RFID is your secret weapon in the fight for better retail sustainability. With almost a third of garments going unsold every season and retail’s global emissions creeping ever higher, the time to change is now.
Our experts reveal the extent of overstocking problems, how they cause retail waste, and the big three RFID uses that can help propel your sustainability initiatives forward.
What is the root cause of overstocking?
Managing stock levels is a dark art. You may as well try to predict the weather! Overstocking is so easily done, even with predictive models and measures in place. In many cases, the main culprit is poor inventory management. When retailers don't have accurate stock volumes or a clear picture of stock movement, it's all too easy to over-order or run out of certain products.
Supply chain reliability also has a huge part to play. If retailers aren't sure when they'll be able to get their mitts on another shipment, they'll be inclined to over-order to make sure they have what they need. Let's not forget that 21–42% of customers will go to a competitor for a product if you don’t have it (and no one wants that).
Overstocking and over-ordering can also be caused by a lack of good data. When you don't have a firm grasp on customer demand and sales trends, you can easily end up ordering too much of one thing and not enough of another. It's also perilously easy to misinterpret seasonal demand when you don't have reliable historical data.
How can overstocking affect sustainability?
Globally, 92 million tons of textile waste is produced every year, making it one of the most wasteful industries on the planet. Over-ordering and overstocking increase demand for garment production, putting more strain on natural resources and increasing greenhouse gas emissions. More shipments mean more transport emissions, which adds to your carbon footprint. The picture looks bleak, but the good news is that there's hope. And it comes in the form of RFID.
How RFID can help you do your bit to save the planet
1. Manage demand like a pro
RFID labels store and maintain information at a unique item level. With a single scan, you can unearth each item’s provenance, purchase history, materials, and more. When each item in each retail touchpoint generates this much rich data, it's super easy for retailers to see which items, sizes, colors, and styles are best sellers.
Solid RFID data is a fab foundation for building models to predict seasonal demand, too. And if that wasn't awesome enough, RFID could also reveal sales trends for each brick-and-mortar store or digital touchpoint. With insights like that under your belt, you'd be able to allocate stock more effectively from the very beginning, maximizing sales and preventing dead stock.
2. Put a stop to excessive shipping
Overstocking and understocking involve extra shipping, which ramps up your carbon emissions and knocks your sustainability targets off course. Striking a balance is incredibly difficult, and although RFID technology isn’t a magic bullet, it can help you move closer to your goals.
Using RFID to assess your existing inventory and build more accurate ordering forecast models is a rock-solid way to cut those shipments down without causing stockouts or hurting revenue.
You can also slash global emissions by working with a labeling partner with locations close to needlepoint. For example, here at Checkpoint, we have production locations in 11 countries to save our clients from shipping their materials worldwide. It just makes good sense!
Read: The environmental benefits of sourcing locally
3. Awesome inventory management means smarter ordering
One of the main RFID uses is inventory management. Superior inventory management, no less. Tagging every product with an RFID inlay at the source gives you a complete value chain for everything you retail, plus an accurate picture of what you have and where. This level of epic inventory knowledge can help you avoid over-ordering and stop your vendors and suppliers from doing it, too.
RFID also helps with efficient stock movement. Imagine you’ve underordered in your Dallas location; if you know you’ve got excess stock knocking around in Des Moines, you can reallocate, make money, and prevent waste! If you’re using the ‘Just in Time’ model, you can store excess stock centrally, making it even easier to limit stock-outs across every touchpoint.
You'll have accurate volumes to forecast with, so you can plan like a pro and avoid last-minute panic ordering. No more guesswork and no more useless bulk orders that sit in storage, waiting to be destroyed.
RFID isn’t just brilliant at helping you ace ordering; its quick insights make replenishment faster, too. Your displays are well-stocked and compliant, so you’re maximizing return on what you already have without wasteful ordering. With further use-cases to bolster the uptake of circular economy practices, such as buy-back schemes and rental programs already being explored by brands to combat waste, it’s time that you began to explore the sustainability benefits of RFID.
Read: Unlocking the power of beautiful displays with RFID
Are you interested in learning more about how to prevent overstocking and over-ordering using RFID? Get in touch with our team! With decades of RFID experience and experimentation under our belts, we know the tech inside and out. If there's a solution to your problem, we'll be able to find it.