GS1 Australia account director - retail Sean Sloan discusses the power of RFID technology.
The retail landscape is changing so rapidly that many companies are facing choices around how they stay relevant in the new age of the empowered consumer.
Some business choices seem obvious and possibly easy, whilst others a little more challenging and will require gradual implementation over a number of years.
It is against this background that the old retail model of ‘predict, make, sell and mark down’ is being repeatedly questioned.
Consumers are now armed with devices enabling them to rapidly switch between retailers based on what data is presented to them. Is it available now? Can I see the stock on hand? Is it accurate if they say there’s only one left? Are returns free? And so on.
Like the barcode that was developed over 40 years ago, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) was designed to be an enabler and is now considered a mature technology.
No other technology developed gives a retailer real-time visibility of inventory across an entire supply chain or inside a retail store.
This newfound visibility is now supporting an ever-increasing number of use cases, and when combined with complementary technology like Blockchain, Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) or Near Field Communication (NFC), the results are amazing.
From increased stockturns to better foot traffic and increased dwell times in fitting rooms, RFID continues to support an array of valuable operational processes including many marketing ones.
One of the fantastic side benefits of implementing digitised inventory is the excitement in the store by team members who can see immediate improvements to what they do every day.
The ability to find that last pair of shoes, or that misplaced item and be able to put it in the hands of the customer inside a few minutes, is empowering.
Providing store staff with the tools to succeed and the training to support the transformation is crucial to the success of any implementation. Sales staff are finding adoption fast and easy.
The implementation of RFID related processes in any retail chain will support a much more efficient store, from daily cycle counts to stock receipts or a faster checkout, and anyone can pick this up quickly.
When fulfilling online orders for delivery or click and collect, providing 98% inventory accuracy direct to the consumers hands has been proven to drive sales.
Combine this with the ability to search on items ‘near me’ and conversion rates are significantly higher, driving an increase in foot traffic to the store.
In the world of loss prevention and replenishment, retail theft can throw out stock file accuracy very quickly and impact sales over many weeks.
Even with regular cycle counting, it is easy to miss an area or item prone to theft for a period.
The cumulative impact on sales can be quite dramatic when analysed carefully but where RFID has been implemented, that impact is quickly negated and new stock ordered, minimising the loss.
Whilst the technology in this use case has not prevented anything at all, for high volume lines, it has enabled rapid sales recovery where otherwise it may have been missed.
With further analysis, it can also assist in pinpointing the time and location of the theft to identify the culprit.
For current CIO’s, COO’s and CTO’s, the constant crush of ‘urgent’ projects tends to be an overwhelming mountain often never climbed.
So why are so many companies finally beginning to realise the benefits of digitising their inventory?
The answer is simple; the tables have been turned forever and the consumer now demands more accurate information than ever before.
As more and more global retailers land in Australia equipped with years of experience in dealing with RFID technology, consider if they have a lower cost to serve and how that impacts your competitiveness.
It is time to give the consumer exactly what they need – an experience driven by good quality data; and your business the efficiency it requires to stay ahead.
For further information, go to www.rfidcoalition.org for a host of resources that will assist as you start your journey.