As a retailers stock moves quickly through the supply chain, inventory levels can fluctuate by the minute. Especially, if you have an omni-channel model where inventory can be pooled between your physical and online stores. Having up-to-date, accurate inventory tracking and purchasing processes ensures product availability across all channels for your customers while avoiding overstocks, keeping you ahead of your competitors. This is where an RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) stocktaking and inventory management solution can add significant value.
How does RFID work in retail?
A cut above the traditional barcode, RFID tags and handheld readers allow you to more accurately track and identify objects from a distance, at every step along the supply chain. RFID tags can be applied at the point of manufacture, and embedded into price stickers or hang tags. This provides item-level serialisation of all products and allows them to be tracked from production to the point of sale. Handheld RFID readers can be used in your storage and distribution centres to improve the speed and precision of receiving goods and to quickly and accurately allocate, and dispatch, orders to stores. Cyclical stocktakes can then be completed weekly in each of your stores - driving inventory accuracy to 99%+.
By using an RFID solution that can digitally transfer data to advanced Retail Management Software - such as the RAMP Loca.fi & Retail Express integration - you can automate traditionally manual data entry processes and ensure accurate inventory levels are captured and centralised. With Retail Express, you can then leverage powerful inventory optimisation and automated replenishment features to minimise understocks and overstocks and save hours of admin.
- RFID can identify and track objects from a distance, enabling retailers to track goods if the tags are in range of the reader – whether that’s at the pallet, case or retail shelf. Traditional barcodes are classified as ‘line of sight’ technology, meaning the scanner must see the barcode in order to read it.
- RFID tags can hold more data than the traditional barcode, enable more accurate information at every stage of the supply chain.
- RFID tags are often weatherproof, meaning they’re less susceptible to damage when products are being packed, shipped and received.
What competitive advantages does RFID provide to retailers?
An integrated RFID and Retail Management System such as the RAMP Loca.fi & Retail Express integration has several benefits:
Avoid understocks (lost sales) and overstocks (markdowns) - Harvard Business School found that 8% of all retail products are out of stock at any given time. The ability to count inventory fast, often, and accurately, centralise this data and then optimise inventory and purchasing processes, allows retailers to have a clear (real-time) understanding of what’s in stock. Retailers can maximise on-shelf-availability and prevent out-of-stock situations without risking overstocks that they need to markdown, thereby boosting sales and margin.
Facilitated omni-channel fulfilment - Retailers often use store inventory or reserve stock to fulfil online or marketplace orders and it can be hard to track the inventory across channels due to its changing nature. Warehouse inventory counting has an accuracy of approximately 99%, but in-store this drops to 65%. As a result, this leads to false customer promises, frustrated shoppers, and lost sales. When operating at an omni-channel level, having the right product in the right place and at the right time is crucial to growth. With real-time stock level updates, retailers can share more accurate and useful information with customers, offering a superior experience in-store, online, or across any other channel.
A reduction in shrinkage - Supply chain errors, shoplifting, and employee theft, are easier to spot and manage with end-to-end visibility and accurate monitoring from RFID. Interested in how an integrated RFID solution could deliver an unfair advantage for your retail business? Check out the RAMP Loca.fi & Retail Express integration or Contact Us today.
Author: Kevin Cohen, RAMP RFID