Combining RFID and Data Enrichment

From marketing to fraud prevention, RFID can make better sense of the world around us, providing context and automating tedious tasks.

In the simplest of terms, data enrichment refers to getting additional information from a single data point. But its uses and its potential are endless. From better marketing to fraud fighting, to enriching data stored on an RFID tag, let’s look at how it helps to make better sense of the world around us, providing more context and more useful information, while automating tedious tasks.

What Is Data Enrichment?

Gergo Varga


Gergo Varga

Data enrichment technology draws additional information from various databases so we can find out more about something or someone, starting with a single data point. It involves taking existing digital information and adding in any missing or incomplete data. This can be achieved using open sources, or even a company’s database. Such databases can be internal or external, closed or open. The latter is called open-source intelligence (OSINT). Data enrichment is, therefore, a useful way of providing more information relevant to a data point, or a complete set of data for your record.

As data enrichment is a method of augmenting data, it serves many different purposes to businesses. For instance, if you are an online merchant and want to find out more about a customer, you can enrich primary data points like email addresses, phone numbers or IP addresses with additional information about their social media history, or whether their email address is disposable for instance. Understanding your customer’s personalized needs and intentions can help you make better decisions. You can also spot consumer or fraudster trends more quickly, as well as target offers to customers (such as discounts or influencer collaborations).

First, we’ll go into some detail about how data enrichment can be used to catch fraudsters. Then, we’ll show how it can be used on the same primary data (phone numbers and email addresses) to segment different customer personas. Then, we’ll look at how data enrichment can be used on the data contained on RFID tags, across industries like retail and shipping, and for companies that are looking to streamline their approach to managing their inventory.

How Is It Used? A Case Study from Fraud Prevention

Data enrichment can be used to find out more about who you are selling your products to, which means that as a tool it’s often used in fraud detection and protection software to spot criminals. So how does this work? First, there’s information you can gather, like their email address or phone number, during the onboarding process—or, in the case of their IP address, when they take an action on your site. This is known as primary data—the data which can be enriched via other sources.

This data can then be enriched by aggregating data from sources, including social media and other similar apps. As a guide from SEON explains, reverse phone lookup tools can draw data from open sources to tell us information about a customer based on their phone number, such as whether their phone number is real, and whether it is disposable. This extra information is the user’s digital footprint, including if an email address is on a blacklist, what social media accounts are connected to the address and when those accounts were created.

You might start to notice patterns between customers taking certain actions, and their digital footprint. Enriched data can, therefore, tell us a lot about customer actions, even if they’re not fraudulent. They can be used to tell us about customer personas, as will be explained below.

How Is It Used? A Case Study from Marketing

Marketing teams are always looking to find new ways of grouping customers together. Data enrichment can be used to segment your customers based on the information they share. Customer segmentation is highly lucrative—80 percent of customers do business with companies that specially tailor their experience to them, as noted by NotifyVisitors. You might segment users by demographic or shared behaviors.

Data enrichment is a great way to segment your customers based on shared characteristics, like sets of customers who all use the same social media, or who take similar actions on your site. Really, segmentation is a way of dividing your customer behaviors into distinct groups and marketing your products accordingly in a way that best suits them. Here’s one example: data enrichment can tell you whether a customer has an email address or phone number linked to streaming service platforms. If your product offers any streaming capacities, you can target ads to them that address their potential interest in this service.

High-value customers are those with increased influence, social media reach and spending power. By enriching their primary data like IP, phone number or email address, you might pick up from their digital footprint such information as whether their IP address is based in an affluent area or whether they have a high-profile social media account with a lot of followers. Loyal customers are also high in value—a Hubspot survey showed that the top 10 percent of your customers spend three times more than the average customer.

Your marketing team, therefore, can even use this information to spot whether a high-value customer is possibly an influencer. You can then reach out to these users, offering them the chance to collaborate with you on a product launch, or sending them free products for them to review on their page. Working with influencers can give your business a bigger reach and help you tap into new audiences who might be interested in what you’re selling.

Data enrichment is a strategy for dealing with data—it’s a tool to gather more data that is relevant to your customer’s primary data point. Because of this, there’s a lot of scope for data enrichment as a means of learning more about your customers. When it comes to data enrichment, RFID has a lot of potential as well. As RFID becomes cheaper and cheaper (according to a survey by SML, the average cost of an RFID tag has fallen by 80 percent), it’s becoming increasingly popular across multiple industries, many of which can take advantage of its data enrichment possibilities.

Unlike a barcode, RFID has read and write permissions, meaning that the data stored in its memory can be updated, too. It also means that you can use data enrichment to update itself. Imagine you’re running a luxury hotel with room cards containing an RFID chip. If you choose to update your central database with the name of the next guest, the chip can draw from your database or other open sources to provide information about the guest’s previous stays. As you can see, this makes data enrichment useful to companies that regularly change the data stored on an RFID tag.

Another example of how data enrichment can be used on RFID tags is in the retail industry. It takes advantage of one key functionality of RFID—instead of putting a new barcode atop an old one when changing a stocked item’s price, a supermarket can update the data on the RFID tag itself. Not only can the RFID chip be updated with a new price, but the data can be enriched based on the item number or the code itself and automatically send information about the item’s weight, or any other enriched data, to the RFID chip.

Depending on what data you’re starting with on an RFID tag, you can enrich it with other data points to find out more information. Consider modern library services that use RFID tags on books instead of barcodes. With RFID tags, customers can check books in and out of a library via self-service machines using automated materials-handling technology. When a book is checked out using the RFID tag, its data can be enriched in order to update it with this information.

Without having to be stamped (to show when it has been checked out), RFID tags can use data enrichment to update themselves with this information, indicating a book has been checked out, and when. Some RFID readers come with a customer interface that shows more about a book once it’s been scanned.

Overall, this can speed up the entire library service, from a customer finding out more about a book’s author, to checking books in and out of the library inventory. It also has the potential to save librarians time, as it means they do not have to answer basic queries, such as whether other books by the same author are in stock. Instead of looking up their records, a customer could scan a book’s RFID tag using a self-service machine. The data from the tag would then be enriched by drawing those data points from the library record itself, and thus provide an answer for the customer.

Final Points

As you can see, an RFID tag can be used to store data about items moving into and out of inventory. Enriching it with data points in a database might tell you additional information, such as changes to pricing. Shipping or delivery companies can use this information to monitor the exact moment when items are moving into and out of a warehouse or storage facility. This automates the process, meaning workers in a warehouse do not have to update records manually every time an item leaves the facility.

Data enrichment involves getting more information from a single data point using enrichment from other external or internal sources. As a result, it has many uses, from finding out a customer’s personalized needs and intentions (using their primary data), to enriching data on RFID tags. As explained above, data enrichment can be used to trigger an RFID tag to update itself. You can also use data enrichment to monitor or update changes to RFID-tagged items moving into and out of inventory. This makes it particularly effective for businesses looking to streamline the tracking and monitoring of their entire inventory, speeding up processes and saving time otherwise lost on manual review.

Gergo Varga has been fighting online fraud since 2009 at various companies, even co-founding his own anti-fraud startup. Gergo is the author of the Fraud Prevention Guide for Dummies—SEON Special Edition. He works as a content evangelist at SEON, using his industry knowledge to keep marketing sharp, and communicating between different departments to understand what’s happening on the frontlines of fraud detection. He lives in Budapest, Hungary, and is an avid reader of philosophy and history.

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Combining RFID and Data Enrichment


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