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It's RFID's Turn
Understanding this technology should be the retail sector's big bet for 2020.
Feb 09, 2020—
Radio frequency identification is one of those technologies that has been in evidence since its inception, and it is now gaining traction as one of the retail industry's biggest bets for this year. In the early 2000s, many companies viewed RFID deployments as an opportunity to improve operational efficiency by replacing conventional barcode scanning with readability using passive RFID readers and tags. But the high costs of labels made many such projects unfeasible, and the technology proved to be a passing trend for most.
Nearly two decades later, with the popularization of RFID tags and the closer look many have taken at the applications and benefits that this technology brings to retailers, RFID has become part of discussions in executive committees for deployment and rapid adoption across the board. RFID improves logistics and in-store processes, prevents sales disruptions, increases sales and boosts the customer experience, both inside and outside of stores.
• Sales breakdown: One of the main pains for retailers these days is the sales breakdown caused by inaccurate inventory and the consequent difficulty of knowing which specific items are missing at stores. Since retailers currently only take physical inventory counts once or twice a year, and since the lack of information about missing products is only realized after this activity is performed, RFID is a major ally in alleviating this problem, as it allows counts to be performed daily. This enables companies to more efficiently identify which sizes and items required replacement, thereby ensuring product availability in-store.
• Product availability at the point of sale: One example of how RFID has evolved in recent years is the ability to track the entire logistics chain, from manufacturing to in-store sales. If a product is tagged at a manufacturing site with an RFID tag, a retailer has more accurate data and can be responsive to receiving items at distribution centers and stores, dramatically reducing the time required for goods to be effectively available for sale. This reduction can dramatically improve retailer cash flow and sales planning, and it allows for customized store deliveries, depending on seasonality or region-specific demands.
• Theft prevention (internal and external): As technology enables an anti-theft solution integrated with a point-of-sale system, the resultant data visibility, coupled with integration with other technologies, can contribute to loss reduction and detect where in the production chain goods may be stolen. With data, control and product visibility in-store, retailers can design burglary-prevention strategies specific to each department within a store location, or at each step between production, distribution and store.
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