In The News

July 26th, 2017

New Technology That Can Turn Brick & Mortar Stores Into Hi-Tech Stores Of The Future

Originally posted on Huffington Post.

With every product from toilet paper to diamond rings available online, brick and mortar retailers are struggling to keep customer attention. Physical stores are closing their doors at an alarming pace. JC Penney is poised to close up to 140 stores this year, and Moody’s Investors Service report warns that 18 other big retailers are at risk. A new era in retailing is needed.

To retain ever-demanding shoppers who have come to expect same-day delivery, dazzling customer service, and pinpoint targeted marketing that seeks to anticipate what the customer will want next, traditional stores need to step up their game. Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) can help traditional retailers make it happen.

An RFID device is a small tag or label programmed with information that retailers can attach to anything. Unlike a bar code, a passive retail RFID tag or label enables every item to have a serial number and can be scanned from a variety of distances, typically over 10 feet. The technology has been around for about 50 years, but only recently became affordable enough for common use. About 8% of retailers have fully deployed RFID and are experiencing measurable results and ROI.

You’ve seen a similar concept, electronic article surveillance (EAS) tags in action; those big, clunky tags that set off alarms when the sales clerk forgets to remove them from an expensive item. The new breed of retail RFID tags are small, cheap, disposable, and their functions are more complex.

I spoke to Dean Frew, CTO of SML Group, about ways brick and mortar retailers can use RFID technology to transform their stores. According to this industry veteran, the following are the three best ways.

1. Modern, Hi-Tech delivery options

“One example of this approach is offering customers with confidence the option to order online for in-store pickup, also known as ‘Click and Collect’, which has increased significantly among major retailers,” Frew explained. In fact, a recent survey of consumers found that more than 75 percent of respondents want to pick up online purchased in-store.

This is great news. Not only is the retailer able to solidify the omnichannel brand experience with ‘Click and Collect’, they can also capitalize on additional point of purchase (POP) sales while the customer is in the store.

In 2016, Walmart introduced grocery pickup. Customers order online and pick up their groceries the next day, without getting out of their car. Last month, Publix rolled up its sleeves, said “hold my beer,” and announced groceries delivered to your home in an hour. Place your order online and, in about the time it takes you to do your own shopping, your groceries show up at your door. Delivery is not free, but consumers will likely save money on impulse buys by avoiding psychological shopping tricks.

2. Accurate Real-time inventory management

Is there anything more frustrating than finding something online and dashing to the store, only to find the item you wanted sold out? “Managing inventory in real time is easier than you might think. RFID technology allows retailers to tag each item and track it from arrival to sale,” Frew added. “Handheld mobile powered RFID readers with inventory management software even make it easy for pickers to find items in the store, so they can find items ordered online for pickup.”

RFID tracking enables the store to improve their inventory management accuracy from as low as 50% to over 98% and keeping fast-moving items in stock, which means happier customers and more sales. The data generated by the system provides valuable insight into consumer buying habits and prevents overbuying based on guesswork.

3. Future shopping

In the near future, some stores will move to RFID checkout. Amazon, always on the cutting edge, is already beta-testing Amazon Go, stores with no checkout process. Shoppers download an app, and add items to a digital cart. As they leave the store, the RFID scanner totals all the items in the cart and charges the customer’s card on file.

“In theory, streamlined checkout will be faster and less frustrating for customers and staff alike,” Frew said. “Freed from spending shifts scanning products, floor staff can concentrate on customer service and stocking. If there’s one area where strictly retailers cannot hope to compete and customers value, it’s personal, hands-on service.”

Tomorrow’s retail success lies in creating an effective, omni-channel customer experience. Some customers still want to feel the fabric, squeeze the avocados, and try on the shoes, but lack of time limits “blind” shopping trips for busy consumers. Modern shoppers just don’t have the time to wander aimlessly around the mall, hoping to find the perfect birthday gift. It’s up to retailers find ways to make shopping convenient, fast, and painless, whether that means real-time inventory, same day delivery, or virtual try before you buy.

June 22nd, 2017

How fast are Retailers adopting RFID?

Whilst many retailers have in mind to test and implement RFID technology, the reality is most organisations are planted in the present and the targeted goal remains a complete contrast to current deployment rates.

This is where the statistical confusion of RFID adoption comes from. The statistics broadly adopted by retailers, take into account those in the planning stages of adopting RFID or in the initial trial stage but often in reality only have a few items that are tagged and in circulation within the supply chain. Compare this with the true figure of 4 to 8 percent, which only takes into account the retailers who are fully using the technology and have finished rolling it out.


June 7th, 2017

Why Omnichannel Could be the High Street’s Saviour

Despite seeing more and more retailers close their doors, some high street shops are fighting back and seeing the benefits of implementing the latest technology solutions as part of their ongoing strategies. According to a report by World Pay into the Role of Omni-Channel Payments in Driving Business Growth, omnichannel shoppers spend between 50-300% more than consumers who use just one channel to do their shopping. This is because they have the flexibility to start shopping on one device, move to another and have every option of delivery or pickup available to them. Ultimately, retailers are rewarded for utilising technology and providing customers with a seamless omnichannel experience.

Large retailers such as Tesco have started to see a significant boost in sales since catching onto this and are now working towards providing consumers with continuity when doing their shopping. Not only this but these retailers are having to continually meet the demands of the ever-growing appeal of a fast transaction process. Consumers have started to expect the ability to choose when and how they get their products, whether it be through 24-hour delivery or a click and collect option.


June 5th, 2017

A Seat at the Table

Despite its many talents, RFID has never really had a seat at the logistics table. But with an increasing desire for transparency, will the qualities of the technology finally be realised? Alex Leonards reports.

RFID is considered a mature technology by some, including Uwe Henning, chief executive of real-time analytics company Detego. Henning considers the technology to be well-developed and used in closed loop applications like asset tracking and automotive logistics.

But last year Detego, which specialises in providing transparency for the fashion industry, finally saw RFID finding its feet in the fashion retail supply chain. Detego’s growth is chiefly coming from this sector.


June 1st, 2017

Why Omni-Channel Could Save the High Street

Within the past decade, retailers have shifted their focus from physical stores to an “online-only” strategy. This is in part due to rising costs of owning and operating physical stores, the higher profit margins for online retailers and also the technological advances that have led to consumers being able to purchase goods from any device.


May 24th, 2017

Is Universal RFID Adoption a Done Deal in the Apparel Industry?

According to recent news, statistics and insight from industry experts about the apparel business and omnichannel retailing, universal RFID adoption is a done deal within the industry. Or is it?

Recent statistics reported by retail analysts, industry groups and retailers themselves state that RFID usage numbers range from 50 percent to 96 percent. However, these numbers are inaccurate and overly optimistic as the actual pace of RFID adoption is far slower and more methodical than previously thought.


May 17th, 2017

RFID Deployment is Overstated, Industry Exec Says

Many bullish assessments indicate US retailers, specifically soft goods retailers, are adopting item-level RFID in huge percentages, anywhere from 50-96%, depending on the source.

Not so, says RFID industry veteran Dean Frew, currently CTO and SVP RFID Solutions for SML Group, in a series of guest columns in trade magazines in recent weeks.


May 1st, 2017

How Fast is Retail Adopting RFID?

Originally posted on Apparel.

If recent news and information about the apparel business and omnichannel retailing are any indication, universal RFID adoption is an industry fait accompli.

Except when it isn’t. Not yet, anyway.

Statistics from retail reporters, industry groups and retailers themselves share RFID usage numbers ranging from 50 percent to 96 percent. In actuality, these numbers are inaccurate, exceedingly optimistic, and obscure the actual realistic pace of RFID adoption, which is far slower and more methodical.

While the aim among retailers to integrate RFID technology into their operations rates is near 100 percent, actual deployment of full RFID systems still hovers in the single digits.

Read Full Article


April 26th, 2017

Packaging is the Latest Trend in Cosmetics

For many years, retailers struggled to manage little items such as cosmetics, jewelry and fragrances because they are often too small to be tagged effectively. This challenge has led to billions in lost profit due to stolen or misplaced inventory. Recent advancements in RFID technology, however, are allowing organizations to implement smart packaging that not only reduces and eliminates inventory shrinkage but also provides a security system that is trackable throughout the entire supply chain.

Click here to read our recent article, Packaging is the Latest Trend in Cosmetics, in this month’s Packaging Gazette, to learn more about how RFID technology is helping retailers overcome the challenges of the past and accurately manage even their smallest products.