Operational Change Driven by RFID and QR Technologies

Published: February 5, 2024

Retailers today operate in an increasingly demanding environment, with socio-economic, political, environmental, and other factors all impacting profitability. As well as this, high inflation rates have taken their toll on customers, resulting in shoppers being more likely to search for value and shop at competitors in favor of cheaper alternatives.

With a wide range of e-commerce and in-store options available, shoppers are less committed to a single brand, and making the switch has never been easier.

With the rise of AI taking the world by storm, technologies such as Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and QR codes can be overlooked by retailers, but both are foundational technologies to drive operational change throughout the retail supply chain and to the customer. With a variety of applications, RFID and QR codes can be used to improve efficiency, accuracy, traceability, and automation in a variety of business processes.

Leveraging RFID

 Inaccurate stock counts can lead to significant challenges for retailers beyond poor inventory management. With limited inventory visibility, retailers are more likely to either understock or overstock items. As a result, retailers’ expenditures can significantly increase due to the costs of manufacturing, transporting, and storing products.

Meanwhile, understocking items may lead to a loss of sales opportunities. However, with RFID technology in place, retailers can track the movement of goods throughout the supply chain, and gain accurate knowledge of existing stock levels. This enables retailers to more easily avoid bloat and in turn, transportation and storage costs are optimized.

Manual stock counts are inaccurate and error-prone, meaning retailers are unable to provide accurate and up-to-date information about stock availability. However, item-level RFID technology ensures inventory levels are updated in near real-time, meaning brands can provide reliable information about what products are in stock to effectively fulfill orders.

As less time is spent counting inventory, staff can spend more time assisting customers in-store providing an improved customer experience. This can ultimately contribute to significant business growth and development.

Personalized Customer Experiences

QR codes are used in several ways to help retailers gain a competitive advantage and are widely used on a variety of labels and packaging. From a simple scan of a QR code, customers are taken to a digital experience, and key information about a product such as its size, dimensions, and materials is revealed.

By acquiring this knowledge, customers are able to make faster, better-informed buying decisions as they have all the information they need to make a purchase at their fingertips.

Elsewhere, QR codes can be used by retailers to connect with customers on a deeper level. By scanning a QR code, customers can be directed to innovative marketing and advertising efforts, such as discounts and easy browsing of items. This improves customer engagement as customers are provided with a more immersive and fun experience. Through the use of QR codes, retailers can unlock a new channel for customers to engage with and customers can personally interact with a brand, improving the customer experience altogether.

Improved Data Collection

By combining the adoption of both RFID and QR technology, retailers can take their operations to another level through enhanced data collection. With QR codes on packaging, customers can leave reviews on their shopping experience almost instantaneously – no matter where they’re located. Meanwhile, RFID technology enhances inventory accuracy and retailers gain reliable information on stock availability.

By gathering the data collected by these technologies, retailers can gain valuable insights such as merchandizing performance, regional trends, and valuable customer feedback. With this information, brands can more accurately predict and respond to customer behavior by balancing inventory levels to ensure they can effectively fulfill orders or improve the customer experience.

As a result, retailers can optimize existing processes and unlock new opportunities for profitability.

Unlocking Business Growth

 The retail landscape is becoming increasingly competitive. To provide an unparalleled customer experience, retailers must embrace the adoption of RFID technology and QR codes in their day-to-day operations. With these technologies in place, they can optimize costs, enhance efficiency, and deliver an improved shopping experience.

However, using these tools in conjunction with each other can maximize business growth and development as retailers gain valuable insights to improve their strategic decision-making.

Photo courtesy of SML

Dean Frew is President of RFID Solutions Division at SML Group.