Retailers constantly face the difficulty of keeping the right products available at the right shelves, and in the right quantities. In fact, a study by the Harvard Business School found that 8% of all retail products are out-of-stock at any given time, causing the top 100 retailers to lose an estimated $69 billion annually.
A tracking technology called Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID, is now addressing that problem.
With RFID technology, store employees use handheld scanners to remotely read RFID tags placed on individual products in store shelves, enabling them to record a variety of inventory information including product type, color, size, quantity and even location.
Already used by big name fashion retailers, RFID is demonstrating quantifiable results for early adopters. The real-time data generated by RFID tags streamlines inventory management and delivers substantial cost savings. But beyond accurate item-level inventory tracking, which eliminates up to 50 percent of out-of-stock problems,business owners are finding other innovative uses for RFID. Let’s look at some of them:
- Smart Fitting Rooms– Some retailers have equipped their fitting rooms with RFID scanners where it records each clothing being tried on by clients. They then cross-reference this information with what customers are actually buying using data from their point of sale system. The technology allows the retailers to determine which styles and colors are popular with customers and which ones aren’t selling.
- Interactive Product Displays– A number of retailers have embedded RFID antennas on their store shelves and display cases that detect when a customer picks up an item like a shoe or a watch. Because the system knows which specific product was picked up, it is able to automatically flash product specific information to the customer via strategically placed LED screens, enhancing the shopping experience.
- Streamlined Store Layout – With every product embedded with an RFID tag and a number of strategically placed remote RFID scanners, retailers can track an individual consumer’s movements throughout the store. This kind of information can help a retail store enhance the customer’s shopping experience by optimizing a store’s layout and product placements to match typical consumer behaviors.
- Enhanced Business Processes – Some retailers are now piloting the use of RFID technology with business and customer analytics. Using the wireless tracking technology,large amounts of data are collected and are stored in corporate databases. In addition to using the data gathered to update systems like supply chain management, logistics, inventory, etc., RFID data is likewise used in evaluating product flow in Business-to-Business and Business-to-Customer scenarios, boosting the level of granularity and accuracy.
- Integrated Shopping Experience– Another use retailers have for RFID technology is adoption of the richness of online shopping into the physical retail environment. When consumers shop online, they receive personalized recommendations based on the items they clicked. The same can be replicated with RFID tags. When a shopper picks up an RFID-tagged item from a shelf, curated offers can be shown to the customer via interactive kiosks. Self-checkout is also possible with RFID-enabled shopping baskets, completing the experience.
As evidenced by its widespread adoption in retail and other industries, RFID is quickly becoming a reliable component of supply chain and marketing infrastructures, driving substantial process transformation. As RFID technology becomes integrated into more objects we interact with everyday, expect to find a surge of novel upstream solutions and applications in other sectors, as well.
RFID is also used by businesses for identification and access control. To find out how you can integrate RFID to your business, call us at 1-800-667-1772.
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