ITHACA, NY — Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology is being increasingly used by retailers to track their products, but this technology is being employed to a different extent in the United States and in Europe.
That’s the issue that a faculty member in the Ithaca College School of Business will be addressing, thanks to a Fulbright-Schuman Innovation Grant. Assistant Professor of Management Narges Kasiri will spend May through August of 2017 collaborating with researchers at the University of Cologne in Germany and University of Parma in Italy to study RFID adoption patterns by retailers in the U.S. and Europe.
Designed to replace barcode systems, RFID tags each individual product in a store, so that it can be tracked from when it reaches the loading dock to when it is sold. Retailers benefit because it improves inventory management, while shoppers benefit because “smart carts” can help them locate what they want in a store more easily. Lowering costs and enhancing the shopper’s experience is especially critical at a time when bricks-and-mortar stores are vying with online retailers for the consumer dollar.
Kasiri says that more retailers are adopting this technology as costs have dropped and its advantages are being realized, but a number of issues remain. This includes how retailers can best manage consumer privacy, since the information gathered from RFID-equipped products can effectively identify and track a shopper’s movement within a store — and potentially even after the shopper leaves the store.
“At macro level, we will study how policies on privacy and other issues across countries and continents have influenced the adoption of RFID,” says Kasiri. “At a micro level, we will investigate RFID-enabled changes in the retail industry, from store layouts and shelf spaces to processes such as assortment management and product replenishment. This analysis will help us develop some guidelines for more comprehensive and standardized adoption of the technology.”
Part of the Core Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program, the Fulbright-Schuman Program is a highly competitive exchange program jointly financed by the U.S. State Department and the Directorate-General for Education and Culture of the European Commission. Kasiri is one of just five research scholars from the United States selected to receive a Fulbright-Schuman grant this year.
The newly established innovation grants category is an initiative to support researchers from the United States and the European Union who work at the intersection of technology and policy, allowing for a transatlantic approach to harnessing the potential of new technologies.
Kasiri teaches courses in operations management and business analytics. Her research has been published in ACM Transactions on Management Information Systems and the European Journal of Information Systems, among other publications.