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Promise Lies in BOPIS for Retailers With RFID

The president of IHL Services describes the advantages of using a 'buy online, pick up in store' model, with RFID and related technologies, to ensure inventory visibility.
By Claire Swedberg
Jul 12, 2019

Opportunities for retailers are looking rosier than news reports might be indicating, according to Greg Buzek, the president of retail research company IHL Services. When he spoke at last month's RFID Journal LIVE! Retail conference, co-located with RetailX in Chicago, Buzek had a message for retailers. Those that are moving ahead of the pack, he said, are the ones that have invested in technology, including RFID. They're the ones that have understood the importance of "buy online, pick up in store" (BOPIS) models, and that know how to provide a good experience for customers that use this buying method.

RFID can't solve all inventory problems alone, Buzek explained, but those retailers that have employed RFID are gaining significant benefits. "What it comes down to is embracing technology to remain competitive, or fall far behind," he said. The technologies being adopted, he added, also include artificial intelligence, computer vision and mobile marketing solutions.

General retail market statistics can be misleading, Buzek noted, both during his LIVE! Retail session and in a subsequent phone interview. He cited the fear factor that is worrying some in the retail space, that stores are in trouble. "I'm always amazed by the disconnect between what we see in the news and what we see in real life," he said, adding that while reports with doomsday statistics receive news coverage, they do not tell the whole story.

"Retail news has offered us a 'sky is falling' view," Buzek explains. "'Retail apocalypse' is a term that gets used today," he adds, referring to one report which warned that 75,000 more stores are predicted to close by 2026. There is a flaw in these statistics, he argues, since data based on BOPIS orders are being omitted from brick-and-mortar store sales numbers, and this is the fastest growing area of e-commerce.

The future looks bright for retailers able to adopt BOPIS-based sales, according to IHL's research. If a sale is placed online, it still often requires a physical store where the product can then be collected—and that, he said, offers retailers an opportunity, but only if they have good inventory accuracy. Instead, the statistics in one report Buzek referenced assume all ecommerce growth is for delivery directly to a customer, not BOPIS or "click and collect."

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