Home Internet of Things Aerospace Apparel Energy Defense Health Care Logistics Manufacturing Retail

Access This Premium Content

Options To Access This Article:

What Subscribers Are Saying

  • "Probably the best investment I've ever made."
    Steve Meizlish, President & CEO, MeizCorp Services, Inc.
  • "I have found that RFID Journal provides an objective viewpoint of RFID. It you are looking for a resource that provides insights as to the application and implications of deploying RFID, RFID Journal will meet your needs, It gives you a broad perspective of RFID, beyond the retail supply chain."
    Mike O'Shea, Director of Corporate AutoID/RFID Strategies & Technologies, Kimberly-Clark Corp.
  • "No other source provides the consistent value-added insight that Mark Robert and his staff do. In a world dominated by press release after press release, RFID Journal is developing as the one place to go to make the most sense out of the present and future of RFID in commerce."
    Bob Hurley, Project Leader for RFID, Bayer HealthCare's Consumer Care Division
  • "RFID Journal is the one go-to source for information on the latest in RFID technology."
    Bruce Keim, Director, Hewlett-Packard
  • "RFID Journal is the only source I need to keep up to the minute with the happenings in the RFID world."
    Blair Hawley, VP of Supply Chain, Remington Products Company

Omnichannel Retailing

You can't do it without RFID.
By Bill Hardgrave
Dec 01, 2012—"Anywhere, anytime, any product" is the mantra of omnichannel retailing, and retailers of all types are clamoring to make it happen. The idea is simple: Customers should have a consistent and seamless experience whether they're shopping in a store, on a mobile device, on a home computer or via a catalog. Many view omnichannel retail solely from the customer's standpoint and believe it starts with the customer's interface. An Apple iPhone application, for example, lets you buy an item on your way to the store and have it waiting when you arrive.

But omnichannel retailing starts with operations—in particular, those that deliver real-time, accurate inventory data efficiently and cost-effectively. If you don't know what you have, where you have it and when you have it, the great mobile or online app you created for your customers is worthless. And, you only get one chance. If your customer uses the app to buy a product only to find out the store doesn't have the item in stock—although the app told her it was available—she will take her business to another retailer that can execute omnichannel shopping successfully.

To create an "anywhere, anytime, any product" experience—and be able to offer same-day delivery of certain items within specific geographic regions, as some retailers are starting to do—retailers must know what they have in the store, the distribution center and the supply chain. But as I stated in my previous column, Tracking Your Competitors, the industry average for in-store inventory accuracy among U.S. retailers is roughly 60 percent. I also explained why RFID technology is the only efficient way to achieve in-store inventory accuracy. The case for managing inventory with RFID is even stronger when you extend it beyond the store, to the need for visibility in DCs and the supply chain.

To do omnichannel retailing without RFID, retailers must spend lots of money to achieve near-perfect inventory accuracy, which typically involves increasing labor resources. Or, they must have plenty of product on hand, which means incurring substantial inventory carrying costs. Either way, margins erode as the cost of operations goes up and, eventually, the retailers must increase prices, accept lower margins or abandon the omnichannel option.

RFID is essential for any successful omni­channel retailing effort, so a retailer knows what it has and where, at any given point in time. But don't take my word for it. Macy's, an icon of U.S. retailing, is aggressively adopting RFID. Speaking to reporters about the company's RFID adoption plans, Tom Cole, chief administrative officer for Macy's , offered this: "RFID is a tool to better serve customers and drive sales by ensuring we have the right product in the right place at the right time for our in-store and omnichannel shoppers."

Need I say more?

Bill Hardgrave is the dean of Auburn University's College of Business and the founder of University of Arkansas' RFID Research Center. He will address RFID adoption and business case issues in this column. Send your questions to hardgrave@auburn.edu.
To continue reading this article, please log in or choose a purchase option.

Option 1: Become a Premium Member.

One-year subscription, unlimited access to Premium Content: $189

Gain access to all of our premium content and receive 10% off RFID Reports and RFID Events!

Option 2: Purchase access to this specific article.

This article contains 498 words and 1 page. Purchase Price: $19.99

Upgrade now, and you'll get immediate access to:

  • Case Studies

    Our in-dept case-study articles show you, step by step, how early adopters assessed the business case for an application, piloted it and rolled out the technology.

    Free Sample: How Cognizant Cut Costs by Deploying RFID to Track IT Assets

  • Best Practices

    The best way to avoid pitfalls is to know what best practices early adopters have already established. Our best practices have helped hundreds of companies do just that.

  • How-To Articles

    Don’t waste time trying to figure out how to RFID-enable a forklift, or deciding whether to use fixed or mobile readers. Our how-to articles provide practical advice and reliable answers to many implementation questions.

  • Features

    These informative articles focus on adoption issues, standards and other important trends in the RFID industry.

    Free Sample: Europe Is Rolling Out RFID

  • Magazine Articles

    All RFID Journal Premium Subscribers receive our bimonthly RFID Journal print magazine at no extra cost, and also have access to the complete online archive of magazine articles from past years.

Become a member today!

RFID Journal LIVE! RFID in Health Care LIVE! LatAm LIVE! Brasil LIVE! Europe RFID Connect Virtual Events RFID Journal Awards Webinars Presentations