Insight, Opinion

The new age of RFID: Transforming retail and data inventory

In today’s market, the RFID landscape is coming of age. Solution providers have zeroed in on the application expertise while software vendors now provide field proven, retail-specific applications. Motivated by the development of industry standards, Major technology organisations such as Oracle, Intel, and Microsoft have begun to make significant investments, which places standard, interoperable RFID within the grasp of more users. Today, tags come in a variety of shapes and sizes, enabling tagging of any merchandise, product, size or application at a very low cost and high return on investment.

Vic Bageria, CEO, Xpandretail

With the significant performance development in RFID hardware has not only led to a leap in capability, but also drastically revolutionised read rates. In result, it has made previous untouchable applications more effective and economically appealing to users. Now, the market is beginning to flourish with new applications that are based on the higher utility of UHF Gen2 RFID Technology.

UHF Gen2 RFID Technology is providing retailers with new opportunities to reduce cost, boost consumer satisfaction and raise revenue. The new age of RFID enables organisations with access to more accurate and frequent inventory data. This allows both retailers and vendors to improve the product availability and cut back on inventory costs. Brand authentication technology enables a sophisticated and highly-effective method for safeguarding that a high-value product is the real thing and not a knock-off – protecting both brand and customer satisfaction. Promotional display deployment tracking ensures high- impact marketing and high ROI on marketing dollars. Asset tracking applications ensure efficient capital usage and accurate billing for pooled assets like pallets. In the end, RFID is leading to higher revenue and profits for retailer and vendor alike.

The use of RFID tags which are being used for in-store management is becoming one of the smartest investments a retailer can make. With increased shelf accuracy makes it easier for consumers to find what they want – so, in return they buy more – and new services, such as online orders with in-store pickup, which keep consumers coming back for more.

As we look deeper into the retail market, it is important to consider there are several types of retailers, store formats, product categories and operational models. Each with a combination of having a different use case which would make the most sense for them to implement RFID technology. It is safe to say, nearly a third of retailers are using RFID for both store fulfillment and also to allow staffing to check on product availability, location, price and quantity. This goes to show that RFID can also become an important component of an omnichannel programme.

The omnichannel landscape is becoming the one of the most promising areas of growth for retailers. For many, this would require implementing a strategy where they can treat all of their inventory as one giant pool. Allowing products to be readily available for confirming consumer’s orders from anywhere – online, in-store, via call centre. This deft supply chain management capability requires highly accurate inventory information to guarantee the reliability of the order-promising process. Improved inventory accuracy enables retailers to confidently provide them item stock availability to consumers on all platforms. Improved real time inventory accuracy, by item and location, is RFID’s prime contribution towards enabling a more effective omnichannel landscape.

A common trend which we are witnessing when RFID is successfully implemented the fast ROI. For many retailers, this is based on a focus on products with high mix complexity of merchandise such as size, color, style. Followed into intensive items in apparel such as footwear, cosmetics, sporting goods and fragrances. What these categories have in common is the need to keep many different variations on display. With RFID staff personnel’s will coordinate the proper products to be restocked and properly ready so when consumers walk into the store, they find exactly what they are looking for. The primary driver here is very tangible – sales uplift resulting from on floor availability.

RFID has come a long way in the last few years. Standards have been established. Pricing for systems and tags have dropped and RFID technology has become more dependable—read rates and ranges are much higher than they were, and technologies and techniques to deal with metals and liquids have been developed. Software applications that can be integrated into retailers’ IT infrastructure and that are user friendly at the store level are now available. Solution providers and systems integrators have much more experience with retail RFID and integrating to operational systems. There are many more experienced implementers who understand the pitfalls and how to avoid them. RFID solution providers have evolved to more of a complete solution approach, rather than requiring such heavy lifting component by component integration, engineering, and customisation.

But perhaps most important has been the end-users’ accumulation of expertise and deftness in understanding the different uses and the ability to derive a compelling ROI. They have realised that ultimately success is not about the technology, but understanding what to do with the new data, capabilities, and insights—what business and process changes can be made that have the most value for a retailer’s particular set of products and operating model.

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