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Smart Shopping Baskets

This will be the shopping basket of next generation shopping.

Actually, it is quite simple. Every item on the shelves will have RFID tags giving an identity to the item. During shopping, whenever you take an item off the shelf and appoach it to the shopping basket, you will be able to see some key information (such as date of last use) about the product on the small LCD screen located at the top of the basket.

Shopping basket will communicate with a central server which stores detailed product data as well as cross-sell and up-sell information. If it finds any eligible up-sell or cross-sell products, it will be displayed again on the shopping basket turning the shopping experience into a very compelling one.

The communication between the basket and the central server can be over 802.11b or its derivatives as of today.

Shopper will be able to see the total amount of items purchased during shopping.

During checkout, since the basket is aware of everything you have purchased there won't be a need to scan items through barcode readers. Shopper will simply pay and go.

This is technically possible right now but the cost of an RFID is around 7 cents (for bulks of 300,000). To be economically viable, RFID cost should be as low as 4 cents.

There might be some other practical uses of RFIDs too.

By using RFIDs, it will be possible to track the items within the shopping area. One benefit of this application is sensing thieves. For example, a smart shelf featuring an RFID sensor can alert an administrator when groups of products are taken off the shelf.

An other interesting application might be benchmarking and keeping the most frequently requested items always in stock.

A recent study by Gillette revealed that 73% of the customers left a store if Mach3 blades were out of stock and 27% bought a competitor's blades. Mach3 sales had gone up 288% at the Cambridge Tesco store that had a smart shelf featuring RFIDs.

Many interesting features can be achieved by using RFIDs compared with the passive barcodes.

The technological limitations of barcodes makes the growing interest in RFIDs easy to understand. It is estimated that on average 10% of stores are out of items the managers think are in stock and as many as 40% do not realize they are out of a color or size.

It will be possible to increase productivity and revenues by using RFIDs in creative ways.

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