- RFID is rapidly gaining implementation within the retail sector and is a key technology applied to aid business operations.
- RFID technology allows retailers to gain a greater view of their on-hand inventory with 93-99 percent inventory accuracy by scanning hundreds of items within seconds.
- Interactive fitting rooms increase consumer engagement by providing outfit and accessory suggestions, size availability, and color options.
by Dean Frew
With the new era of retail increasing shopper expectations, delivering a flawless in-store customer experience has never been more critical. Adopting item-level radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology ensures customer service is elevated to new levels in order to remain relevant within a crowded field of competitors.
RFID is rapidly gaining implementation within the retail sector and is a key technology applied to aid business operations by improving inventory management and stock visibility as the foundation of adoption. After optimizing the supply chain and offering vital inventory insights, RFID technology is also transforming the customer journey and enabling new ways of driving sales. The versatile solution increases inventory traceability to the item-level, and as a result, facilitates smart mirrors in fitting rooms, checkout-less shopping, social media integration, and indoor mapping through smartphones.
Transforming the POS
The most common area in-store that retailers focus on to improve customer engagement is at the Point of Sale (POS). Implementing RFID technology at the POS enables an automated checkout since brands are able to accurately identify each item in the checkout process, transforming it into a faster, more accurate, and smoother transaction.
The adoption of RFID technology also allows retailers to reduce the friction at checkout points. Decreasing the queue time for customers is one of the most important ways to gain high-quality customer service. RFID technology reduces queue time as RFID readers are able to identify all items simultaneously instead of requiring barcode scans of each item individually.
According to research by Talkative, a seamless customer journey is the most effective way to keep shoppers happy and loyal to your business. The research further indicates that consistently offering this kind of approach is also proven to attract new customers.
Enhanced Inventory Management
Research from a recent SML report shows that on average, staff spend 15 hours a week performing inventory-related tasks, taking time away from assisting customers in-store, and ultimately leading to shopper dissatisfaction. These physical inventory counts are not only labor-intensive, but are also often prone to errors.
RFID technology allows retailers to gain a greater view of their on-hand inventory with 93-99 percent inventory accuracy by scanning hundreds of items within seconds. With an accurate view of your merchandise that is maintained regularly, brands can ensure that their stock is fully replenished, reducing the risk of lost sales and customers opting to shop at a competitor instead. Consequently, staff who were previously tied up counting stock now have the time to assist customers in-store — enabling an enhanced shopping experience and driving sales.
The use of RFID technology helps business owners significantly on the sales floor and can also be leveraged in their supply chains. Furthermore, the SML report found that 43 percent of retailers believe enhanced stock level visibility would help them better serve customers and increase the overall customer experience.
According to the NRF National Retail Study 2018, inventory shrinkage costs the U.S. retail industry $47 billion in 2017. RFID technology can provide a technological solution to retailers by supplying knowledge of where the item went missing, allowing them to mitigate the impact of shrinkage by adjusting inventory levels to replace missing or out of stock items. This will drive additional sales and offset the cost of lost inventory in the process.
Smart Fitting Rooms
Customers’ desire for information and personalization is transforming the way retailers deliver a seamless in-store customer experience. Enabled by RFID technology, interactive fitting rooms increase consumer engagement by providing outfit and accessory suggestions, size availability, and color options.
Not only do smart fitting rooms enhance the in-store customer experience, but brands also gain insights into shopper expectations. With RFID technology, retailers obtain information about what items are being brought into dressing rooms to try on and how often those items are converted into sales. Consequently, this allows business owners to make smarter buying decisions, as well as reduce the accumulation of outdated stock.
Shoppers are starting to demand this advanced generation of services and the entire retail sector is adapting rapidly. Between 2018 and 2020, European retailers have increased their use of RFID tagging technologies from 27-77 percent, according to a 2022 Statista Study.
The Importance of RFID
The tides are turning for the modern retail landscape as RFID is becoming routine for retailers worldwide. This technology empowers brands like never before and provides an elevated shopping experience for their customers. The combination of advanced store operations and an improved customer experience are leading to sales growth and increased profitability for business owners who have started their RFID implementation journey.
Dean Frew is the CTO & SVP of RFID Solutions at SML Group.