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Ikea Tests a New RFID System

Ikea is changing the shopping experience with RFID.

We all know about the joys of Ikea: the colorful, minimalistic showrooms, the funny product names (FLÄRDFULL means vain in Swedish!) and the famous meatballs.

It’s all fun and games until you’re hampered by a heavy cart or your arm is losing circulation carrying all the things you didn’t realize you needed. If this sounds familiar, you may be in luck in the future. The furniture giant recently tested out the use of RFID tags in a pop-up store in Toronto to make shopping a cart-free, tote-free experience.

Each customer received a wooden spoon outfitted with a low-frequency (LF) RFID tag. To add an item to their virtual cart, they simply tapped the spoon against a built-in RFID reader at each product’s display and an LED light would flash to indicate that the spoon ID was read. Behind the scenes, the reader sent the spoon ID to software onsite, at which point staff would add the physical item to the customer’s order.

At checkout, the shopper tapped their spoon at the final reader, which pulled up the item list on a touch screen for review, approval and payment. At this point, staff brought up the merchandise.

The spoon and software, which do not link to the shopper’s name, helped to keep staff on top of inventory in real-time and alert them when replenishment was needed. Though this was a relatively short two-week trial, the company is looking into other ways of using RFID tags.


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