend some techniques you can use to fight against counterfeiters.
AlpVision Fingerprint can be used in addition to the RFID tag or in replacement.
AlpVision Fingerprint relies on the object itself. For example the sole of shoe, the texture of a handbag, the engraving on a cufflink. This texture can be unique per object (like in the case of handbag or laser etching on cufflink) or linked to the mold structure (like for the sole of the shoes).
Advantage of AlpVision Fingerprint is that there is no need of a special reader (which is needed for RFID). It is cheaper to implement. It is almost impossible to counterfeit.
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