RFID Technology Comes To Severna Park

The Smart Retail Label (pictured here at the Severna Park Rite Aid) allows consumers to wave their phones in front of tags to get immediate product information, coupons, recipes, reviews and more.
The Smart Retail Label (pictured here at the Severna Park Rite Aid) allows consumers to wave their phones in front of tags to get immediate product information, coupons, recipes, reviews and more.
Jillian Amodio

Your consumer shopping experiences are about to take on a bold new future, one that is more immersive and information-forward.

We often hear about new tech coming out of Silicon Valley, but Severna Park is placing its own mark on the map when it comes to new technology.

Smart Retail Label (SRL) Network originated in the Annapolis area with the goal of putting pertinent information about products directly at the fingertips of everyday consumers.

Compass Marketing CEO John White recently gave me an in-depth tour of the recently implemented technology being used at the Severna Park Rite Aid. As I stood in front of digital tags, he simply waved his smartphone in front of the labels, and up popped information about the products. This technology is empowering and educating consumers.

The SRL uses a unique form of radio-frequency identification (RFID) to communicate to consumers from the shelves inside of stores and packages on consumer products. Labels used on shelves and packages are activated by waving a phone in front of the icon, which then takes the user to the network that lists product information such as ingredients, coupons, potential allergies, recipes, reviews and more. There is no special app needed and no camera access; simply unlock your phone and wave.

So how does it work? RFID technology uses electromagnetic fields to locate and recognize tags containing specific content that is stored electronically. RFID, like that used in the SRL Network, uses NFC or near-field communication. This is the same technology used in things like Apple Pay. Essentially, NFC allows for two electronic devices to communicate when in close proximity. SRL works with both Android and Apple products.

Why is this technology so valuable to consumers and retailers? From a business and retail perspective, it helps make operations more efficient. Gone are the days of price checks and inaccurate prices reflected on paper tags. The SRL Network is updated remotely every day, automatically sending correct product information directly to the tags on the shelves and products. White said that one store manager even thanked him for giving him his weekends back. The manager said prior to implementing this technology, his Saturdays were spent retagging shelves, an arduous task that has now become obsolete.
For consumers, the benefits are immeasurable. Allergens, coupons and useful information are mere centimeters away and easily accessible with a wave of the wrist.

While this is an already exciting use of accessible technology, more enhancements are to come, including handy search features that will alert customers to specific products they are searching for by flashing a red light on the tag near the product they are seeking.

To educate consumers on how to use these new features, Compass Marketing is leading social media campaigns and supplying stores with signs and infographics. While Compass Marketing owns the technology, the network itself is backed by Microsoft.

When asked about any potential security concerns, White said that the company does not keep any consumer data.

“We do not broker in the sale of data. The network is safe, secure and efficient,” White explained. “We are committed to never selling personal data, and protecting consumer data and privacy. We are simply striving to help build bridges between retailer and consumer and solidify the relationship between product and customer.”

Perhaps the most exciting feature about this technology is the environmental impact it will have. According to research done by Compass Marketing, 7 million trees per year are destroyed for the production and implementation of paper tags on retail shelves. Not only are they unsightly and often incorrect; they are also labor-intensive and harmful to the environment. Whereas the traditional vinyl-coated paper tags are not biodegradable, the digital tags are updated remotely, removing the need for manual correction, and they offer a five year battery life.

This new technology has been in the building phase for the past five years, and while it has just recently been implemented in Severna Park and Annapolis, it is expected to be nationwide by 2020. Consumers can expect to find this technology in the near future at stores like Rite Aid, CVS, Walgreens, Graul’s Market and Whole Foods.

For more information about the network, including a privacy statement, visit thesrlnetwork.com.


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