The COVID-19 pandemic has had an untold impact on the retail industry and has propelled dramatic shifts in consumer behaviour. As the retail sector emerges from the ashes of the past two years, it is faced with a very different industry model. Today, e-commerce and digital strategies must co-exist with traditional bricks and mortar stores, meaning retailers must develop their omnichannel offering – that fully integrates online and offline – to survive.
At the heart of any omnichannel strategy is the ability to create a seamless experience for customers across all the sales channels, whether they’re accessed digitally, in person or both, whilst simultaneously also adapting to ever-changing consumer expectations. While a lot of retailers focus on sales and marketing, fulfilment, logistics, and operations are equally important steps in the omnichannel experience, and technology can offer retail solutions geared towards an open and transparent supply chain.
What is RFID and how it can benefit retail?
With omnichannel customers now representing one in three shopping journeys according to McKinsey and Company, ensuring inventory accuracy can significantly benefit sales and the overall customer experience. Technologies such as radio-frequency identification, or RFID, can help retailers restock more efficiently, while also providing the customer with a smoother experience.
RFID has been a gamechanger for retail, as it automatically identifies and tracks tags attached to items, delivering an easier and more accurate stock count, providing retailers with up-to-date stock visibility and traceability at item-level across their stores, warehouses and supply chains.
When it comes to online shopping, RFID-enabled inventory tracking can speed up picking, packing and delivery, as well as highlighting all available merchandise to the customer. It offers a more seamless connection between online and offline and allows access to a product at any point across the retail network, both in distribution centres but also in-store.
How RFID technology can enhance the customer experience
As well as utilising RFID for inventory processes, retailers can also boost the customer shopping experience by using the technology. RFID enables a faster and more accurate self-checkout process and can even facilitate “smart” fitting rooms, where shoppers can get customised information about other sizes and colours in stock.
RFID can also be used to enable Buy Online Pick-up In-Store (BOPIS), kerbside pick-up, and same-day home delivery services, which have all increased in popularity since the pandemic as customers buying habits continue to evolve.
How to develop your RFID strategy
Devices and software are the pillars of every RFID system, and Checkpoint's cloud-based solution, HALO uses RFID technology to track every piece of merchandise from the point of manufacture to the store. With this SKU-level visibility, retailers and brands can leverage every unit of their inventory, regardless of its location or how the customer is buying it.
Retailers can also view their RFID-enabled stock in real-time and at item-level, which in turn will improve inventory accuracy. Research by Professor Adrian Beck from the University of Leicester confirms this, suggesting inventory accuracy can rise from 65-75 percent to 93-99 per cent with RFID technology in place.
RFID can also provide enhanced customer insights, which can help boost sales by informing future strategies on everything from the location of the merchandise in-store to how specific products perform in different regions.
RFID in retail - revolutionising the inventory count
The Checkpoint RFID system can also revolutionise the process of counting inventory by using an RFID handheld and a smart device; store associates can scan shelves, hangers and displays and can typically obtain accurate data on live inventory within 30-45 minutes.
The speed at which RFID can accurately track stock levels and location also vastly reduces labour costs and time as there is no need for manual stock takes. In addition, with high inventory accuracy, brands and retailers can significantly grow their sales, on average by 1.5-5.5 percent, however, some retailers have seen an uplift as high as 10 percent.
Checkpoint Systems provides a full RFID solution portfolio, from tags and inlays to cloud-based software, encoding and tagging hardware. The company’s solutions are implemented in stores, distribution centres and factories throughout the world. The team is well-experienced in implementing this technology and is available to support the retail industry on all aspects of RFID implementation.
For more information on how RFID can support your business, contact the Checkpoint team via firstname.lastname@example.org.