Get the Basics Right

By Mark Roberti

CEOs want to invest in transformation technologies, but they need to get the basics fixed first.


Last week, I came across a report from ServiceChannel titled “The REAL Reasons Shoppers Aren’t Returning to Your Stores: The State of Brick and Mortar Retail Report.” It contains this statement:

“Shoppers return to stores when the basic amenities they need – the ability to touch, try on, and take home purchases immediately – are working. Brick-and-mortar stores are often unshoppable – two out of five shoppers were met with empty shelves and had trouble with disorganized inventory.”

Thank you. Thank you. I have been saying this for years. The biggest reason people shop online is that when they go to stores, they don’t find what they came in for. You can have all the fancy experiential technology you want in a store, but if you don’t have what a customer wants, he or she won’t come back. Of course, this report, like many others, doesn’t tell retailers how to raise their inventory accuracy, make sure they replenish items on shelves and improve store execution. The way you do that is with RFID.

It’s not just in retail, either. Manufacturers struggle with the basics, too. Many struggle to manage “first-in, first out” inventories. Manufacturing lines are often slowed down because parts are not at the line when they are needed. And tools go missing. These are basic executional issues that RFID can solve. Any company that has large numbers of physical items to manage struggles with the basics.

A senior executive at a consumer products firm told me years back that at any point in time, it had $1 billion in inventory that it couldn’t find. The products weren’t gone—the company simply couldn’t locate them. That meant the firm had $1 billion in cash tied up in inventory that was contributing nothing to the bottom line. There were costs associated with holding that inventory, and the inability to get the items to stores in a timely way meant sales were lost.

RFID helps companies fix the basics, improve fundamental execution issues and become more efficient. Sure, it can do a lot more than that, but this is a great place to start transforming your business.

Or maybe an artificial intelligence solution can solve your problems. Good luck with that.

Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal.