Watch the latest episode the Retail Corner Podcast, where Detego’s executive chairman, Kim Berknov, joins a panel of industry experts to discuss a growing trend in retail: the pop-up store. 

Digital retailers looking to expand into the brick-and-mortar sector are eyeing fairly new concept of Pop-Up Stores to lower implementation cost, test new markets and increase engagement with new customers.

In this panel discussion,  experts from the retail industry bring into the spotlight the value-added benefits, logistics, misconceptions and supported technology in creating pop-up stores.

 

You can listen to Retail Corner here, or watch below:

The Panelists:

Kim Berknov – Executive Chairman, DETEGO

Sampath Kannan – CEO, Tejas Software

Vince Cavasin – Head of Marketing, FenixCommerce

Vivek Raj – CEO, Digital Spaces Inc

Anil Varghese – CEO, Proxima360

Moderator:

Carlos Diaz – Director, Sales, Proxima360

Detego's Latest Retail Insights & News

Discover how RFID is changing retail for good. This eBook will guide you through the top 10 needs identified by retailers to ensure sustainable success in the modern environment. Explore the common challenges preventing retailers from achieving their goals and learn how applying smart RFID-based solutions delivers consistently good results.
The RFID Software Specialists Joins Network of Companies Certified to Help Businesses Implement GS1 Standards
Breaking down the success of RFID in fashion retail

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Discover how retail RFID is changing the industry for good. This eBook will guide you through the top 10 needs identified by retailers to ensure sustainable success in the modern environment. Explore the common challenges preventing retailers from achieving their goals and learn how applying smart RFID-based solutions delivers consistently good results.

What is in the eBook?

The retail industry is currently ruled by change. The digital age has seen a huge growth in competition from e-commerce and a rapid shift in consumer preferences. This shift has altered the industry greatly with modern ‘omnichannel’ customers demanding to shop where they want, how they want and when they want. Delivering such an experience is a challenge, one that requires brick-and-mortar retailers to change.

To compete in an increasingly digital environment, brands need the right supporting technology to establish full transparency between their shopping channels and offer consistently excellent service online and in-store. On top of this, the extreme competition within the industry and the subsequent pressure on retailer’s bottom lines means finding ways to reduce or shift costs and eliminate inefficiencies at scale is a priority – again, technology may provide the answers here.

Retailers then are faced with the challenge of providing a better experience to customers while scaling back and consolidating in order to stay financially viable, how do you achieve both at once without overstretching resources and risking multiple technology projects? Obviously, a focus on the specific problems that need solving is key but with the scale of these challenges, you need a transformation that affects the core of the business and isn’t putting lipstick on a pig.

In this regard, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is somewhat unique in the retail technology market, due to the sheer versatility of the technology and its ability to solve so many of retail’s most common needs. It is this scope of use cases that have seen RFID become increasingly prominent in the retail environment.   Whilst the basic principle of RFID, tagging inventory with its own unique radio signal, is deceptively simple, its uses and applications are incredibly broad.

In this eBook, we analyse the top 10 needs identified by retailers to ensure sustainable success in the modern environment. Within each of these needs, we identify the challenges often preventing retailers from achieving them, and how applying smart RFID-based solutions can deliver consistently good results.

Improving key metrics in stores

The ebook will teach you how RFID revolutionises daily processes like stocktakes and replenishment in stores. Learn how retailers are using the technology to deliver higher inventory accuracy in-stores (increasing from ~70 to 99%) and to ensure the right product is always available for customers to buy on the shop floor (known as increasing product availability). The eBook will also show you how retailers can achieve these results whilst actually lowering the labour intensity (and costs) of operational store processes like cycle counts and processing inbound shipments.

  • How retailers use RFID for quick and efficient stocktakes and cycle counts
  • Improving stock accuracy in stores
  • How smart solutions are being put to use for item-level replenishment, ensuring products and sizes are always available to be sold.
Results of RFID Retail

Delivering to customers with retail RFID

Find out how retailers use RFID to reliably deliver to their customers by removing common friction points as well as offering new services and shopping experiences. Common pain points eliminated by RFID include: customers being unable to find the right product,  staff not being available to help with requests and service due to lack of time for the customer, or unreliable stock information. On the other end of the spectrum, advanced RFID retailers can wow customers with new shopping experiences both in-store and online.

  • How stores can reduce common customer friction points
  • The relationship between RFID and effective omnichannel services
  • The advanced retail RFID solutions that improve the in-store customer experience like chatbots and smart fitting rooms.
RFID Omnichannel Retail

Optimising supply chains from source to store with automated processes

Learn how advanced RFID retailers have moved upstream to cover their entire supply chains, from stores to warehouses, distribution centres and even factories. The eBook covers how RFID is used to achieve complete supply chain visibility and what additional value this unlocks for retailers due to the advanced item-level data and analytics available.

  • How to achieve supply chain visibility with real-time info on the movement of products inside and across individual stores and distribution stages.
  • How RFID is used to aid logistics at distribution centres, including automated processes like exception handling and order picking.
  • What RFID means for retailer’s data and analytics capabilities, such as advanced supply chain traceability and new KPIs for stores and DC’s.
Retail Supply Chain

Protecting brands and products from theft, counterfeits and the grey market.

Finally, gain insight on how retailers deploy RFID solutions to protect their products, and their entire brand, from illicit activity including theft, counterfeit products and the grey/gray market. The eBook explains how retailers can use the technology to identify individual products and trace them across the supply chain, allowing them to identify where problems are occurring, and stop them at the source.

  • How RFID can be used to monitor and reduce shrinkage, including theft, both in stores and across the entire supply chain.
  • How brands are combatting counterfeit goods by tagging and tracing their products with RFID.
  • What the Grey Market means for retail and how several major brands use RFID traceability to locate and stop the source of grey market products.
The Sources of retail shrinkage

Watch the latest episode the Retail Corner Podcast, where Detego’s executive chairman, Kim Berknov, discusses RFID technology’s ongoing impact on the retail industry. 

As retail companies try to adapt and think outside the box in the new normal, more than ever, every sale is of extreme importance. This brings crucial importance to the never-ending quest for 100% accuracy of having the right merchandise at the right place, at the right time. Kim Berknov joins Proxima360‘s Carlos Diaz on the Retail Corner podcast to discuss transforming inventory accuracy with RFID.

The podcast covers:

  • What improvements have been made to RFID in order to see drastic changes in cycle counts, inventory counts and receiving merchandise
  • The timing and productivity difference between conventional inventory counts versus RFID technology
  • How RFID improves the replenishment process
  • The best approach to get started in implementing RFID
  • And more…

You can listen to Retail Corner here, or watch below:

Detego's Latest Retail Insights & News

Discover how RFID is changing retail for good. This eBook will guide you through the top 10 needs identified by retailers to ensure sustainable success in the modern environment. Explore the common challenges preventing retailers from achieving their goals and learn how applying smart RFID-based solutions delivers consistently good results.
The RFID Software Specialists Joins Network of Companies Certified to Help Businesses Implement GS1 Standards
Breaking down the success of RFID in fashion retail

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Overview 

Detego has installed its cloud-hosted RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) SaaS platform in Marc Cain’s new state-of-the-art Distribution Centre (DC). Detego delivered the solution alongside KNAPP, who led the overall development of the new centralised operation. The highly-automated Distribution Centre, based in Germany, uses RFID tunnels to verify inbound and outbound shipments without needing to open any boxes. The implementation of RFID in the Distribution Centre allows for over 35,000 articles to be processed on a daily basis, with 100% accuracy and significant improvement to efficiency and visibility of the supply chain.

 

The Challenge

Due to high demand online and in-store, Marc Cain decided to centralise their 6 regional warehouses into a single cutting-edge distribution centre, reinforced with the right technology to handle the high frequency of orders.

The solution

KNAPP AG led the design of the highly automated DC and they brought in Detego to implement an RFID solution – they needed to be able to efficiently validate shipments in and out of the DC with the efficiency and complete accuracy only possible with RFID

The Result

Utilising the Detego platform, Marc Cain’s DC verifies all inbound and outbound orders on an item-level without needing to open boxes. Staff simply place orders on the conveyor, and they pass through an RFID tunnel, which validates every item in the carton in seconds. Alongside highly sophisticated storage and packing processes implemented by KNAPP, the solution allows for 35,000 articles to be processed in a single day, with 100% accuracy.

Marc Cain DC, Detego & Knapp

Building a DC fit for the future 

Marc Cain is a worldwide premium brand for women’s fashion, operating predominantly out of Germany. After continued growth, the brand opted to move away from their regional warehouses to develop and construct a highly-sophisticated singular DC which boasts over 24,500m2 of usable area. Marc Cain’s logistics and solutions partner, KNAPP, brought in RFID specialists, Detego, to integrate the necessary RFID systems with their leading KiSoft WMS & WCS software. Doing so allows for automated item-level tracking of products both entering and leaving the Distribution Centre. These advancements have enabled Marc Cain to cope with their increased demand whilst ensuring complete accuracy and timely shipping of all orders.

“As we had already experienced good cooperation in another project with Detego, we have reached out to them when we started discussing the RFID request Marc Cain was looking for. Within a short time, we were able to integrate the state-of-the art platform from Detego in the solution we were providing to Marc Cain. With that extension, we can support Marc Cain to increase the efficiency and reliability inside the warehouse and have 100% content checks for every delivery leaving the warehouse”

Stefan Leichtenmueller – Customer Care Manager.

 

Automated RFID validation for complete accuracy

RFID is frequently being adopted in Apparel retailers’ Distribution Centres, as the speed at which it can process shipments at item-level is unmatched. Detego has a strong pedigree of deploying RFID solutions in the supply chain, being the first to develop an end-to-end software platform for retail. This experience, alongside their focus on the apparel retail sector, makes their advanced RFID platform a perfect match for KNAPPs leading warehouse automation systems and software for e-commerce, retail, and fashion. The decision to use RFID was made even more attractive by the fact Marc Cain have already adopted RFID-driven processes in stores, allowing them to gain additional value out of their digital garments within the supply chain.

“With this solution, Marc Cain can perform automated inbound and outbound RFID validation, ensuring complete accuracy going in and out of the Distribution Centre,”

Urs Konstantin Rouette, Managing Director, Technical Development, Production, Purchase & Logistics.

Staff simply place cartons on a conveyor and the boxes are taken through an RFID tunnel which counts and validates every individual garment inside the box, without needing a line of sight. All information is stored in the cloud-hosted Detego platform providing complete visibility over items entering and leaving the DC. Any cartons with discrepancies are automatically diverted to exception handling lanes where they are double-checked with High-Density Read Chambers (HDRCs) and subsequently corrected.

KNAPP also share additional customers with Detego and is one of many 3rd party logistics providers that Detego has recently partnered with to integrate their RFID platform. As the demand for visibility and operational efficiencies in the supply chain increase, more retailers are seeking RFID systems to complement their existing technology stacks from factory, to distribution centre and throughout store networks.

Take a look around the DC with project leaders, KNAPP:

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Apparel Retail’s New Normal: COVID-19 Impact and Future Trends

16th June 4 pm BST / 11 am EDT 

As apparel retail begins to get back to its feet, how are retailers preparing in the short-term, and what lasting effects will there be? The pandemic will cause the rapid acceleration of ongoing changes in the industry, and entirely new ones that could never have been expected.

Now stores are facing new social distancing guidelines, the formula for customer experience has changed. With reduced foot traffic and higher levels of eCommerce, the digital evolution of the retail store is now or never.  Join us on the 16th of June as we dive into the physical and digital transformations behind retail’s ‘new normal’.

 

This webinar will cover:

  • The impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the apparel retail industry
  • How retailers are adapting retail stores to social distancing measures
  • How a shift in the balance between eCommerce and brick-and-mortar is driving retailers to adopt digital-enabled stores
  • How retailers can utilise digital and analytics to optimise operations and solve key challenges

🏪 What is in-store fulfilment?  

In-store fulfilment, also known as ship-from-store, is an Omnichannel retail strategy that essentially involves utilising retail stores as miniature distribution centres. This allows eCommerce orders to be fulfilled and shipped to customers from either the primary DC or a nearby store. Having multiple options for fulfilment available means retailers can take some pressure off DC’s and offer customers more stock and faster delivery by utilising nearby stores.

Detego Ship-from-store

📦 Could ship-from-store be a viable strategy during the COVID-19 pandemic?

The use of in-store fulfilment and ‘mini DC’s’ has been steadily growing for years, due to both the continued growth of eCommerce as well as the inherent business benefits listed below. In the current climate of COVID-19, with stores closed and the immediate-future uncertain, leveraging closed stores as DC’s could potentially help alleviate the increased pressure on eCommerce operations and help brands achieve business continuity during this time. The practicality of this will vary between brands and even countries, but its possible a reduced small team of staff could run as an effective warehouse during the coming months.

🚚 What are the advantages of using stores as miniature Distribution Centres?

  • Takes some pressure off DC’s, meaning a brand can handle increasing eCommerce orders without needing to invest in additional DC’s
  • Reduces shipping costs by moving distribution points closer to destination
  • Increases delivery speed as orders are shipped from nearby stores
  • Idle inventory that is sitting in stores can instead be sold through eCommerce – increases margins by preventing seasonal mark-downs.
  • Ship-from-store is an effective and profitable way to prevent inventory stockpiling up at the wrong locations
  • Retailers can offer customers more products i.e. not just inventory available at the DC
  • Alternative ‘mini-DC’s’ offer fulfilment options if the primary DC is temporarily shut down or disrupted.
  • Leverages staff during slow periods for stores or if stores are temporarily closed
  • Offers more products/sizes to customers (see figure below)
Product availability increase from ship from store

☑️ What is required to leverage stores as DC’s?

Whilst the benefits are huge, getting in-store fulfilment right is a fine balance and requires a certain amount of technology and digital integration across the supply chain. Retailers who attempt to offer ship-from-store (or any omnichannel capability) without these prerequisites will struggle. According to the Accenture study ‘Transforming Modern Retail’, Survey respondents that offer ship-from-store claimed that 31 percent of such orders triggered a split shipment, a result of not having the right foundations in place.
So, what do retailers need in order to utilise in-store fulfilment?

  1. Inventory Visibility – First and foremost, for cooperation across and between shopping channels, (i.e. for eCommerce to leverage inventory outside of their primary DC) brands need to have inventory visibility across their supply chain and stores. This view of stock needs to be unified between all channels and be as up to date as possible in order to achieve a ‘single point of truth’ for a brands merchandise.
  2. High Stock AccuracyHaving visibility over all of a brands merchandise is a start, but if this information is not highly accurate, cross-channel initiatives like this one will be fairly ineffective. Retail store inventories can be as low as 70% accurate when it comes to item-level product information. If this is the baseline for ship-from-store, it will result in either split shipments or cancelled orders – resulting in high costs and disappointed customers. For Omnichannel options like this, accuracy needs to be near 99% to confidently offer advanced purchasing options to customers.
  3. Investment in StoresTo facilitate in-store fulfilment a certain amount of investment needs to be made for stores. This may involve slightly altering the layout of a store, or hiring extra staff, depending on the business. More crucially, investment may need to be made in technology to achieve the accurate inventory visibility required to offer ship-from-store. This may include advanced inventory management technology like RFID.
  4. Maintained Store Inventory levelsOnce this is in place and retailers are utilising in-store fulfilment, care needs to be taken to maintain the balance of store inventory between stock available to be used for eCommerce fulfilment and stock that is available for sale in the store. This is a fine balance to maximise sales between both channels. Retailers must ensure ship-from-store orders do not cause out-of-stocks for the brick-and-mortar store that is fulfilling them.
Challenges of offering ship-from-store
Solving Retail's top 10 needs with RFID

eBook

Solving Retail's Top 10 Needs with RFID

Discover how retail RFID is changing the industry for good. This eBook will guide you through the top 10 needs identified by retailers to ensure sustainable success in the modern environment. Explore the common challenges preventing retailers from achieving their goals and learn how applying smart RFID-based solutions delivers consistently good results.

Want the latest retail and retail tech insights directly to your inbox?

Discover how RFID is changing retail for good. This eBook will guide you through the top 10 needs identified by retailers to ensure sustainable success in the modern environment. Explore the common challenges preventing retailers from achieving their goals and learn how applying smart RFID-based solutions delivers consistently good results.
The RFID Software Specialists Joins Network of Companies Certified to Help Businesses Implement GS1 Standards
Breaking down the success of RFID in fashion retail

Complete Supply chain visibility was once an optional bonus for retailers, but in the modern industry it is becoming more and more of a necessity.

Whilst in the past, limited tracking of shipments in the supply chain was commonplace, in the modern environment with its more complex supply chains, delivery options and increasing customer expectations, retailers need to do more.

This isn’t just us saying so, retailers recognise this too. According to a report by Zebra Technologies, 72% of retailers are working on digitizing their supply chains in order to achieve real-time visibility.

What Is Supply Chain Visibility?  

Having visibility means being able to accurately track products and shipments throughout the supply chain, from the manufacturer, to the distribution centre and finally to the store. Having this visibility prevents shipping errors, improves operational efficiency and allows retailers to leverage products to service their customers better.

See also: a single view of stock for retail

Extent of supply chain visibility

Why Do Retailers Need Visibility?

Managing supply chains effectively is always a priority for retailers. But as these supply chains get bigger the challenge becomes more daunting. Visibility is needed to align such large operations, and this is before you add new pressures like omnichannel, traceability and online orders.

Additionally, supply chain visibility is arguably even more important in ecommerce than for pure-play brick and mortar retailers. Not only do you need to know exactly what stock the fulfilment centre has, but what stock it is due to receive and when. And since pure-play brick and mortar retailers are now few and far between , this now means that most retailers’ supply chains need to be more advanced and transparent than previously required.

This is before mentioning the divisive omnichannel word, which often requires even greater transparency and synergy between stores and distribution centres and includes multiple delivery options.

There are also more classic supply chain challenges that can be helped by achieving visibility. General inefficiencies and inaccuracies can be reduced by adding more checkpoints throughout the supply chain – particularly when these are done at an item level, and not shipment or carton level.

Adding this visibility also makes better communication between different stages of the chain possible, which leads to smoother operations. Having visibility at an item-level also makes traceability of items through the supply chain possible. This can make a massive difference in combatting supply chain shrinkage, and in some cases the grey market.

3 reasons supply chin visibility is important

The ‘New’ Challenges:

 

Multi/omni-channel businesses – It seems like an age ago, but traditional retail supply chains went in one direction and to one place – stores. Now almost all retailers also run their businesses online meaning their they operate on multiple sales channels, therefore, their supply chains service far more destinations than before.

Multiple delivery options – A relatively recent challenge created by the growth of online and the already mentioned omnichannel purchasing options. Retailers want to offer their customers as much stock and as many purchasing options as possible, but without the technology to support it, this can cause problems. In an Accenture survey, respondents claimed that 31 percent of their Ship from Store orders triggered a split shipment.

Customer expectations – Customer expectations has shifted. In a 2019 report, it was found that Half of shoppers reported abandoning a purchase due to a lack of cross-channel buying options. This is a major impact on sales, and many retailers are starting to adapt to the change in expectations.

The Old Challenges:

 

Supply chain inefficiency – Supply chain inefficiencies and miscommunication through “Chinese Whispers” are costing UK businesses over £1.5bn in lost productivity according to analysis of industry data from Zencargo.

Supply chain shrinkage – According to the National Security Survey, businesses in the United States lose $45.2 billion through inventory shrinkage a year. Whilst retail stores make up the majority of this, supply chains still experience large amounts of inventory shrink, particularly when they have no visibility of products.

What are the benefits of having supply chain visibility?

  • Better customer service

  • Improved inventory control

  • Shorter cycle times

  • Smoother operational processes between stores and DC’s

  • Better data for more intelligent business decisions

  • Reduce out of stocks

  • Track and trace products

  • Offer effective omnichannel services and delivery options

Detego Retail Track and Trace

How Do You Achieve Supply Chain Visibility?

  • Implement a system that works at an item-level (not whole cartons)

  • Accurately track products at as many points as possible during shipping

  • Inbound and outbound counts at every stage of shipping

  • Implement effective exception handling

  • Use a cloud-based system to integrate all stages of the supply chain and achieve as close to a real-time view of merchandise movement as possible

  • Send advanced shipping notices (ASN’s) so warehouses and stores now exactly what they’ll receive

  • Use this visibility to enable traceability of each item throughout its journey

Retail Supply chain tracking

The Detego Platform allows retailers to gain complete visibility over their operations

If you’re looking for a solution or partner to help achieve better supply chain visibility, consider our platform!

Using RFID item level-tagging, the cloud-based Detego platform gives each individual item a unique digital identity. Items are then tracked from factory to shop floor using radio frequency identification (RFID) methods. RFID makes this possible as inbound, outbound and even exception handling can then be done through RFID reads – which are fast, accurate and can be done without opening cartons.

Since RFID works on the individual item-level, the result of this is complete visibility of the supply chain. The platform utilises the IoT to create a complete overview of every single product in the supply chain, as its cloud hosted this can be close to real-time and is the ‘single point of truth’ for the entire business.

Want the latest retail and retail tech insights directly to your inbox?

Discover how RFID is changing retail for good. This eBook will guide you through the top 10 needs identified by retailers to ensure sustainable success in the modern environment. Explore the common challenges preventing retailers from achieving their goals and learn how applying smart RFID-based solutions delivers consistently good results.
The RFID Software Specialists Joins Network of Companies Certified to Help Businesses Implement GS1 Standards
Breaking down the success of RFID in fashion retail

Online returns have been a challenge for retailers since the beginning of eCommerce. This is because of both their volume compared to normal stores, and the costs associated with processing them. In the wake of COVID-19, this problem could prove more critical then ever, as online becomes retailers’ singular sales channel. There is already early evidence of this, with preliminary data from Quantum Metric showing that eCommerce associated with Brick and Mortar retailers saw an average revenue weekly growth rate increase of 52%, and Nike Inc.’s digital sales went up by 36%.

The eCommerce returns dilemma

Online shopping is popular for a reason, but the convenience and choice of eCommerce comes at the price of not being able to ‘try before you buy’ for customers.

This simple difference is the reason online returns are so much more prevalent than for Brick and Mortar stores. In eCommerce the customers’ homes becomes the fitting room. And, just like any fitting room, products end up back on the shelves. According to Happy Returns, while shoppers return only 10% of what they buy in stores, they send back up to 50% of what they buy online.

This is compounded by customers accounting for this when ordering online. A survey from Barclays found that 30% of shoppers deliberately over-purchase and subsequently return unwanted items. Additionally, 20% regularly order multiple versions (often sizes) of the same item so they could make their mind up when they are delivered, all of which is facilitated by the retailer at great cost.

While it might seem logical to have stricter returns policies, or make customers cover the cost of returns, consumer expectations make this a risky strategy. According to the 2017 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper survey, 68% of shoppers view returns policies before making a purchase. This leaves retailers with a catch-22 situation when it comes to losing out on online sales or losing profits from processing the inevitable returns that comes with those sales.

Retail returns by product type

What are the challenges of retail returns?

So why are returns such a strain on retailers?

Cost of returns First and foremost is the simple cost of returns. Since returns are in themselves essentially lost sales, the added cost of returning them, which according to CNBC is on average 30% of the purchase price, can heavily impact retailer’s margins.

Processing returns and reverse logisticsOn top of this is the resources and effort of processing returns and getting the stock back available to be sold as quickly as possible. This reverse logistics can be particularly challenging and can result in returned stock not being available for purchase again for some time, often leading to out-of-stocks on the webshop. According to the Barclays report, 57% of retailers say that dealing with returns has a negative impact on the day-to-day running of their business.

Contamination concerns with COVID-19? – A unique and recent challenge, particularly for apparel retailers, is dealing with the potential contamination and contact of returned good with the COVID-19 virus. Initial research suggests that the virus can only survive on fabric surfaces for 24 hours, but for up to 72 on plastics like packaging. This will need to be addressed by eCommerce retailers who continue trading throughout the epidemic.

Return fraudThis is a challenge shared by brick-and-mortar stores. Fraudulent returns cost the US alone 27 billion dollars a year. This can involve the ‘returning’ of stolen merchandise for cash, stealing receipts to enable a false return or using someone else’s receipt to return unpurchased store stock. Naturally, using receipts for returns presents a risk, APPRISS found that receipted returns are more than twice as likely to be fraudulent as other methods.

Summary of retail returns fraud US

How to reduce the impact of returns on eCommerce

So what options are there for retailers looking to tackle their returns problems?

  1. Reduce the likelihood of returns, without harming customer experience or sales: Include accurate and detailed product descriptions. Use uniformed/standard sizes where possible and provide a more specific sizing filter. Offer virtual ‘try-ons’ with augmented reality/3D imaging.
  2. Set clear and accessible rules regarding returns: Make sure customers know what and how they are allowed to return items, this reduces spending resources processing illegitimate returns.
  3. Improve visibility: Maintain a single view of stock with item-level inbound and outbound processes, this will also allow for online returns back to stores, and ship-from-store. Make this visibility accessible to your entire team and your customers.
  4. Improve efficiency of inbound and outbound processes: Utilise reliable & efficient technologies and automated processes like exception handling. One of the leading technologies for this is RFID, which prevents the need to open any boxes or packages as it can count and verify items without direct line of sight.
  5. Improve internal processes: Ensure returns processes (and supporting software) enables additional layers of merchandise management such as grading items based on quality and tracking when the item was returned.
  6. Counter Return Fraud: Verify legitimacy of returns as much as possible, best practise involves unique item-level validation like RFID or unique serial numbers.
  7. Ensure returned stock is safe to sell: Implement processes to ensure returns are not damaged in any way, implement a policy to account for safe handling of merchandise during theCovid-19 pandemic, either sanitising products or leaving them a set amount of time before adding back into webshop stock.

Using RFID tagging and looking to improve return processes?

NEW: eCommerce returns module

eCommerce/ DTC is increasing due to COVID-19. This causes an over proportional increase in returns which normally would require a ramp up of staff and equipment to handle the process – Detego’s new RFID enabled return process provides an approx 90% productivity increase.

Want the latest retail and retail tech insights directly to your inbox?

Discover how RFID is changing retail for good. This eBook will guide you through the top 10 needs identified by retailers to ensure sustainable success in the modern environment. Explore the common challenges preventing retailers from achieving their goals and learn how applying smart RFID-based solutions delivers consistently good results.
The RFID Software Specialists Joins Network of Companies Certified to Help Businesses Implement GS1 Standards
Breaking down the success of RFID in fashion retail

The Current Impact of COVID-19 on Retail

Supply Chain Chaos

Retail manufacturing and production have been heavily disrupted by COVID-19, particularly in China. In apparel and textiles, China is still the world’s biggest exporter. Even apparel manufacturers based elsewhere are often reliant on textiles imported from China. China being hit by COVID-19 and having to shut down factories and production has caused huge supply chain and production disruption around the world, with luxury retailers like Burberry and Prada being hit particularly hard.

As more and more countries are affected, supply chains may be disrupted further downstream. Larger distribution centres that service multiple countries could be most problematic, not only for fears of contamination but stores in countries that aren’t as heavily affected could have their product supply disrupted. On the other hand, since China was affected by the pandemic first they may recover first, so by the time other countries are beginning to come out of lockdown and preventative measures, this supply bottleneck may well be clearing further upstream.

Shutting of physical stores & reduced footfall

Across the globe  brick and mortar sales are suffering. Stores are either being closed on government orders or simply being closed by the retailer to protect staff and public. The stores that remain open are being hit by the heavily reduced footfall as the majority of the public attempt to avoid unnecessary social contact.

The effects of this on revenue have the potential to be fatal. Lost sales are damaging enough, but when you factor in continued overheads for stores like rent, wages and inventory, it is a dangerous situation. Only time will tell how damaging these effects will be on retailers across the globes, with the main variables being:

  • How long areas remain affected & stores are closed for.
  • To what extent a retailer’s eCommerce operation can pick up the slack (more on this below)
  • How big or financially stable the retailer is prior to the epidemic – large tier 1 & 2 retailers may be able to shoulder the burden for longer than their smaller or independent counterparts.

Spike in Online Sales

With many stores closing and consumers avoiding most of the ones that remain, it’s no surprise there has been a spike in online shopping due to COVID-19. This is exemplified by the eCommerce kings Amazon who are taking on 100,000 extra staff across the US as it tries to keep up with a surge in orders sparked by the pandemic.

Whilst its good for both the retailer and the consumer that most brands now operate both on and offline, the sudden shift in proportion between online and offline sales may cause retailers problems if they struggle to keep up with demand. These issues include fulfilment centres not coping with increased demand and the amount of returns that come alongside online orders. 

 The other major consideration for many retailers is the typically smaller margins on eCommerce orders compared to brick and mortar sales, meaning that they may not be able to rely on their eCommerce branch to survive for too long.

Future Considerations

So, what might a post-COVID-19 retail landscape look like? Will retailers take lessons from the crisis and bolster their infrastructure so they are more prepared for similar events in the future? Or once the dust settles will this be counted as a freak event and forgotten about? Here are possible considerations for retail life after COVID-19.

Continued advancement of e-commerce

This was bound to happen even without the pandemic, but COVID-19 may just have accelerated, or at the very least highlighted, the growth of online shopping and its advantages over physical retail. It is likely that retailers with a strong eCommerce offering will come out of the slump in a much better position. 

For multi-channel retailers who had to rely on their online sales more than ever during COVID-19, evaluation into their eCommerce operations, particularly at their efficiency and smaller margins, are very likely. This may take the form of bolstering their supply chain technology and distribution centres, to increase efficiency and reduce running costs to see better margins in the future.

Diversifying manufacturing facilities

Steps have been gradually made in this area even before COVID-19, but in the aftermath of the pandemic, this may be a real concern for retailers and manufacturers. The problem isn’t China, or anywhere in particular. The problem is having such a heavy reliance on a single market, which then becomes a single point of failure for the business. Profit margins will always be a priority, but more cautious retailers and manufactures may look to diversify their production operations to be less reliant on a single region in the future.

Source-to-consumer traceability in supply chains

This is another area that was already a growing priority for many retailers. In the aftermath of COVID-19, it is likely to be even more of a concern, for both retailers and consumers. Not only does traceability help create smoother operations in the supply process, but it can offer assurances to consumers who may have growing concerns about where their products are sourced. With item-level traceability being where the industry is headed, consumers will be able to judge for themselves that their food, clothing and other things they bring into their homes is safely made and transported.

Automated warehouses and supply chains

The other element of the retail supply chain and distribution process that may change in the future is a heavier reliance on automation. This will make supply chains and distribution centres more robust, so able to withstand increased pressure. Automating processes like exception handling also means DC’s can run faster and with a leaner workforce.

Why may retailers look at automating supply chain operations in the future?

  •       More efficient – can deal with larger quantities of goods
  •       More accurate can deal with larger demand without creating bottlenecks
  •       Takes the reliance away from human resource constraints

Self-service stores and cashierless checkout 

Finally, could the coronavirus be a catalyst for increased investment in self-service technology like cashier-less stores? We’ve seen retail giants like Amazon and Sainsbury’s explore these initiatives, but they have yet to be adopted on a large scale. Could that change? It may feel like a knee-jerk reaction to invest in technology that supports reduced human interaction but, particularly for supermarkets, solutions like Marks and Spencers’ mobile scan & pay could alleviate pressurised checkout lines.

Conclusion

We’ve gone over the major concerns for retail, the possible impact they could have, and the potential knock-on effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the retail industry. But the fact is no one really knows. We are in uncharted waters, and for now, retailers are just struggling to ride the wave to the other side.

What we do know is this will pass. The main question for retailers that will determine the severity of the pandemic’s impact is when. Whilst this isn’t the second ‘retail apocalypse’, it is more than likely that the retail landscape that comes out of the coronavirus crisis may be very different from the one that went into it.

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Apparel Retail’s New Normal: COVID-19 Impact and Future Trends

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Discover how RFID is changing retail for good. This eBook will guide you through the top 10 needs identified by retailers to ensure sustainable success in the modern environment. Explore the common challenges preventing retailers from achieving their goals and learn how applying smart RFID-based solutions delivers consistently good results.
The RFID Software Specialists Joins Network of Companies Certified to Help Businesses Implement GS1 Standards
Breaking down the success of RFID in fashion retail

When it comes to digital transformation, RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) has been the hype in retail for several years now. It has, however, been a bumpy road to success. In the past, stories of failed implementations and botched rollouts were far too common and kept many retailers from taking the plunge. Thankfully these days the picture is much more encouraging. We are now spoilt for case studies and examples of retailers having enormous success with the technology to digitise their inventory and processes for the modern retail environment.

 

So, what makes the difference between failure and success?

Ultimately it comes down to a combination of knowledge, technology and price. Improvements in all three of these areas have evolved the technology into a vital component of any digital transformation journey in retail. But as with any transformative project, getting the detail right is vital. The approach to implementation and suppliers you choose to engage with will have big implications on ROI.

A best-practise approach is easier said than done, so you need to surround yourself with a team of experts who have skin in the game and ensure the solution you choose to implement has the capabilities to lead your digital transformation for years to come.

Technology Venn Diagram

Our recommended 6 steps to digital transformation with RFID:

 1.   Understand the problems you want to solve and clearly define the KPIs

The first step in any new tech investment is to be sure that you have clarity around what problems you are hoping to solve. This will often require some hard-hitting questions and honest auditing of current processes and data to understand where you and your customer’s biggest pain points are. Customer feedback surveys are always a good way to gain insight into this.

 

What common retail problems can RFID solve?

  • Stock inaccuracy leading to out-of-stock situations
  • Poor product availability on salesfloors and webshop resulting in lost sales
  • Labour costs and operational inefficiencies
  • Reduction in excess/safety stock
  • Inventory visibility and supply chain traceability

Luckily, these problems all have clear KPIs related to them and can be used as a great measurement tool to understand your current position and build a business case for the investment.

2.   Choose a software partner that will help you achieve more

Once you have clearly defined RFID as the technology you want to implement, it is then vital to choose the right partners to go on your digital transformation journey with. Within the RFID market, there are generally three partner types – hardware, labels and software. The software component is the most important aspect as this must be able to process all the data, integrate with existing systems and empower employees with user-friendly applications to improve daily processes. Choosing the best-suited partners will make all the difference to ensuring you have a scalable and future proof solution for the next 5+ years.

 

What to look for in an RFID software partner?

  • Credibility in the market – do they have proven RFID deployments with reputable brands in your sector?
  • Future-proofed services – do they have a product roadmap that inspires innovation and constant improvement?
  • Scalability and flexibility – does the solution fit your business needs and implementation roadmap?
  • Industry expertise – do they have deep industry knowledge to understand your specific business requirements and help you think through these challenges?
RFID Implementation Ecosystem Diagram

3.   Trial the solution, prove the business case

Any digital transformation project requires buy-in from multiple departments and key decision-makers. The best way to achieve this is to prove the business case in a live retail environment. This is done through a ‘Pilot’ process whereby the solution is tested in around 3-5 live stores, allowing for the critical KPIs to be assessed and to gain a clearer understanding of the implications for store processes. With SaaS-enabled solutions, this process can be done more efficiently through the use of cloud-hosted mobile solutions, essentially making them ‘plug & play’.

 

What does the pilot process involve?

  1. Tagging party of all items in Pilot stores with RFID labels

  2. Product Master Data uploaded to SFTP (or FTP)

  3. Training of store associates

  4. Use of handheld readers and mobile app to perform daily store operations

  5. Daily KPI tracking to analyse results:

    • Improvement in stock accuracy
    • Improvement in on-floor availability
    • Increase in sales
Detego RFID Software Dashboard

4.   Store rollout with speed for immediate ROI

Although it seems attractive to enable all of the features and RFID-enabled services in one go, and undergo a digital transformation overnight, the reality is often different. Instead, retailers should approach implementation in phases to manage the changes in process and IT requirements. A best-practice approach to RFID implementation should focus on improving the fundamental processes that will bring the most immediate ROI to the business. These processes include stocktakes and replenishment to significantly increase stock accuracy and on-floor availability within stores. Improving these two KPI’s generally results in a direct sales uplift of 5-10%. From there, you can re-invest returns back into the continuous enablement of RFID throughout your business.

 

What elements are most critical to a successful store rollout?

 

  • Speed and ease of implementation

    • New innovations such as Smart Shielding removes the need for physical shielding installations – saving time and money.
    • SaaS-enabled platforms allow for scalable pricing models and cloud-hosted solutions.
    • Open APIs allow for easy system integration with ERP

 

  • Support services

    • Training to educate staff on the changes in daily processes
    • Customer success and support to maximise the use of the software

 

  • Change management leadership

    • Ensuring you have a dedicated team to oversee the rollout

5.   Full omnichannel enablement

After securing the foundations of stock accuracy and on-floor availability in stores, the next step is to connect the online and offline business. Omnichannel services such as click & collect (aka BOPIS) and Ship-From-Store are expected in the modern retail environment as consumers demand to shop anywhere, anytime and any way they want. However, it’s important to ensure you can deliver on these retail experiences so that customers don’t end up disappointed. Enabling this requires connecting inventory from your store networks with your distribution centres and webshop to create a single and transparent view of stock.

 

 What’s required for Omnichannel retailing?

  • Transparent view of stock across all stores made available to the online store
  • Automate warehouse processes with RFID tunnel and outbound processes
  • Offer new services such as click & collect, ship-from-store etc.
Single stock view

6.   Unlock the true power of RFID with new retail experiences

 

Stock accuracy, product availability and omnichannel services are synonymous with RFID in retail and should always be the focus of any digital transformation utilising the technology. However, there is also an unlimited amount of untapped data and potential that is a sitting gold mine once you have RFID implemented throughout the supply chain. New solutions for consumer engagement and artificial intelligence engines can now be utilised to provide new services, experiences and insights for retailers and consumers alike.

 

What new innovations can be enabled?

Interested in discussing your RFID Journey? Talk to the experts.

At Detego we know retail and we know RFID. This combination has enabled us to develop the most innovative RFID software solutions on the market, alongside major global fashion brands. With RFID now on almost every retailer’s roadmap, we have the answers for any step of the journey, anywhere within your operations.

Everyone has to start somewhere, which is why we have out-of-the-box solutions to quick-start your RFID journey. Alternatively, if RFID is well and truly ingrained in your business, then talk to Detego about how we are using AI and innovative new practices to take real-time decision making to the next level.

Digital store journey

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Discover how RFID is changing retail for good. This eBook will guide you through the top 10 needs identified by retailers to ensure sustainable success in the modern environment. Explore the common challenges preventing retailers from achieving their goals and learn how applying smart RFID-based solutions delivers consistently good results.
The RFID Software Specialists Joins Network of Companies Certified to Help Businesses Implement GS1 Standards
Breaking down the success of RFID in fashion retail