Since the 1970s, automatic identification (auto-ID) technologies have been evolving to revolutionise the way people live and work. Previous research has not addressed auto-ID technological innovation as a field of study, despite its growing importance on consumer, business and government electronic commerce (EC) applications. This paper is specifically concerned with five auto-ID technologies, bar codes, magnetic-stripe card, smart card, biometrics and radiofrequency identification (RF/ID) tags and transponders. Using multiple embedded case studies and applying the fundamental concepts of the systems of innovation (SI) approach, the overall aim is to understand the selection environment of the auto-ID industry. The results show that industry competition encourages the coexistence of numerous auto-ID technologies, dispelling the idea that one superior technology will make all others obsolete. This can be seen by the trends of migration, integration and convergence that are occurring in auto-ID innovation today. The significance of the study rests in its practical contributions. Stakeholders will benefit by becoming more aware of the opportunities in the market for the recombination of one or more auto-ID techniques. Additionally, suppliers of auto-ID system components will understand the new paradigm where various auto-ID firms can share in the same trajectory successfully.