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The Rise of RFID in Retail: blog from Benedict Schofield, Marketing Officer at Retail Assist.
RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) already plays a significant role in retail, we’ve all seen a store associate remove an RFID security tag from an item of clothing at the point of sale, but there is potential for a lot more than just loss prevention using this technology.
The price of RFID tags has dropped significantly in recent years, opening the doors for big retail brands to experiment integrating its use with their omnichannel supply chains.
An immediate benefit to many retailers has been access to superior stock accuracy; this is thanks to the ease in which stock taking can take place. Centrally located RFID readers, such as the one we saw at RBTE last year can now do an entire stock take without the need for store associates to individually scan every bar code.
Stocktaking could then be performed much more frequently since the process is significantly sped up, thus visibility of stock in the supply chain is as accurate as possible.
This quickly resolved an issue that was starting to arise, where retailers were inflating their in-store stock by 10-20% in anticipation of omnichannel orders. Now with greater accuracy, those retailers don’t need such a large buffer to prevent out-of-stocks, increasing profitability and reducing the possibility of markdowns.
River Island found that they could go from doing 1-2 full stock takes a year to doing them weekly; their level of stock accuracy has risen from approximately 70% to 98% (Raconteur).
The store associates are now able to spend much less time in the stock room and spend more time on improving the customer experience.
RFID readers are able to detect when a RFID tag is moving. The technology allows a retailer to see if a product has been interacted with, perhaps by being picked up, this could then prompt a nearby screen to display relevant product information, enriching the experience of the customer.
With RFID comes an enormous potential for data collection. Retailers will soon be able to track the journey of their products within their stores, seeing when products leave the shelves, enter the changing rooms, and are returned to the shelf could be invaluable information.
Although raising questions of ethics, retailers would even be able to see when a customer returns to their store if they are wearing that item of clothing. This combined with other upcoming technology such as smart cameras, could make for a very powerful tool.
RFID is making advancements across the whole retail sector; RFID tags are small enough to be stuck to consumable items such as soft drinks and other food items. This opens the door to speeding up the checkout process significantly. Now an entire basket of items can be scanned at once, without the need for a store associate or customer to individually scan every product.
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