The pandemic has changed our reality beyond work habits and social interaction. The way of shopping has also changed significantly. Online shopping was already gaining popularity, but the recommendations and regulations to stay at home accelerated its use as a sales channel. People who had not yet gotten used to making their daily purchases online and preferred to visit a physical store were forced to take the step. Even after brick-and-mortar stores reopen, the growth trend of online shopping is unlikely to slow to pre-pandemic levels. In their Life and Work Beyond 2020 survey of more than 10,000 people from 11 countries, Avaya reveals that 76% of those surveyed expect to continue shopping online in the future at the same level – or even more – than during the pandemic.
Things instead of experiences
Understandably, as people have been forced to spend a disproportionate amount of their time at home, they have chosen to consume “stuff” rather than experiences. This increased consumption of stuff has put pressure on supply chains, with demand for shipments rising so high it’s gotten to the point where there aren’t enough containers in circulation, and costs have skyrocketed.
While major shipping bottlenecks have decreased, consumption remains high, and container ships are continually overbooked. Of course, there are alternatives to shipping, such as air freight, trucking, and rail. However, due to the pandemic, there are far fewer international flights, which means less air capacity to transport cargo. There is also a shortage of drivers for the same reasons, and those working are being delayed by COVID testing regulations and border closures.
Radiofrequency identification technology or RFID is a profitable system
At the same time, with people spending more time at home more often, the demand for products purchased through e-commerce continues to grow along with rising expectations around delivery times. Without contemplating the idea of simply going to a store and returning with the items they want, it seems that consumers expect to be able to receive delivery of their online purchases almost immediately. There is a clear need for a technological solution to alleviate some of the pressure on supply chains in this scenario.
A critical part of helping logistics run smoothly is knowing where things are in the supply chain and how much it is. This means that products or shipments must be traceable as they move. GPS trackers are an option, but they are expensive, and they don’t pay for a single item.
In contrast, radio frequency identification (RFID) technology is cost-effective. It uses wireless signals to transfer data between a microchip and a reading device, allowing objects to be identified and tracked. One of its most common uses is in pet microchips or public transport travel cards, but it has excellent potential for supply chains.
Data transfer by scanning an RFID tag is ideal for tracking goods and shipments because, unlike barcodes, more information can be stored. This data can be read remotely at a distance of up to 12 metres, and the goods can be read in groups. This means an entire pallet load of RFID-tagged products can be ready in one go. Because each item can be given an identification code, and those codes can be overwritten, individual products can be tracked, and their location updated at particular points in their journey, such as when they leave the factory, move into a container, arrive at a port warehouse or are received by a distributor.
Printing and encoding of RFID labels
With so many benefits over its competitors, RFID technology is growing in popularity, backed by solid arguments for integrating into supply chains across all logistics and transportation sectors. One reason is that it’s easy and cost-effective to print and encode shipping and delivery bills or global freight bills and RFID labels in a single operation with a single office printing device. Furthermore, while the paper on which labels, invoices, and receipts are printed can be recycled, RFID chips are entirely reusable. The chips can be retrieved, rerun through a printer, and re-coded as many times as needed. Printing RFID labels on an office printer is a cost-effective and easy-to-implement way to track individual items or entire shipments throughout the supply chain.
Look for a duplex printer that not only prints with total colour toner, but more importantly also uses a laser printer (not thermal), as it is this capability that allows you to encode RFID chips embedded in paper and documents. . Custom solutions can combine the power of electronic forms, colour printing and specialty media capabilities in an all-in-one label and RFID colour laser or multifunction device. These solutions help eliminate the risk of discrepancies between RFID tags and tags and consolidate device management into a single solution. If barcodes are also needed to display immediate visual information, an office printer technology can easily print them too, and a duplex printer means the user experience is optimized. Different media trays allow colour or monochrome printing on any size and type of document required for a package – invoices, advertisements, shipping labels, and customs declarations – all in one device. With printed RFID tracking, answering the question “where is my material?” is much more accurate.