RF smart labels could revolutionise the grocery industry according to predictions from a German research body. Eurohandels Institut md Michael Gerling said smartchip labels on all items would mean customers checking out of stores automatically. They could pay for shopping by swiping labels with a loyalty payment card. Any items not swiped would set off alarms on leaving the store. Gerling said that in the case of the 1156bn German grocery industry, automatic checkout could save retailers 14.5bn in staff costs. That would work out at around 120bn savings a year across Europe in cashier costs. But the downside is that 400bn disposable tags would be needed every year, at a current minimum cost of 25c each. Gerling said: "RF intelligent labelling in European grocery sector would cost 1100bn a year at 25c a tag. And the average cost of an item bought in a supermarket is only 11.6. So the technology is not yet cost-effective. But the systems have huge potential. Should we say goodbye to one of the biggest challenges in grocery or can we reduce the costs of tags?" Gerling asked delegates to vote on whether they thought the introduction of RF tags on all grocery lines in European supermarkets could become reality in 10 years. An overwhelming majority disagreed with the motion. Source tagging company Checkpoint systems vice president worldwide product management Thomas Upshur said: "This is a chicken and egg scenario. Until RF smart systems are implemented we will not get the volumes and without the volumes we cannot drive down the cost." {{NEWS }}