Black Friday is a world shopping phenomenon that in the US last year raked in almost $9bn in revenue for retailers via online shopping alone.
Taking place this year on November 25, the cash bonanza is now a yearly event when shoppers expect to be able to scoop high-value bargains, particularly across electronic and digital goods. This means precision planning for retailers operating omnichannel sales strategies to ensure consistent availability both online and in-store across all the different SKUs they list – and on-shelf security to protect products from theft. At the best of times, it is estimated by leading brands that successful omnichannel requires inventory accuracy of over 90%, but on Black Friday, it is more critical than ever.
Know what you have
RFID technology offers retailers the perfect solution to coping with the unprecedented demands of Black Friday, the weekend that follows and Cyber Monday. By automatically identifying and tracking tags attached to merchandise, it affords retailers real-time stock visibility and traceability by SKU, throughout their supply chain – in warehouses, distribution centres and in-store.
Using RFID makes sense for retailers throughout the year but could be vital over the Black Friday weekend when the volume of shoppers looking for online and in-store bargains hits a peak. Ensuring optimum product availability will be crucial to drive sales and prevent any negative customer experiences that could drive shoppers to rival websites or stores.
Already, outside of the Black Friday rush, research suggests that 85% of younger shoppers would rather switch labels than wait for a favourite product to be in stock. And out-of-stocks were cited by more than 30% of shoppers in a global survey when they were asked what the most common barriers are to using click-and-collect services.
An omnichannel Black Friday
For bricks and mortar stores there’s nothing worse than availability issues on the busiest day of the year caused by stock languishing in the storeroom, misplaced items or products being delivered to the wrong outlet. Shoppers faced with empty shelves or racks on Black Friday will simply go to another retailer.
RFID also helps to prevent omnichannel issues by providing real-time replenishment alerts, accurate and regular stock updates, and item-level data, while identifying if those empty shelves can in fact be replenished from the stock room. It also facilitates shopper convenience, allowing retailers to offer services such as Buy Online, Pick-up In Store (BOPIS), curb side pick-up and same day home delivery.
RFID systems such as Checkpoint Systems’ RFID software portal – an Internet of Things (IoT) platform that allows retailers to track and trace every SKU at every stage of its supply-chain journey – works by capturing data events from dozens of RFID sensors across a retailer’s supply chain with recorded accuracy of up to 99%. This data is stored, processed, and analysed in near real-time to deliver targeted, actionable insights via the portal.
And using RFID handheld devices, store staff can scan shelves, hangers and displays to get accurate, real-time data on store inventory within 30-45 minutes. This helps retailers and brands to boost sales on average by 1.5-5.5%, while some retailers have seen sales increases of some 10%, simply by ensuring better availability.
Intelligent decisions through RFID technology
As sales ramp up in the countdown to Black Friday and on the day itself, retailers can use RFID to understand exactly what merchandise is where across their estate. This helps to make operations more agile not only to sales trends, but also changing shopper demand by redistributing stock to different stores in the portfolio based on sales data.
Of course, RFID tagging also offers secure Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS), allowing individual products to be tracked around the store – and importantly, if a shopper tries to leave without paying.
RFID tags can be read at a distance of up to 20 feet, via specific RFID-enabled overhead, underfloor or floor-standing antennas. These are capable of understanding if a product is near the door, moving along the doorway or through the door, meaning an alarm is only sounded in the case of a potential theft.
With so much riding on Black Friday – and in the days leading up to and immediately following – it’s vital for retailers to understand how to better control stock as part of an agile strategy that works across the business.
 Euromonitor International: Top 10 Global Consumer Trends 2021