One of the biggest challenges retailers face is being able to drill down into the detail of why a particular item may not be selling in the quantities anticipated: is it just not resonating with customers? Are there design or pricing flaws?
It may well be that the product simply isn’t destined to be a big hitter, or it may be that, somewhere in the supply chain – anywhere from the first few miles to the last few meters – something has gone wrong.
Without RFID, the last leg of the journey – from the storeroom to the shop front – has been next to impossible to keep track of. End-of-season physical stock takes can give shop-owners an understanding of how well items have been selling over the past few months, but they can’t give them the day-to-day oversight they need to make sure the shop floor is continuously well stocked when it matters most.
Developments in RFID technology have given retailers a number of options for improving stock visibility. Fundamentally, RFID has made it easy to run inventories for both the storeroom and the shop front. Retailers have the option of using ‘replenishment gates’ – fixed readers that track the movement of goods between the backroom and the sales areas – or equipping staff with portable readers in order to track items across the premises.
In smaller stores, more and more retailers are now using handheld readers that can carry out inventory counts at a rate of 20,000 items-per-hour, counting the stock in both the storage and the sales areas. This way, employees are always armed with up-to-date, highly accurate data on what needs to be replenished on the shop front, including the sizes, models and colours that are selling most rapidly.
Extensive KPI campaigns have been carried out on the sales impact of employing RFID to improve front-of-house stock replenishment. These studies have shown a consistent sales leap of around 5-10%, with some types of product experiencing an even greater boost as a result of this improved visibility. The latest generation of RFID-enabled solutions goes even deeper into the detail of a retailers’ sales figures, linking sales numbers to certain high- and low-traffic areas in the shopfront. Armed with this data, retailers are now able to closely monitor and replenish certain areas of the shop that they would expect to generate higher sales – e.g. entrances and windows – as well as keeping an eye on whether sales figures for these areas are meeting expectations.
In this use-case, RFID offers a route to a more proactive stock replenishment approach, and an even more strategic understanding of store design and product placement.