RFID Journal LIVE! 2019: The key to RFID ROI is keeping it simple

From 2nd-4th April 2019, leaders and innovators from across the RFID industry for the industry’s largest annual conference – RFID Journal LIVE! 2019.

On the second day of the event,  SML’s CTO and Senior VP of RFID Solutions, Dean Frew, chaired a panel discussion that brought two leaders from retail together to discuss the benefits they have experienced since implementing RFID technology. Featuring Jack Nestell, Founding Partner, MyDyer and Johan Stenstrom, Supply Chain Developer, Stadium AB the panel brought to light a number of myths surrounding RFID within retail, inventory accuracy and how greater ROI can be achieved.

Inventory accuracy vs financial accuracy

The majority of retailers are under the impression that their inventory accuracy is adequate to maintain profitability; with many claiming to have their accuracy up to 98%. However, without implementing a technology to actually track this, these retailers remain in the dark on their true inventory accuracy.

This was highlighted by Johan Stenstrom who said that as a result of his investigation into Stadium’s own inventory accuracy, which he believed to be 98%, found that what they had achieved was a financial accuracy – whereby items sold vs those still in stock would even themselves out – creating an illusion that inventory management was accurate.

Source tagging doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated

A common misconception surrounding RFID in retail is that tagging items at the source of manufacturing can be time consumers and expensive. However, over the years, more and more retailers and those within the supply chain have realized that source tagging doesn’t need to be as intimidating as originally thought.

As Jack Nestell found, existing manufacturers that Mydyer already worked with experienced little disruption when changing from traditional tags to RFID tags. He highlighted that the manufacturers simply received an RFID tag from SML’s Service Bureau to replace to existing tags.

He commented: “There was that concern. It didn’t change the manufacturers, partners or manufacturing facilities’ processes because the tag is the tag. So when you go through the manufacturing process and then the trim process to apply the label it was pretty transparent. Whether I had our traditional barcoded tag with human readable on it, we just simply inserted an RFID. So in terms of time, money, costs and effort to have our manufacturing locations to apply that tag was minimal…. I think it was a bit of a myth of the challenge it would take to do that.”

Keeping it simple

As RFID retail technology has evolved, so have the ambitions of those retailers looking to utilize the technology. However, this is often a significant hurdle for the technology and those looking to generate quality ROI. As discussed in the panel, the key to RFID in retail is enabling the technology to prove itself, with enhancing inventory management, before implementing the technology in more creative ways such as RFID enabled mirrors and ceiling readers.

Johan Stenstrom said: “We need to keep the RFID implementation simple. It’s still going to be a big investment but we need to do it at the right pace and do it right. So, keep it simple would be the one piece of advice to get the foundation that’s working and then start building from that. If we tried to do everything and fail, perhaps the technology would not get the chance it deserves.”

Watch the full panel here.