What Does it Take to Deploy RFID in the Retail Supply Chain?

rfid inventory management

Nowadays with “Click and Collect” online purchasing, inventory management is one of the biggest variables when it comes to running an efficient retail operation. Poor inventory management can lead to wasted employee time, increased shrink, restricted sales and of course, unhappy customers. Fortunately, SML’s Clarity® RFID inventory management solution enables inventory accountability at every step of the retail supply chain, increasing inventory accuracy to over 98%, reducing shrink by up to 50 percent, and cutting out-of-stocks by up to 70 percent. Our system allows you to follow items through their entire life cycle, from the factory to the sales floor and everywhere in between, while also driving accurate and targeted inventory management tasks to create value.

But what does it take to deploy this system? The total solution involves implementing Clarity® software, best-in-breed RFID hardware and RFID-encoded tags and labels into your existing business structure. SML will work with you to design a custom deployment plan that meets your company’s unique needs. Typically, this plan will involve a series of phases.

Phases of Deployment

SML can take a retailer with no RFID inventory management system at all and get a pilot up-and-running in just a few steps. In general, the steps involve providing RFID tags for merchandise at the factory, enabling the system throughout all distribution centers, and implementing RFID in-store. These steps apply to the complete spectrum of retailers – those with 50 stores and those with 1000 stores. RFID deployment is also not limited to geography, as SML is currently supporting retail solution deployments in 22 countries and has RFID service bureaus in 17 countries.

Step 1: Proof of Concept (POC) or Pilot

The SML team will work with the customer on four major components of the POC or Pilot to ensure success: tagging strategy and format, implementation strategy (including integration with customer systems), training/go-live/support, and finally business case validation. POCs and Pilots are often started in less than 60 days and last anywhere from 60 days to 180 days. SML provides a focused team on each pilot to ensure its successful implementation and support.

Step 2: Rollout Implementation Strategy and Business Case Creation

The SML team will consult with the retailer to determine what processes, technology footprint and deployment model best supports the desired ROI. This includes detailed rollout plans, technical integration strategy and tagging strategy documentation.

Step 3: Solution Rollout

SML has over 1,000 stores currently rolled out and has vast experience in various rollout strategies. These include SML being responsible for the complete rollout with the retailer’s team being more in the background, to SML deploying the first few stores and the retailer’s team performing the system rollout with SML supporting. What is consistent across all of our deployments is that customers find we simplify the deployment for them by taking on and executing so many of the tasks needed to get live and create value. In addition, we work closely with our customers during this step to “on-board” them and their factories for RFID tagging. SML has a large global account team that specializes in working with factories to make the transition to RFID simple and straight forward.

Step 4: Ongoing Support

After the deployment, the SML offering continues by supporting deployments and tagging programs around the world. SML will provide local support and SLA based services to make sure that we are doing everything we can to have your RFID project operate smoothly around-the-clock.

SML’s technology is the impetus for the retail and apparel industries’ new era of inventory management, making your entire supply chain more efficient and giving you a huge competitive advantage. Contact us to learn more about what it would take to deploy our RFID inventory management system for your unique business case.

Curious about how retail is changing with RFID? See it in action for yourself in London on October 25th and 26thClick here to learn more and to register for the event.