Keeping up with the fast-changing retail landscape using item-level RFID

Even before the global crisis struck, the retail industry has long been a tricky landscape to navigate. Due to increasing competition, higher overheads, and tighter profit lines, the sector has always been pushed to innovate or risk becoming redundant. For example, with the growth of the internet, many retailers began focusing their efforts on establishing an online presence. This was previously seen as a “nice to have” but eventually became a “need to have”.

As more customers began shopping online, this led brick and mortar stores to innovate how they could drive increased traffic to their outlets using their online platforms. This resulted in additional retailers developing more robust omnichannel strategies by delivering BOPIS  solutions.

The majority of innovations within retail have been fuelled by changing customer demands. Previously, consumers were more attentive to price and value in informing their purchasing decisions, but they have shifted their focus towards convenience and order fulfillment time in recent years. As we move forward, more retailers have also started to be mindful of their sustainability values due to the increasing number of ethical shoppers. In fact, Accenture Strategy’s Global Consumer Pulse Research found that all generations of consumers said that they care about how ethically a retailer acts. Once the world emerges from these challenging times, the retail sector will find itself permanently transformed as the pandemic accelerated the rate of change that was already underway in these areas.

A Post-Crisis Environment

As retailers across the world reacted to the global crisis, many were forced to close their doors. As a result, shoppers went online to purchase their essential and non-essential items at breakneck speed. Many items soon became out of stock, with added pressures put on retailers’ eCommerce platforms.

Now, with stores reopening and shoppers adjusting to the new normal, consumer spending habits are changing. Retailers saw a sudden surge of sales once non-essential businesses were able to reopen, showing significant signs of recovery. However, to fully bounce back, retailers need to take a reflective look at the industry as a whole and consider how they might need to reshape their operations and business models. What’s more, there is an increasing emphasis on how retailers keep their customers safe post-lockdown and regain their confidence to return to stores.

Ensuring an Accurate Inventory Management

As we move into a new era of retailing, the industry needs to prepare to respond to sudden shifts in consumer behavior. A significant challenge for retailers is managing their inventory to know with certainty what products they have available for sale and where they are in their enterprise. As a result, we’ve seen more retailers turning to RFID technology to boost their retail inventory efficiency and provide an accuracy level of up to 98%.

Item-level RFID inventory management solutions, such as SML’s enterprise-class Clarity® RFID software application suite, can give retailers an advantage over competitors by providing better insight into their product availability. What’s more, by implementing the technology before restrictions are lifted, retailers can leverage the technology to capture immediate sales and create long-term relationships with customers who are trying omnichannel offerings at an increased rate.

Additionally, RFID can significantly reduce the amount of time spent by staff manually doing stock checks which are labor intensive and often inaccurate. As a result, retailers can eliminate these mistakes and ensure employees are able to focus on customer facing activities to drive sales and differentiate themselves from competitors who are stuck in outdated operational practices.

As the world continues to work towards the “new normal”, it is more important than ever for retailers to consider what the post-crisis landscape will become and prepare for ongoing changing customer habits. Implementing technology that allows them to track their inventory accurately and efficiently across multiple platforms before lockdown is lifted will provide increased profitability in the immediate to help emerge from the pandemic and the potential for increased market share in the future.

For more information on how Item-level RFID can enable you to prepare for a post-crisis environment, contact SML at [email protected].