When non-essential shops closed at the start of 2020, millions of items sat on store shelves out of sight, away from customers. Unsurprisingly, e-commerce grew by the same amount during the first two months of the pandemic as it had in the previous five years. For retailers, this presented an opportunity to utilise stores as mini-fulfilment centres which vastly reduced the cost and time involved in the delivery of stock around the country, or even world. Capabilities that only the warehouse could once perform – including packing online orders – could be processed by associates within the store, using stock from the store shelves or stockroom.
This level of flexibility allows the retailer to decide whether to fulfill an order from the store, from the warehouse, or a dedicated click and collect site. And with 67% of omnichannel shoppers adding additional items to their shopping baskets when they know they can pick them up immediately, it makes sense to have this flexibility. With the correct use of inventory technology, this is a practice that can, and indeed should, happen for most retailers post-pandemic when all stores are open, and the retail industry returns to normal.
The key to ensuring the smooth operation of using active stores as mini-fulfilment centres and omnichannel services such as BOPIS is inventory accuracy – something that can be drastically improved by taking advantage of item-level RFID technology. Companies utilizing RFID technology find that their level of inventory accuracy improves dramatically, typically moving from somewhere in the region of 65%-75% to 93%-99%. While it offers an abundance of benefits, in its simplest form, RFID technology helps retailers to gain full visibility and traceability of all stock across their entire supply chain and store portfolio.