Enhancing retail efficiency with RFID smart shelves

Enhancing retail efficiency with RFID smart shelves

In the fast-paced world of modern retail, technology plays an increasingly significant role in enhancing the customer shopping experience, optimizing inventory management, and improving overall operational efficiency. One such dynamic duo in the world of retail innovation is the integration of smart shelves and RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) technology. These intelligent shelves are not only just static platforms for displaying products, but also becoming integral components of the next generation retail store.

Smart Shelves and RFID: A Dynamic Partnership

A smart shelf is a technological advancement that transforms traditional store shelving into a dynamic and interactive system. It is equipped with various sensors, technology, cameras, and data analytics capabilities to monitor, analyze, and respond to multiple parameters in real-time. Smart shelves can significantly enhance the customer shopping experience and improve inventory management. Therefore, customers will not find an empty shelf without the product anymore.

Smart shelves employ various technologies and functionalities to enhance the retail environment, such as:

Inventory management

With RFID technology, smart shelves can monitor the products they hold. This real-time inventory tracking minimizes stockouts, reduces overstock situations, and optimizes restocking processes. The successful stock management helps to reduce the additional costs for stock keeping, especially fresh foods or any expiry items.


RFID tags in the smart shelves can also be used with anti-theft applications to prevent The RFID system ensures effective tracking and authentication, reinforcing security protocols to prevent unauthorized removal from the designated area.

Data Driven

Smart shelves generate valuable data that can be analyzed to gain customer insight, popular products, and store traffic patterns. Retailers can use this data to create strategies regarding inventory, marketing, and store layout to elevate management in the retail stores.

Looking to the future, we can expect even greater integration of RFID and smart shelf technologies, focusing more on the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI). These advancements will further enhance the customer experience, optimize inventory management, and contribute to the sustainability of retail operations.

This article will explain about High-Frequency RFID (HF RFID) smart shelf, one of smart shelves that is available in the market.

High-Frequency (HF) RFID in smart shelves

High-Frequency (HF) Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) is a technology that uses electromagnetic fields to identify and track objects, people, or animals equipped with RFID tags. HF RFID operates at a frequency of 13.56 MHz and is commonly used in various applications that require close-range identification, including the smart shelf.

Another essential factor for HF RFID is the standard. HF RFID adheres to several standards and protocols that govern how RFID systems operate, ensuring interoperability and reliable communication between RFID tags and readers. Many key HF RFID standards and protocols exist, such as ISO14443(A/B), ISO15693, or JIS-X-6319-4 *(Felica™).

In smart shelf applications, HF RFID with ISO15693 standards is used as a core technology since it enables the simultaneous identification of multiple RFID tags. ISO15693 also provides more extended read range than ISO14443, making the multiple tag reading more powerful. This feature is critical in a smart shelf scenario because it allows for efficient and rapid scanning of multiple items on the shelf without data collisions or interference.

Figure 1 Components of smart shelf

SIC’s HF RFID reader ICs with smart shelves

SIC’s HF RFID reader ICs play a vital role in smart shelf applications. Those ICs are capable of reading multiple tags at a time as they conform with ISO15693, which is the core technology of how the smart shelf works. Figure 2 shows the smart shelf demonstration unit using RE31 reader IC that can detect up to 24 tags within a 24 cm x 16 cm area. SIC also provides reference design and support from our application engineering team, helping customers solve the issues that might happen during the design-in activities.

Figure 2 Demonstration unit of smart shelf

The reader ICs which suitable for smart shelf applications are:

  • RE31 – multi-protocol (ISO14443A,14443B,15693) HF RFID reader IC
  • RE41 – multi-protocol (ISO14443A,14443B,15693, *Felica™) HF RFID reader IC
  • RA12 – ultra-low power, multi-protocol (ISO14443A,14443B,15693) HF RFID reader IC

*FeliCa is a registered trademark or a trademark of Sony Group Corporation or its affiliates.

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