Brands and retailers from that world, known for being generally slow to embrace technology, have started adopting RFID for different purposes. Some are using it to help them combat counterfeit products, others to make in-store shopping seem more futuristic. And these are just a couple examples. Last year, for instance, fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff began rolling out an RFID-powered self-checkout feature at her boutiques. The system consists of RFID tags tied around items, like a garment or handbag, and smart tables that can read them and send product information to a nearby iPad. The idea is to let you pay faster than you would with a traditional cashier.
For the most part, Minkoff's self-checkout works smoothly, though it does get tedious when you have to wait for a store associate to come and physically remove the RFID tags from whatever product you've purchased. That said, one of the main reasons companies like to experiment with RFID is its versatility. In Minkoff's stores, the same RFID tags used to create a speedier checkout process also double as a security measure. Say someone tries to leave without paying for a $500 purse: The chips will set off an alarm that alerts associates as soon as the individual tries to step out the door.
While Minkoff's version of self-checkout isn't as automated as what Amazon has planned for its future Go stores, which will offer a Just Walk Out Shopping experience, RFID is a solid alternative for brands that may not have the same resources as a tech giant. If you're wondering why Minkoff didn't just use NFC, it's because RFID is more cost-efficient and offers a longer read range. Mark Roberti, editor in chief of the industry publication RFID Journal, said RFID tags are less expensive than NFC ones due to the "simplicity" of the antenna construction. NFC also relies heavily on Bluetooth, which isn't the case for RFID.
Italian-French luxury label Moncler is another fashion company that's shown interest in RFID. Unlike Rebecca Minkoff, however, Moncler's use is intended to combat fake goods. Last year, the company announced that starting with its spring-summer 2016 collection, it would outfit products with RFID chips that customers could use to authenticate via an app or website. Thanks to the tech, each piece now comes with a unique ID that buyers can scan and, within seconds, find out if their recently purchased garments are legit. This could come particularly in handy if you bought something secondhand or not directly from Moncler.