From optimising supply chains & providing key inventory insights, Radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology is now enhancing the customer experience and creating new methods of driving sales for retailers and supermarkets alike.
RFID has primarily been utilised by retailers to track retail assets, improving inventory control and minimising the risk of stock issues. RFID tracking solutions have also been proven to drive sales and reduce holding costs through optimising inventory purchases.
As the technology advances, retailers are now discovering entirely new benefits of RFID opportunities for their brick & mortar outlets that augment the customer experience.
Examples of RFID in modern retail
There are a lot of exciting concepts and developments that we currently experience RFID technology being used in physical stores that are changing the way consumers browse and shop for products and groceries.
Amazon Go is perhaps the most renowned example, and more outlets are popping up across the world year-on-year. Amazon Go’s RFID technology completely eradicates the point-of-sale process with an outlet that allows Amazon customers to add items to their shopping trolley and walk right out of the shop once they’re done, in turn, bypasses checkout queues and removes the POS stage completely.
A more familiar RFID customer experience can be found in the likes of Sainsbury’s and TESCO, where shoppers have the option to ‘scan as you shop’ for those that wish to experience a seamless checkout process. There is a physical aspect to this as supermarkets utilise barcode scanning technology which allows said consumers to scan each item, but we are likely to see something similar to Amazon Go’s model as very much commonplace within the next decade.
In clothing retailers, we see arguably more advanced RFID technology in the form of interactive changing room mirrors. Interactive experiences instore are crucial to enhancing the customer experience in modern day retail.
Smart mirrors recognise products via RFID tags and synchronise together with a tracking system to provide real-time product data direct to the consumer such as sizes and stock. Together with the integrated AR technology within the mirrors that allow consumers to try on clothing garments or make-up, this can totally revolutionise aspects of a customer’s retail experience.
If you’re partial to a Big-Mac, you may have noticed that the Fast-Food giant, McDonalds, uses an RFID system with their My McDonalds app. Through this, consumers can order on the device’s app to collect in-store, and once the consumer enters the store threshold, then their device is recognised and pinged to the kitchen where their food is then prepared.
This is a more recent example of RFID technology where next-gen sensors and GPS technology combine. Other sensory data uses include including reading temperatures, detecting movement and pinning locations – these are far more widespread utilisations of the technology that consumers possess in their home and daily lives.
The benefits of RFID & inventory management
According to a report from SML staff spend a significant amount of time performing inventory-related tasks which deducts precious time away from assisting customers in-store which ultimately manifests consumer dissatisfaction.
Real-time tracking technology provides retailers with a comprehensive detail of their existing inventory and record substantially high inventory accuracy despite scanning hundreds, even thousands, of items.
Stock can be fully maintained and optimised in real-time, reducing the risk of low inventories, lost items, and ultimately the loss of sales and customers who would subsequently relocate to a competitor's store for items that have sold out.
Utilising RFID can provides a solution to retailers by supplying knowledge of where exactly on the sales journey the item went awol, in-turn mitigating the impact of shrinkage by adjusting inventory levels to effectively replace missing or out-of-stock items.
This will drive additional sales and offset the cost of lost inventory in the process.
Also, staff who were previously encumbered with stock counts will have more time to assist customers in-store which can be used to drive customer satisfaction.
Using RFID tech fundamentally helps retailers manage the sales floor and can be leveraged in their supply chains.
Why RFID is of critical importance to Retailers
In our modern retail landscape, RFID is becoming largely commonplace for retailers across the globe. The technology empowers not only retailers, but their consumers too, by providing a best-in-class shopping experience.
Technological instore innovations together with the subsequent enhanced customer experience are generating sales growth and increasing profitability for retailers who have implemented RFID into their business operations.
This tech empowers retailers to manage stock and inventory accuracy and provides their customers with a personalised, frictionless, and retail experience that modern consumers have come to expect.
Over the last couple of decades, RFID in retail has evidently received acclaim had a positive impact from retailers who implemented the tech in brick-and-mortar stores. With a proven record in optimising stock control and costs, it's also fast becoming a catalyst for digital instore innovation - one that will elevate the high-street into a hybrid-retail experience for consumers.