Encoding is the process of programming data onto an NFC tag. It's similar to storing a file onto a USB stick.
When most NFC tags are manufactured, they contain two basic sections of information - a unique ID (UID) and some data to allow tag readers to identify the type of tag. Any additional data, such as a web address or your own unique ID, needs to be encoded onto the tag.
NFC Tags can be encoded with almost any NFC enabled Android mobile phone. This can work well if you are experimenting or encoding only a few tags. There's a good tutorial over at NFC.Today on how to encode NFC tags with an Android phone. However, if you are encoding hundreds or hundreds of thousands, then you almost certainly want Seritag to handle your encoding. On this page we describe how to order tags with encoding. For pricing, see our options price list.
Seritag can encode up to 100,000 NFC tags a day in-house using our own encoding machines. Unless you have a very complicated encoding job with multiple batches, adding encoding to your order is not likely to add any delay to your delivery.
Note that NFC tags can be provided locked or unlocked. There's more information on notes on locked/unlocked tags..
For the vast majority of applications, the data to be encoded is either a URL (web address) or text containing an ID. Seritag can encode other forms of data but for this, contact us before placing your order.
Let's consider encoding a web address, for example https://seritag.com/. There are three ways you might want to encode this.
This is easy. You simply want to encode the web address exactly the same onto every single NFC tag. If you ordered 1,000 tags, then you would recieve 1,000 tags all encoded with https://seritag.com. You can order this online by selecting 'Single Encoding' and entering your web address into the box. Remember to add either http:// or https:// (for a secure server link) as that part also gets encoded. The link and link structure is always checked by us before encoding so if something doesn't look right, we'll contact you before we go ahead. For larger orders, we may also send you a sample to double check. Locked or unlocked tags ?
So now let's assume you want to encode something different on each tag or perhaps in small groups. This is called variable encoding because each tag doesn't contain the same data. In this instance you need to provide a spreadsheet with your order telling us what you want. For example, you might want each tag encoded with different data. For example, you might want the first tag encoded with https://seritag.com/page?p=1 and then the next with https://seritag.com/page?p=2 and so on. Alternatively, you might want 120 tags encoded with https://seritag.com/page_a then 143 tags with https://seritag.com/page_b. Here are a few examples.
Example 1. Straightforward variable encoding
In this example, each tag is encoded with it's own web address and locked. To order this online, you would select 'Variable Encoding', 'No UID Scan', 'No ID Print' and '1 Batch'. Your tags would be delivered in an envelope, reel or multiple reels depending on the quantity ordered.
Example 2. Variable encoding with grouped quantities
In this example, the encoding is variable but there are multiples of each encoding option. In total here, 78 tags have been ordered (20+25+30+3). The tags are delivered in a single batch which in this case would probably be a single reel. To place this order online, you would select 'Variable Encoding', 'No UID Scan', 'No ID Print' and '1 Batch' - the same as example 1.
Example 3. Variable encoding in batches
Similar to example 2, the data is variable and each data line has a multiple of tags. However, in this instance, the encoding groups are divided and delivered in separate batches labelled 'Paris', 'Rome', 'London' and 'Berlin'. In these quantities, that's likely to be four envelopes of tags but in larger quantities could be four reels (or boxes of reels). To order this online, you would select 'Variable Encoding', 'No UID Scan', 'No ID Print' and '4 Batches'.
Normally, NFC tags are supplied on a single reel or, in lower quantities, small strips. Batching is where the tags are sent to you in separate packs. This may be in small bags for a few tags or it might be separate reels for larger orders. This might be because you are using the tags for different things or sending them to different departments or printers. In this case, you need to upload your spreadsheet with the batches listed as in the example above. When ordering online, you also need to specify how many batches you are ordering. You can find more information on how tags are delivered.
Once you have your spreadsheet or encoding URL ready, then you can just order online. If you are not sure or have a very complex order, then you can always just email us the spreadsheet and we will guide you through.
We check over your order very carefully before starting to encode. If we think there may be a problem then we will contact you before we begin. We are very experienced with encoding so we know what to look for. For larger orders, we may contact you and then send a sample tag before we go ahead. We will always contact you first.
Important note on privacy : Seritag understand that sometimes the data sent to us will be for projects not live yet. Unlike some NFC suppliers, Seritag encode all tags in house using our own equipment. We do not pay licence fees or need to upload any data to anyone else. Your data will remain with us at all times and, should you choose, can be deleted from our servers after encoding is complete. Additionally, we can usually return non-disclosure agreements, if required, quickly and without delay.