Detego and Zebra Technologies have a long-standing partnership with successful global RFID rollouts. Joint customers include some of the world’s leading fashion brands.

Learn more in our new whitepaper about how this partnership approach provides the best and most sustainable approach to RFID implementation.

“By using Detego and Zebra RFID solutions to digitize stock counts one major global retailer increased inventory accuracy to 99%”

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It’s no secret that omnichannel retailing is increasing rapidly. Retailers now understand that to achieve maximum sales and growth, it’s no longer possible just to have a brick-and-mortar store. Instead, retailers must utilise multiple sales methods to reach the maximum number of customers and provide a variety of ways to purchase.

The payoff for retailers who have invested in omnichannel services is massive. US retail giant Target saw its digital sales increase by 195% in 2021. In addition to this, they discovered that omnichannel customers spend four times the amount store-only customers spend and ten times more than digital-only customers. For example, 80% of customers who return products to stores choose to spend their refund in store. The growth possibilities for retailers who embrace omnichannel services are endless.

However, a critical feature of successful omnichannel retailing that often goes under the radar is brand consistency for retailers. This means improving your brand assets alongside your physical retail assets – for example, investing in your social media – and keeping a consistent brand identity across all of your digital platforms and in-store.

Retailers that prioritise brand consistency notably fare far better than those with a lukewarm approach to branding and identity. For example, luxury fashion house Louis Vuitton has managed to sustain their brand identity over a 160-year history, repurposing this into an online brand with over 20 million followers on Instagram. Similarly, fashion retailer Boohoo has thrived over the last year as it has built a consistent image across its app, social media accounts, and website.

Brand consistency for retailers has undoubtedly become more important as e-commerce has become a mainstay of the retail environment. Analysis from Millward Brown Optimor found that in 1980, most of the value of an average S&P 500 company came from physical assets such as factories or inventory. However, in 2010, these physical assets comprised a maximum of 40% of the company’s total value. The other 60% of the company’s value came from intangible assets, and around half of it was attributed to the brand.

We know that omnichannel retailing will only grow in the future, as will the dependence on e-commerce. In 2021, the percentage of customers who shop online (41%) is catching up with the percentage of customers who still shop in physical stores (43%). As a result, brand consistency for retailers will also become a top priority.

How Retailers Can Successfully Achieve Brand Consistency

There are several factors to achieving brand consistency for retailers. Cultivating a consistent brand identity is also more challenging for retailers than in other industries. Companies need to consider their in-store layout, online persona, product range, customer service channels, promotions, and packaging. To achieve consistency, each area has to work towards the overall brand identity and present a consistent brand image and personality.

A store solution for brand consistency for retailers can often be as simple as choosing a signature colour to implement in your stores and online – this alone can increase brand recognition by 80%. However, before implementing any store solutions, brands must clarify their goals, mission statement, audience, and style guidelines for messaging. If these are strong, it will be easier to design a brand identity that encompasses your company ethos.

For retailers, brand consistency also starts with recognising the customer journey. This means identifying how your customers engage with your brand along multiple touchpoints. For example, if they visit your website, then choose to ship to a store, or visit your physical store to try on products which they will then purchase online. According to McKinsey, performing well on customer journeys is 35% more predictive of customer satisfaction than performance on individual touchpoints. In the end, omnichannel retailing is only as powerful as your brand identity.

If brick-and-mortar stores are still a priority for you, consider store solutions like pop-up displays to educate customers on your products. Other elements like music or lighting will also go some way to communicating your brand’s personality. Whatever you choose, you should implement the same conscious design and stylistic choices across all of your stores, as well as online.

Using Brand Consistency as a Growth Strategy

In 2020, Deloitte concluded that purpose and authenticity were the keys to future retail solutions. Without these two qualities, consumers cannot connect with brands and lose interest in purchasing their products. For retailers, brand consistency provides a way to communicate your brand’s purpose and ensure you appear as authentic as possible.

But brand consistency for retailers isn’t just about implementing a few changes across your online and in-store assets and leaving it at that. Your brand identity needs to be consistently maintained and, in some cases, altered to reflect your customer’s priorities. As such, brand consistency should form part of a retailer’s growth strategy which it returns to frequently.

For example, millennial and Generation Z consumers behave very differently from other generations, and companies have to adapt to keep their brands relevant. For example, millennials ascribe more value to brand purpose than older generations – 62% of millennials favour products that promote their social or political beliefs, compared to 21% of people aged 55 or older. The same is true of Gen Z, 60% of whom say it is important that brands value their opinions.

The results are even starker for Generation Z, who by 2026 will make up the largest consumer base in the US. They differ from millennials in their motivations for buying and how they make purchasing decisions. Whereas millennials may be interested in brand status – buying a product for the brand name – Generation Z is more interested in purchasing products that make them stand out, regardless of brand. Brand consistency for retailers will become even more important to appeal to the Generation Z market. There will be an increase in social media marketing spending plus a focus on making physical stores more of an experience than the traditional brick-and-mortar store.

In the end, evidence shows that investing in your brand identity will have long-term benefits. Strong brands consistently outperform averages for the market. McKinsey research shows that the top 40 worldwide brands have outperformed the Morgan Stanley Capital International benchmark every year for the last 13 years. It’s also true that when consistently maintained, a strong brand identity can drive a 10-20% increase in overall growth.

If you can entice the Generation Z market with your brand identity, you’re also going to see lifetime pay-off – 66% of Gen Z shoppers said that once they find a brand they like, they will continue to buy from them for a long time.

Delivering a Seamless Experience for Customers

Cohesive and compelling brand identity will inevitably inform your customer experience – that is, how your customers experience your brand in-store and online. A seamless experience is paramount to the omnichannel retail experience, and retailers cannot get this right before first evaluating how seamless their brand identity is. 

We also know that customers want an easy shopping experience as much as a compelling brand identity. The consequences of a bad shopping experience for some consumers can be dire for brands. 

Despite their brand loyalty, 64% of Generation Z consumers said they would switch to a competitor after multiple negative experiences with a company. 

If you’re taking advantage of omnichannel retailing, not only is brand consistency for retailers across numerous touchpoints important but also executing a seamless shopping experience. Customers want to know they can purchase the products they want, whether they’re shopping online or in-store. A consistent brand experience will also bolster a consistent brand identity: undoubtedly, omnichannel experiences and brand consistency for retailers go hand-in-hand.

But how can retailers build an omnichannel retail experience that also promotes brand consistency? Firstly, retailers should take advantage of customer service technology such as chatbots. Research shows that new generations of consumers are far more comfortable interacting with virtual assistants than older generations. 40% of Gen Z and millennial customers agree that when in a hurry, they would rather interact with a chatbot than a human customer service agent. Chatbots can also be customised to reveal a brand’s personality in their tone of voice and language use, so not only do they promote a seamless experience bus also bolster brand consistency for retailers

Additionally, retailers should build an omnichannel experience at every stage of the customer’s journey. Customers should have the option to return items either by post or in-store at their chosen location. This opens up further in-store interactions, which we know can often result in additional sales, as well as providing that effortless shopping experience that consumers desire. 

No matter how you go about building an omnichannel experience, companies agree that building a seamless experience is one of the most significant factors in growth; 21% of companies agree that customer experience is the most exciting opportunity for brands. However, customer experience can also be a way to enhance brand consistency for retailers, and technology like inventory software can aid that. 

How Inventory Software Can Help Improve Brand Consistency For Retailers

Earlier this year, we examined how brick-and-mortar stores are adapting post-pandemic. Currently, one of the biggest challenges for retailers is keeping consistent levels of stock across physical stores and online, and this has only been exacerbated by the ongoing supply chain crisis. However, providing a consistent experience hinges on providing the products your customers want when they want them. Not providing this can have drastic consequences for sales; 96% of shoppers have left a store without purchasing anything because they couldn’t find the exact product they wanted.

Over the last two years, increased dependence on online retail has also prompted retailers to consider their operations. Retailers are now expected to fulfil orders made online, on mobile, and in-store simultaneously, requiring more accurate fulfilment systems and inventory tracking.

When it comes to retail solutions that improve brand consistency for retailers, there is only one: inventory software. Inventory software can provide retailers with real-time visibility of where their stock is, whether in a distribution centre, in-store, or in transit. This transparency is crucial to keeping up with consumer demands and increasing customer satisfaction and providing seamless brand consistency for retailers across multiple touchpoints.

Nike is one of the brands using inventory software to create a more successful omnichannel retail strategy. Starting in 2019, they implemented RFID technology in almost all of their non-licensed apparel and footwear, a decision that started to pay off during the supply chain issues of 2020 and 2021.

The company saw a 75% increase in digital sales over the pandemic, one-third of their total revenue. The real-time data that RFID provided offered Nike greater insights into customer buying journeys and the popularity of products. As a result, they could easily respond to ​customer demand and divert products to where they were selling best.

However, deploying RFID with inventory software like Detego’s has also allowed Nike to enhance their brand identity further. By harnessing technology like RFID, Nike has transitioned from selling mainly to wholesale partners to selling directly to consumers: they call this the “consumer direct offensive.” As well as embracing omnichannel retailing, this has also been a way for the company to enhance their brand identity by interacting directly with customers.

Brand consistency for retailers and omnichannel selling work together, and inventory software like RFID is the tool that can enhance both of these crucial parts of your business. Book a consultation with Detego today to find out how RFID software can improve your omnichannel success and enhance your brand identity.

Detego Retail Store Application

Cloud-hosted RFID software

Stock accuracy, on-floor availability, and omnichannel applications in stores.

Book a demo with Detego to find out how our cloud-hosted RFID retail solution could help you improve your stock accuracy. With fast and easy results and application, our all-in-one software provides intelligent stock takes, improving the efficiency of your omnichannel services.

Learn how to elevate customer experience, build smarter operations, and optimize your inventory with Detego software and Zebra's retail-ready hardware solutions.
The grey market and parallel imports can have drastic consequences for retailers, especially when it comes to their brand value. Is RFID for retail the answer?
Retailers are increasingly looking for new ways to make their operations more environmentally friendly, and RFID for sustainable fashion retail is one of the solutions.

Traditionally, Black Friday has been one of the most successful times of the year for retailers. The total amount of sales during this period – especially online – has only increased year on year, and by employing effective performance solutions for Black Friday, retailers can often outperform their yearly KPIs in this one weekend.

However, this year is set to be different. Companies are already grappling with the ongoing supply chain crisis, but long-term changes to the retail sector make this year more difficult for retail businesses.

Research has shown that the retail industry is one of the most disrupted of all sectors. This disruption comes from all areas, and isn’t just limited to supply chains or the result of the pandemic. 43% of senior retail executives say the shift towards e-commerce has had a major impact on their organisation, but this is closely matched by other factors. These include evolving competition (38%), data privacy issues (37%), shifts in consumer demographics (35%), and technological advances (34%).

Not only is disruption affecting all areas of retail operations, but senior executives lack the confidence to tackle this disruption. Just 40% of retail leaders feel confident that they can survive the current disruption. To tackle this disruption, more innovative performance solutions for Black Friday are necessary to improve upon last year’s sales.

Despite the disruption, this Black Friday 2021 still looks promising for retailers. Online sales continue to increase, following a broader trend in retail but also as a reaction to the pandemic. Holiday spending this year is forecasted to increase by 10% compared to last year, while e-commerce is up 45% compared to 2019. Retailers can easily capitalise on this drive towards spending by pre-empting demand and turning to new performance solutions for Black Friday.

No matter which retail solutions leaders want to prioritise this year, they will undoubtedly be informed by digital transformation – 53% of retail organisations are choosing to invest in new technology to combat ongoing and future disruption. Whether that’s inventory software like RFID or improving their omnichannel customer experience using other forms of retail technology, there are a wide range of digital performance solutions for Black Friday for retailers to take advantage of.

The Current Issues Affecting the Retail Environment 

The retail industry is going through a period of sustained volatility, with much of this uncertainty being driven by the on-going supply chain crisis and the recovery from the pandemic. Earlier this year, we looked into the supply chain crisis in detail, examining how the crisis got to this stage.

Unpredictable consumer demands mean that the supply chain crisis has been building for a long time. However, incidents like the pandemic, the blockage of the Suez Canal by the Ever Given container ship, and labour shortages all exacerbated the problem. Just the Suez Canal blockage alone caused an estimated loss of $9.6 billion worth of goods each day.

But how can businesses adapt to the crisis? The biggest change retailers can make is to embrace digital solutions such as AI-driven forecasting and cloud software. But as 87% of retail executives now agree that disruption is a primary challenge confronting both business and society, it’s clear that there is more uncertainty in the future retail landscape. Though we’re seeing the first signs of recovery from the pandemic among retailers, there’s still a lot of change to come.

Whether that’s the increased use of AI in customer service, the rise in e-commerce, new forms of payment including virtual currency, or tackling large competitors like Amazon, the industry is changing rapidly. Now, retail solutions don’t just need to respond to crises as they happen but also anticipate periods of uncertainty and volatility. As a consequence, retail performance solutions for Black Friday should offer short-term growth and long-term investment in technology to future-proof retail operations.

How Consumers Are Changing and What This Means for Retailers

As businesses consider retail solutions to survive this long period of volatility, it’s worth noting that consumers are also changing. With issues like sustainability and omnichannel retailing becoming new priorities for consumers, businesses can no longer rely on outdated performance solutions for Black Friday. Instead, digital retail solutions like RFID allow retailers to anticipate consumer demand and successfully respond to new trends.

The largest chain in consumer habits has come with the rise of Generation Z consumers. These shoppers have increasing disposable income yet are more concerned than older generations with where they spend it – 70% of Gen Z consumers say they monitor their spending more carefully as a result of the pandemic. As such, any proposed performance solutions for Black Friday need to consider their concerns and habits.

In addition to this, Gen Z consumers are more likely to take advantage of omnichannel retailing. More so than the average customer, they want to shop whenever and however they like. They are 56% more likely to shop in-store for goods, but at the same, also 38% more likely to shop online than other generations. Consequently, performance solutions for Black Friday need to consider how to provide an omnichannel experience. In some cases, business leaders should also consider adding additional services like shipping products from a select store or returning to any store the customer chooses.

The importance of omnichannel retailing cannot be underestimated. One survey from Harvard Business Review found that though just 7% of customers shopped exclusively online, 73% actively moved across multiple channels, favouring both in-store and online experiences. The omnichannel customers liked to use multiple touchpoints with brands and were also keen users of in-store digital tools like price checkers and interactive catalogues.

In short, the new generation of consumers can flexibly move from in-store purchases to shopping online. However, despite this move towards online purchases, they still predominantly shop in-store – over half of digital-savvy consumers still choose to shop in-store, with 49% of consumers valuing being able to visit showrooms and then purchase those products online. This means that you need to prioritise store solutions as much as online and omnichannel retailing.

Generation Z consumers are also more likely to be concerned with the environmental impact of their purchases. With COP26 – the UN’s Climate Change Conference – having just ended, fashion retailers are just one of the industries committing to store solutions that prioritise sustainability. Thanks to the pandemic and the global spotlight on climate change, six out of ten Gen Z consumers are more conscious about the items that they buy.

Last year, we examined the recommerce and rental trend among retailers, predicting that it would be one of the biggest retail trends of this year. While consumers are driving demand for a circular economy, bringing a recommerce environment to stores brings its own unique challenges. The most complicated of these challenges is how to track a large amount of unique inventory through the supply chain and into stores. One solution to this is RFID tagging, which when combined with the use of inventory software can give retailers more accurate stock counts.

So, what does all this mean? Primarily, it shows that businesses should prepare performance solutions for Black Friday that prioritise the customers of the future – shoppers who want uncompromised accessibility to products wherever they are and new ways to purchase and return their products.

How to Navigate the Challenges of a Volatile Retail Environment

Most importantly, newly implemented performance solutions for Black Friday should tackle how to outperform this year, but also in years to come. Reliance on digital products like inventory software and AI will only increase in the retail space, and businesses that anticipate this will get ahead of the competition. For example, RFID is experiencing what McKinsey is calling a ‘renaissance’ in retail, with technology costs having fallen while new innovations mean even more cost-saving benefits for retailers.

With just a couple of weeks to go, some businesses may not be ready to implement new performance solutions for Black Friday. However, Christmas is also just around the corner, providing another chance to outperform before the end of the year. While January sales don’t reach the same peak as Black Friday – when businesses often make up to 20% of their sales revenue for the entire year – they are still valuable.

Technology and Analytics

Digital transformation is a crucial phrase for retailers when it comes to tackling periods of uncertainty. Still, performance solutions for Black Friday that focus on innovative technology can offer retailers the chance to outperform competitors.

Retailers that harness solutions like predictive customer analytics will know exactly what consumers are looking for and which products might be most in demand during Black Friday and Christmas shopping. Retailers who employ AI have seen a collective $40 billion worth of additional revenue over a three-year period.

Inventory software is another innovation that will make busy shopping periods more seamless for retailers, with 46% of companies having already implemented RFID as a reaction to the pandemic. We know that use of RFID will only increase, making it a promising performance solution for Black Friday for retailers to consider.

Re-imagining the Brick-and-mortar Shop

The pandemic has dramatically accelerated the pace of digital transformation in retail supply chains and stores. Over just a few months during the pandemic, executives have implemented close to three or four years of digital innovation in their companies.

Globally, 58% of business interactions with customers are now digital, an acceleration of three years compared with the average year-on-year increase. Consequently, businesses who want to implement successful performance solutions for Black Friday will inevitably turn to technology.

However, it’s also true that consumers may harbour anxiety around shopping in-store for some time. Though it’s unlikely that measures like one-way floor plans and plexiglass screens will stay in place for much longer, retailers will need to reimagine the in-store experience with the consequences of the pandemic in mind.

This might include incorporating aspects of digital experience in physical stores, such as intelligent AI personal shoppers on the customer’s phone or digital mirrors in changing rooms that can provide product recommendations in real-time. These store solutions will reimagine the pre-pandemic store, and take advantage of digital innovations that customers will be seeking in the future.

Omnichannel Retail

Perhaps the biggest retail solution has to be the shift towards omnichannel retailing. Stores can no longer solely exist in a physical or online space but a combination of the two. It turns out that omnichannel customers are also more valuable for businesses, spending on average 4% more on every shopping occasion in store and 10% more online than the average single-channel customer.

We know that consumers want omnichannel experiences, but implementing a performance solution for Black Friday that incorporates this may be more difficult. Inventory software like RFID tags is one solution, offering retailers a way to track stock across the supply chain, both in warehouses and online.

RFID as a Performance Solution for Black Friday

Especially at times of increased volatility and demand, more accurate stock inventory is one of the easiest ways to improve your company’s performance. This is even more important right now when supply chain issues make it more difficult to get an accurate picture of your inventory. Inventory software is the ideal performance solution for Black Friday, offering retailers an accurate picture of stock and the ability to navigate periods of increased demand successfully.

Preventing Out-of-stock Notices

Research from RetailEXPO has revealed that 31% of customers want retail employees to help them with out-of-stocks. This is crucial during Black Friday when demand will be higher, and customers may be looking for specific items in sales. Retailers who have adopted inventory software like RFID will be more likely to uncover new stock, having insights into where the same shipments and products are in their supply chain journey.

Omnichannel Retailing

While there will be an increased number of shoppers heading to physical stores this year, many Black Friday shoppers will still resort to online purchases. RFID easily allows retailers to keep track of stock across online and in-store sales and offer customers the chance to pick up their purchases in-store. As reliance on a mix of channels grows, inventory software is crucial to accurately track stock, increasing performance during times of increased demand like Black Friday.

Detego’s all-in-one retail solution gives you the tools to command complete transparency over your supply chain and inventory. We harness the power of RFID alongside an end-to-end SaaS inventory software platform that improves inventory accuracy.

Detego Retail Store Application

Cloud-hosted RFID software

Stock accuracy, on-floor availability, and omnichannel applications in stores.

Book a demo with RFID to find out how our cloud-hosted RFID solution could help you outperform during busy sales periods. Our multi-user app can provide intelligent stock takes and a smart in-store replenishment process and later, you can scale the solution to offer omnichannel services and effectively manage your entire store operations with real-time, item-level inventory visibility and analytics.

Learn how to elevate customer experience, build smarter operations, and optimize your inventory with Detego software and Zebra's retail-ready hardware solutions.
The grey market and parallel imports can have drastic consequences for retailers, especially when it comes to their brand value. Is RFID for retail the answer?
Retailers are increasingly looking for new ways to make their operations more environmentally friendly, and RFID for sustainable fashion retail is one of the solutions.

Detego and Microsoft partnered on this retail success story.

How an iconic British fashion brand and retail store chain successfully increased the availability of items in-store while improving the customer experience.

“It was also around gaining visibility for our omnichannel journey. If you look at those as different challenges, RFID provided a solution that enabled us to use technology to enhance all that.”

Complete the form below to download the case study.

This year’s Christmas period will be unlike the ones before. With retailers just recovering from or still grappling with supply chain issues and facing potential staff shortages caused by Coronavirus and other extenuating circumstances, it’s going to be more difficult to hit yearly KPIs.

However, the retail forecast for the final quarter of the year still looks promising. Deloitte predicts that holiday sales will grow by 7% to 9% compared with the same period last year, and retailers should focus on taking advantage of consumer demand this Christmas. While retailers can expect high demand for products this year, there are additional ways you can improve store performance.

Not only do physical retailers have to compete with online purchases in the run-up to Christmas, but there is also increased pressure to make up for any lost performance from earlier this year due to the dual crises of the pandemic and supply chain problems.

There are many retail solutions for improving store performance, ranging from implementing omnichannel marketing to improving customer service. Most store solutions come down to accurate inventory counts. Knowing the stock you have, where shipments are, and what products you can offer the consumer will inevitably improve the customer experience and your overall store performance this Christmas. For this reason, you should consider retail solutions like inventory software as part of a strategy to improve performance.

Our suggestions for store solutions are just a start. To successfully improve store performance this Christmas, retailers should take a 360-degree view of their operations, from their supply chain to stock replenishment and customer expectations of their store. Inventory software like RFID tags will go a long way to tackling some of these issues.

While a switch to digital inventory solutions will take time and training to implement successfully, it’s a long-term solution that will protect retailers against future supply chain issues and ensure optimal customer satisfaction in your stores.

A difficult Time for Retailers

If your store is struggling to reach its KPIs this year, you’re not alone. Supply chain issues – partly caused by the Coronavirus crisis – have made it more difficult for stores to get the stock they need this year, leading to reduced sales and performance.

These issues exist all the way through the supply chain and are not limited to one geographical region or country. Around 38% of ocean freight was delivered on time this year, half of last year’s total. Consequently, prices for raw materials and delivery are rising, on top of increased demand from retailers for their stock.

Stores experiencing a drop in their stock availability are already witnessing the effects on their total profits this year. Maternity wear retailer Seraphine reported lower stock holdings from July onwards, which meant they couldn’t satisfy customer demand in-store. Consequently, the retailer now predicts a 15% reduction in profits compared to last year.

As demand for products increases in the run-up to Christmas, many retailers are consequently over-ordering or placing retail orders too early to get their stock inventory back to normal levels. But this is far from an ideal retail solution and creates issues further up the supply chain for raw materials manufacturers.

Stores that can anticipate stock issues and respond to them quickly will have a better chance of weathering the supply chain crisis and improving their performance – which is more important than ever as the retail sector prepares for increased demand over Christmas. To do this, retailers should take advantage of inventory software.

The importance of inventory accuracy 

There are many ways to improve store performance, from focusing on the overall customer experience to automation and omnichannel marketing. Most of these store solutions have in common, though, is the problem of accurate stock inventory. If retailers are going to recover from the ongoing supply chain crisis successfully, then a 360-degree view of operations and stock levels is crucial – and inventory software can help you do this.

Tracking and cataloguing store inventory isn’t limited to the shop floor. Retailers must have a broad view of their inventory from the end of the manufacturing process to when a shipment arrives at the store warehouse. Tracking such a large amount of stock – for some retailers, this can mean processing 70,000 items in just a few months – requires its own digital solutions, which can take time to implement. However, the impact of such inventory software is significant.

Missing stock on the shop floor is a massive problem for physical retailers, especially in the wake of supply chain issues. The digital age has transformed customer expectations, meaning that physical stores must compete with online retailers. Now, if customers are disappointed by product availability in-store, their solution is to order the same product online.

To put this into perspective, 75% of millennial shoppers leave a store without a purchase instead, buying that item online. The main reason for this? It’s encountering out-of-stock items in the store.

Accurate stock inventory is also key to providing a successful omnichannel customer experience. Especially in the busy Christmas period, customers will be looking for flexibility in the shopping process, including options to collect their products in-store, order online for in-store pick-up, and even in-store ordering to their home. This omnichannel approach to the shopping process inevitably increases the chance of a successful sale and makes the entire experience effortless for the customer.

In all of these cases, inventory software is the tool that will enable retailers to have a broad view of their entire stock inventory, from warehouse to shop floor. Technology like RFID can transform your strategy to retailing by making it easier to perform stock counts, track products across the shop floor, and make informed decisions about your retail strategy

Why RFID is thriving

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) has fast-evolved from a technology used at the fringes of retail, to a global technology that is delivering business results to retailers everywhere.

According to a recent study published by Accenture:

  • The majority of retailers (80%) said the benefits of RFID cannot be replicated by another technology.

When fitted to a product at the manufacturing stage, an RFID tag will send continuous data to a reader as long as it is in range. This tag removes the need for laborious stock taking with a barcode scanner, as the reader will scan everything in range and catalogue it – even if the product is in a boxed shipment.

Used alongside inventory software, RFID can produce accurate stock counts, track stock from the factory to the warehouse, and work alongside other technology in-store to create a personalised experience for customers.

With accurate stock counts becoming more important as the busy Christmas period arrives, inventory software like RFID is a valuable store solution that can easily improve your store’s performance.

How Inventory Software Can Improve Store Performance

With a digital inventory solution like RFID, retailers can solve the problem of inaccurate stock counts, which become even more important during times of increased consumer demand. It can also improve the omnichannel customer experience by giving consumers more transparency about where products are and how they can purchase them – all of which will improve your store performance in the long run.

Keeping Shelves Fully-stocked

We know that one of the biggest problems for retailers is keeping shelves fully stocked and the consequences of out-of-stock products. While you can expect some stock disruption with supply chain problems, RFID can alleviate some customer pain by ensuring shop floors are as full as they can be under the circumstances.

This digital store solution will allow you to take frequent inventory counts – up to twice a day, compared to the average of once or twice a year. When used with inventory software, you can also get on-time recommendations for which products to refresh on the shop floor, ensuring that no customer ever leaves disappointed.

inventory disruption

This digital store solution will allow you to take frequent inventory counts – up to twice a day, compared to the average of once or twice a year. When used with inventory software, you can also get on-time recommendations for which products to refresh on the shop floor, ensuring that no customer ever leaves disappointed.

Improving the In-store Customer Experience 

Nowadays, customers want more from their physical stores. Whether that’s more personalised recommendations from staff, virtual shop assistants, or interactivity in-store, RFID can help you do this.

RFID tags can work with other innovative technology like smart fitting room mirrors to offer personalised product recommendations for customers while shopping in your store. When a customer takes a product fitted with an RFID tag to a fitting room, the product’s unique code is read, and the product is displayed on the smart mirror, alongside similar products that the customer may like to try. There may also be the option to request products while in the fitting room, making the shopping experience more seamless for the consumer.

Producing Accurate Data  

For retailers to successfully navigate the increased demands of the Christmas period and ultimately improve performance, accurate data is crucial. RFID is a digital tool that provides real-time data about stock levels and makes suggestions about managing inventory better.

Instead of relying on historical data for your in-store stock decisions, RFID gives you the tools to make informed decisions about your store. From stock availability to automated refills and data on dwell times, this inventory software will improve performance in your store through more accurate insights.

Offering Omnichannel Retailing

It’s no longer a battle between brick-and-mortar stores versus online, but most retailers are a hybrid of both. This means that your stock inventory needs to be more precise and accurate,  reflecting both your in-store availability as well as online, so customers can get exactly what they want whether they’re in-store or at home. The key to omnichannel retailing is ensuring there are enough options for your customers – whether they want to pick their product up in-store, order it to their home, or return it to a different store, there should be a retail solution for that. For this to work, retailers need an accurate view of their stock counts and where stock is at all times. By utilising RFID with all-in-one inventory software, you can achieve up to 99% stock accuracy, meaning the customer is never disappointed by out-of-stock notices or unavailable shipping.

Why You Should Invest in Inventory Software now

Retailers gear up for increased consumer demand, inventory software and RFID can be a valuable retail solution in the run-up to Christmas by eliminating labour-intensive stock counts and improving stock visibility from warehouse to shop floor.

Retailers are increasingly investing in inventory software like RFID to streamline their supply chains. In the US, investment in retail technology has reached $8.6 billion, reflecting its value as a store performance solution. It’s a similar story in the UK, where technology like inventory software could uplift £21 billion to the retail sector.

Not only will more accurate inventory information make your operations more effortless and reduce labour requirements, but it will inevitably improve store performance. You can use a store solution like RFID to strengthen omnichannel retailing and provide increased personalisation in-store, leading to more opportunities for sales. Ultimately, RFID is an ideal retail solution for periods of increased demand, such as the run-up to Christmas.

Detego is the only all-in-one retail solution on the market, utilising RFID alongside a complete end-to-end SaaS platform to improve your inventory accuracy. From stocktaking and stock replenishment to tagging, our inventory software can handle it all, reducing the chances of human error and increasing opportunities for sales in your stores

Detego Retail Store Application

Cloud-hosted RFID software

Stock accuracy, on-floor availability, and omnichannel applications in stores.

Detego Store is a cloud-hosted RFID solution which digitises stock management processes, making them more efficient and more accurate. Implemented within hours, our multi-user app can provide intelligent stock takes and a smart in-store replenishment process. Later, you can scale the solution to offer omnichannel services and effectively manage your entire store operations with real-time, item-level inventory visibility and analytics.

Learn how to elevate customer experience, build smarter operations, and optimize your inventory with Detego software and Zebra's retail-ready hardware solutions.
The grey market and parallel imports can have drastic consequences for retailers, especially when it comes to their brand value. Is RFID for retail the answer?
Retailers are increasingly looking for new ways to make their operations more environmentally friendly, and RFID for sustainable fashion retail is one of the solutions.

Managing inventory levels is more vital now than ever before.  

At the same time that out-of-season stagnant stock sits untouched in warehouses, desirable inventory is increasingly becoming short in supply on shopfloors. In fact, when slow-moving stock can still make up to 40% of a retailers inventory, it seems strange that the current shortage of goods is reportedly here to stay. But taking this juxtaposition into account, it’s not hard to predict that many more retailers will be feeling the strain of simultaneously being overstocked and out-of-stocked as the holiday season approaches.  

At a time when struggling businesses could stand to increase revenue drastically, they will have to be more strategically minded, optimising the distribution of limited inventory and harnessing emerging opportunities to turn obsolete stock into profit. In order to do this, however, retailers will need to actively seek to improve their loss prevention processes as every item of stock – even obsolete inventory – becomes increasingly more vital to lifting the bottom line.

The Impact of Inventory Loss in the Post-Pandemic Environment

Due to the heightening imbalance of desirable and undesirable stock, it is no exaggeration to say that within the grand scheme of a retailer’s operation, even a single piece of inventory can drastically impact a business’s opportunity to make money or lose it.  

For instance, with the circular economy booming, the slow-moving stock is increasingly being repurposed to recuperate costs, while inaccurate real-time product availability of popular goods could negatively hinder a retailer’s ability to build omnichannel relationships with customers.  

That is why shrinkage – when a business loses inventory for reasons other than sales – is a driving issue for retailers and one that looks to exasperate the inventory challenges already at play.  

Last year, shrinkage cost the US retail market $61.7 billion, and as supply chain disruptions continue, retailers will increasingly need to tighten their control over assets at an item-level scope, especially now that their distribution strategies are influenced by localised demand for particular product categories, styles, and sizes as customers continue to expect personalised and immediate services. 

But to facilitate this level of customer service, improvements to inventory management must be made that prioritises precise inventory tracking and agile loss prevention.  

Causes of Shrinkage are Becoming Increasingly Complex

To improve their loss prevention strategies, retailers must get to the root of the current shrinkage causes that are growing more wicked in nature due to inventory touch-points multiplying at speed. Here we explore the most coming reasons for stock loss in retail and why they are challenging businesses today: 

  1. Returns Fraud 

Social media has contentiously given rise to the trend that it’s “unfashionable” to be photographed in the same outfit twice, leading to a growing community of serial returners who consistently purchase fashion products, wear them once or twice and then return them. And as social commerce grows –generating more and more omnichannel touchpoints – so do the opportunities for fraudulent returns within this growing trend. Last year, scams involving the returns of products already cost retailers $43 billion, and in this year’s National Retail Security Survey 2021, retail companies reported that multichannel sales had created the most significant increase in fraud this year.

As customers continue to purchase online and then pick up orders in-store and vice-versa, the challenge for retailers is that they must cater to the growing demographic of digitally literate consumers who now move between online and physical touchpoints whilst implementing inventory traceability. Because if not adequately managed, omnichannel can open up opportunities for stock loss, with fraudsters taking advantage of any discontinuity between online and offline returns processes.  

2. Shoplifting  

Even with mandated closures for much of the year, 2020 saw UK retailers lose over £770 million from shoplifting alone. So now, with physical stores firmly back open, shoplifting has re-emerged as a critical challenge of retailers who are hoping to turn these spaces from loss-leaders to optimal environments for customer engagement.  

Criminal activity in stores, however, not only poses a threat to the bottom lines of these operations but can also negatively impact the experiences of customers and employees. Especially now that many companies have begun to take a stronger social stance towards the wellness of their workforces. Retailers must from now on empower employees to handle shoplifting efficiently, confidently, and safely.  

3. Employee Theft  

Global employee theft is predicted to cost retailers 2.9 trillion annually and accounts for 28% of inventory loss, with physical goods most likely to be stolen from the workplace. Viewed as an epidemic within the retail ecosystem, there are many diverse existing approaches to loss prevention, from behavioural focused strategies such as staff recruitment and training processes to physical deterrents such as CCTV and POS data mining.  

Product visibility is non-negotiable for retailers embracing omnichannel

The challenge for retailers who are tackling employee theft, however, is in how to build a connected and holistic solution that improves workforce attitudes and culture towards stealing, reduces opportunities for theft and at the same time incentivises them to become active players in inventory protection.  

  1. Damages 

It goes without saying that damages to inventory are inevitable. As goods that are often journeying to far-reaching locations, wear and tear in transit is to be expected and – although not ideal – retailers commonly anticipate this reality and reflect it within their financial accounting. At a time, however, where in-demand stock is in short supply, damages to assets is being viewed as a growing nuisance that, whilst wholly unavoidable, should be dramatically reduced.  

But it is the reporting of damaged goods that should be a significant concern for businesses. Again, as consumer sentiments move towards fast fulfilment, retailers will need to have precise real-time insight into stock availability, and its location, yet unaccounted for damaged items can sabotage a business’s ability to carry out effective customer services.  

  1. Administrative and Supplier Error or Fraud 

Error or fraud in the reporting of inventory levels is a severe problem that multiple stakeholders can enact at any given time. It is vital to a retailer’s bottom-line that delivery of goods from vendors is 100% correct at the time of receipt. Whether intentional or not, incorrect data from suppliers could have knock-on effects throughout the supply chain down to stocktake on a shop-floor and incorrect e-commerce order fulfilment.  

At the same time, what could seem like minor mistakes such as pricing or labelling errors can snowball into significantly lost profit, lapses in customer satisfaction, and employee frustration. And in fact, administrative and paperwork errors can account for 18.8% of annual shrinkage. In order to mitigate these errors, retailers must begin to explore how inventory data can be communicated correctly and consistently throughout these various internal touchpoints

Why Current Methods of Loss Prevention can Lack Long-Lasting Results 

Loss prevention has to date, been an issue of high importance for the retail sector. Still, the recent acceleration of technology adoption has provided a window into the efficiency that digital-driven supply chain management presents. While current loss prevention methods are year-on-year, reducing the cost of lost goods, these solutions can often lack depth and breadth as they operate in silos from one another. 

Additionally, many of these existing strategies, such as alarms and armoured cars – while effective – predominantly focus on mitigating the loss of large quantities of stock rather than at the item-level that is becoming increasingly important. At the same time, they often do not account for reducing back-end administrative fraud and errors such as incorrect delivery dockets.  

It is, therefore, critical that continuity of information is built into future loss prevention strategies so that goods are traced throughout the entire supply chain, and long-term improvements can be implemented.  

How RFID Can Prevent Shrinkage in One Simple Solution 

Smart-Shelving  

RFID’s ability to help retailers monitor how customers interact with their products to improve personalisation and recommendation in stores can subsequently work in favour of loss prevention. For example, RFID enabled smart shelving sends a trigger to employees whenever stock is low and can help report real-time anomalies of inventory movement and location tracking.  

The technology’s ability to send stock quantities and location information to multiple stakeholders in stores, head-office and warehouses could act as a significant dissuade employees hoping to isolate incidents of theft. Additionally, the simple existence of an item-level RFID tag can act as an effective deterrent to shoplifters.  

Returns Processing  

Due to RFID being able to trace inventory throughout the entire supply chain, this software can act as a journal for any product, providing evidence of where it has been before being returned into a retailer’s ecosystem. In turn, this can allow businesses to identify where returns fraud is happening and assess where the weaknesses are in their returns process.  

Data collected can also provide insight into the kinds of products experiencing serial returns and investigate if this is down to poor quality, fit, or even if the item is highly “Instagramable” rather than wearable. These are all essential datasets that can be fed back to designers, marketers and manufacturers who can, in turn, look to reduce the reason for returns within their roles.  

Automated Real-Time Updates 

The automated updates that RFID provides allow companies to manage inventory with more connectivity within their operations. Unfortunately, inconsistent communication between the complex and isolated processes within retail operations has for a long time provided the opportunity for administrative, human errors and fraud.  

RFID simplifies communication and allows warehouses, distribution centres, and stores to correlate physical stock against digital information at the item level. Additionally, RFID removes chances for vendors and employees to tamper with data and falsify information.  

RFID Can Makes Data-Driven Loss Prevention a Reality 

Not only can RFID act as a deterrent, but it can also help businesses to build resilient future strategies that reduce the causes of inventory loss at the source.  

As an offshoot of the all-important supply chain transparency we discussed last month and item-level visibility the retail sector still struggles to enforce, RFID’s ability to deliver data-driven insights and pinpoint precisely where inventory loss occurs is highly valuable for highlighting areas for improvement within the supply chain and possibly uncovering reasons for the unattributed loss.  

 

 

Book a demo with Detego today to see how our inventory transparency software can help you tackle loss prevention challenges.  

Detego Retail Store Application

Cloud-hosted RFID software

Stock accuracy, on-floor availability, and omnichannel applications in stores.

Detego Store is a cloud-hosted RFID solution which digitises stock management processes, making them more efficient and more accurate. Implemented within hours, our multi-user app can provide intelligent stock takes and a smart in-store replenishment process. Later, you can scale the solution to offer omnichannel services and effectively manage your entire store operations with real-time, item-level inventory visibility and analytics.

Learn how to elevate customer experience, build smarter operations, and optimize your inventory with Detego software and Zebra's retail-ready hardware solutions.
The grey market and parallel imports can have drastic consequences for retailers, especially when it comes to their brand value. Is RFID for retail the answer?
Retailers are increasingly looking for new ways to make their operations more environmentally friendly, and RFID for sustainable fashion retail is one of the solutions.

Consumer mindsets are evolving at an accelerating pace.

While it wasn’t long ago that shoppers could be satisfied receiving the tiniest of details from a product’s journey before it came into their possession, years of unsustainable and unethical practices within retail supply chains have begun to tarnish the relationships between businesses and their customers.

Understandably, customers are increasingly demanding that the traditionally opaque supply chains that serve them are made more visible – and they’re using their wallets to back and promote these values. As a result, power has shifted, and unless retailers want to become obsolete, ignorance and dishonesty must be replaced with clarity and accountability.

Especially since — over the past 18 months — the pandemic has intensified this scrutiny, and it seems that now, for retailers to survive, they must relinquish their use of transparency as a novel marketing strategy and view it as a necessary process to be implemented into everything they do.

Transparency as a marketing tool is nothing new, businesses have been branding their performance as a method of storytelling that highlights their morality and pulls audiences in for a while now.  Greenwashing, however, has become a concerning result of this trend, with companies picking and choosing what to report and positioning their activities in a positive light.

In fact, in the Business of Fashion’s and McKinsey & Company’s The State of Fashion 2020 report, almost 20% of executives claim that radical transparency is one of the top three themes impacting their business due to changing consumer desire for genuine and clear information.

What Does a Radically Transparent Supply Chain Look Like?

Radical transparency defines the complete disclosure of information at every link of a retailers supply chain. This includes everything from the sourcing of raw materials, water usage in textiles dying, factory working conditions, the environmental impact of goods distribution, and customer care instructions.

In the past few years, many organisations have led the charge regarding supply chain clarity. For example, in just the apparel sector exists Fashion revolution Eco-Age and  Good on you – all of which currently hold fashion retailers accountable over the impact of their supply chains by taking different approaches to the promotion of reporting.

And reporting is the cornerstone of supply chain transparency, providing a window into the practice’s businesses abide by. H&M — leaders in supply chain transparency — are among many retailers who have aligned their manufacturing reporting with Transparency Pledge Reformation takes this a step further, making the environmental impact and traceability of their products public.

Yet, the widespread adoption of end-to-end supply chain clarity is limited and slow. While most businesses have begun to embed transparency into their internal operations and with direct suppliers, processes beyond their control – for the most part – remain opaque.

As a result, the companies that can trace their products’ raw materials are categorised as pioneers of supply chain transparency, whilst businesses that can track the activities of their indirect suppliers are ahead of the curve. Yet, for the majority of companies, moving towards full disclosure reporting can seem like an impossibly far milestone to reach. Nonetheless, it is one they must begin striving towards now.

Why Prioritise Transparency Now?

While many retailers readily look to improve their supply chain transparency, for many others, full-disclosure reporting is a practice being pressured upon them by both direct and indirect stakeholders. These different parties desire open and honest information for various reasons. Here we discuss the mindsets of these stakeholders and explore the reasons behind their demands for radical supply chain transparency:

1. Customers

The post-pandemic retail sector is filled with innovation that attracts the re-emerged consumer whose activism has been heightened by COVID-19. Multiple lockdowns had given the world time to re-evaluate its values, especially when last year, there was no good excuse to look away from societal issues that took the world stage, such as climate emergencies, poor factory conditions, and racial injustice. As a result, contemporary consumers are more scrutinising now than ever before and want the businesses they shop with to take accountability when problems within their internal operations are uncovered.

Sustainable and Ethical Practice:

It is arguably customers who drive retail’s interest for heightened clarity through their passion for advocating brands with sustainable products and ethical operations. In fact, 64% of shoppers look for ethical or sustainable features when making a purchase, and according to researchers at MIT Sloan School of Management, they may be willing to pay 2% to 10% more for products from companies that provide greater supply chain transparency.

In being able to see the impact of their purchases more clearly, customers are not only able to build trust with a retailer but become more assured that their own behaviours align with the values they hold.

Omnichannel:

Customer-centricity is key to post-pandemic supply chain success as demand for goods becomes increasingly uncertain and erratically patterned. The growth of omnichannel means that shoppers expect retailers to cater to them at the physical and digital touchpoints they more fluidly move between in the wake of the pandemic.

By improving the transparency of their supply chains, retailers could much more readily provide the services created by the omnichannel shopping experience, such as real-time inventory visibility and same-day delivery fuelled by digitisation.

Seven building blocs omnichannel

2. Employees

Employees are core stakeholders that the shift towards transparency would most impact. Making their working environments unambiguous and their everyday tasks clear to external audiences allows employees, customers and investors to hold retailers accountable in a public domain.

Welfare: According to Anti-Slavery International, there are 16 million people trapped in forced labour within the supply chains of businesses that supply our goods and services. Supply chain transparency is a small step to providing workers more protection over workplace conditions, wages, and personal agency, helping mitigate the risk of external suppliers taking advantage of labour in the sector.

As a result, by enhancing supply chain transparency, businesses are able to track the social impact of their operations and shine a light on grey areas within their own chains that they may not have complete control over.

3. Investors

Last year, Boohoo lost more than 1.5 billion euros in market value after it was uncovered that workers manufacturing their products earned less than minimum wage in poor working conditions. So making it clear that now more than ever, customers aligning their purchases with their values will have a tangible impact on revenue.

Return on Investment: For investors, the intrinsic link between supply chain controversy and loss in market value is a concerning risk. For example, violations in ESG practices were estimated to have erased almost half a trillion dollars’ worth of value from public companies from 2015 to 2019. ESG stands for environment, social and governance. All three domains increasingly feed into an investors decision to back a company beyond financial projections.

So, with investors progressively looking to work with businesses that have a positive impact, transparency is a firm method of proving compliance with every step of the EGS chain that can easily be mapped to the supply chain.

ISG_ESG

Transparency and Visibility: One Cannot Exist Without the Other

Now that we have made a case for supply chain transparency, there is still the question of how these typically tangled and murky operations can become crystal clear when only 13% of retail executives currently describe having end-to-end visibility.

Although often and mistakenly interchanged for one another, transparency and visibility are two separate concepts when it comes to supply chains, but for retailers, one cannot exist without the other. Therefore, if retailers are to make their supply chains more transparent, they must first be made more visible.

Implementing RFID technology can help provide retailers with unparalleled inventory tracking. By tracing stock at item-level from the factory to warehouse to shop floor, RFID can help retailers improve sustainable and ethical practices within their operations in the following ways:

Post-Purchase Care: By recording raw materials, RFID can assist retailers in tracking the origins of their products and enables them to have a longer life by tracing their composition and helping owners care for their items better.

Carbon Footprint Tracking: RFID technology can follow inventory at item-level at every step of their journey, allowing businesses to calculate the environmental impact of every individual product and correctly offset it.

Workload Easing: RFID also helps retailers ease the strain of workload within factories and distribution centres by taking the place of manual tasks such as stocktake and locating lost items.

Excess Inventory: Limiting the risk of waste products, RFID can help retailers monitor stock and manage future orders with these insights by distributing inventory to locations with high demand or designing a new collection whilst avoiding the features of underperforming products.

Manufacturing Conditions and Compliance: Tracking products back to their production source allows stakeholders to hold retailers accountable if the working conditions and practices of their internal and external factories are below standards.

Implementing Radical Change 

Although organisational resistance to change is weakening, according to a recent survey by Accenture, 94% of experts said there is still no obvious effort to align the organisation’s culture with the goals of the change they intended to create. Yet the fact is, supply chains need to become radically more transparent, whether retail wants to embrace it or not.

The pandemic has exemplified change as an uncomfortable yet vital feature of business survival, and technology has been the great enabler for catalysing operational honesty and transparent reporting. But there is still much more to be done. End-to-end transparency is still a rarity, and retailers will need to push forward to experience the benefits of stakeholder satisfaction.

Book a consultation with Detego today to discover how RFID can help your organisation implement lasting and radical change through increased visibility.

Detego Warehouse Software

Cloud-hosted RFID software

The digital supply chain

Detego’s RFID-based warehouse software enables retailers to automate and dramatically improve their receiving, picking/packing and shipping processes in factories and/or distribution centres. These steps are vital parts of an end-to-end RFID solution, providing full visibility across the entire supply chain.

Learn how to elevate customer experience, build smarter operations, and optimize your inventory with Detego software and Zebra's retail-ready hardware solutions.
The grey market and parallel imports can have drastic consequences for retailers, especially when it comes to their brand value. Is RFID for retail the answer?
Retailers are increasingly looking for new ways to make their operations more environmentally friendly, and RFID for sustainable fashion retail is one of the solutions.

Retail’s warehouse management systems are currently in a state of flux.   

Supply chains are in crisis, consumer demands are unpredictably fluctuating, and labour shortages have reached historic heights – all disrupting the sector’s ability to fulfil even the basics of their supply and demand propositions.   

Pair these challenges with the current e-commerce boom, and the result is a pivotal moment in time for the reinvention of retail logistics. In fact, investment in UK warehouses has already exceeded £6 billion this year, while the global warehouse automation market is expected to reach $30.99 billion by 2025.   

Warehouses and distribution centres are undeniably the backbones of any retail operation, as departments that control the delivery of goods to consumers who — from their fingertips — expect accurate, timely, and efficient services regardless of what obstacles a retailer faces that week.  

But to meet expectations, businesses must focus not just on sharpening their warehouse operations but also welcoming change and catalysing it into an opportunity for strategic innovation. 

The Changing Models of Warehouses and Distribution Centers

Innovation within warehouse management is not just limited to improving tried and tested processes with technology. It is currently ripping up legacy systems as we know them and completely rethinking how the departments can be designed, fit for — post-pandemic — purpose.  

Here we explore several new big-picture strategies that entirely remodel the way warehouses and distribution centres have traditionally functioned:  

Micro-Warehousing 

The tandem rise of e-commerce and consumer expectation for fast and efficient home delivery has inspired retailers to decentralise their once mammoth hubs and create physically segregated yet digitally connected operations through micro-warehousing. 

Micro-warehouses and fulfilment centres allow retailers to house stock closer to their customer communities, enabling same-day delivery and click-and-collect services. They also help businesses optimise underutilised brick-and-mortar presences by repositioning them as dark stores — that exclusively cater to online purchases.

Distribution and Warehousing as a Service (DaaSWaaS)

With companies facing new and unexpected obstacles every day, it’s no surprise the that B2B service market is booming. One of the latest propositions the retail sector is testing out is DaaS and WaaS.  

Such services enable businesses to outsource these essential departments, radically shifting the strain of dealing with challenges like supply chain disruptions and labour shortages onto external partners who are better equipped to overcome such hurdles. Using WaaS and DaaS is a gamechanger for small and big businesses, assisting SMEs to manage quick growth without risking capital and helping large enterprises focus on other business activities without the distractions of logistical nightmares.

On-Demand Warehousing

With customer demand for goods straying away from typical timelines, businesses are increasingly unsure of how they will adapt to surging trends that follow no predetermined calendar. That is why on-demand warehouse services are becoming more popular.  

On-demand warehouse platforms help retailers to find the perfect spaces for their immediate and short-term needs. This setup works with the fluidity of the global retail market, allowing companies to respond to rapid fluctuations, pilot stock with entirely new customer bases, and cater to unexpected peaks in demand – all while removing long-term and rigid contracts.

Digital Warehouse Twinning 

If retail has learnt anything over the past 18 months, it’s that preparing for every unexpected eventuality is vital. That is why businesses are beginning to use technology to better their foresight.  

Digital warehouse twinning is currently experiencing an uptick in use with retailers and is predicted to provide a 20%-25% uplift in efficiency. By building a digital twin of their warehouse, businesses can test new strategies and analyse the results of the operational changes they intend to make, all within a simulation. According to McKinsey & Company, this helps businesses make both big and small decisions — like floorplan redesigns and changes in workflow structures — without impacting the everyday functions of their warehouses.

The Future of Warehousing is Digital

Whether retailers intend to simply refine their existing warehouse processes or overhaul their models completely, it is no secret that digitisation will be embedded into the foundations of change.

Over the past 18 months, the adoption of technology has been essential for any business, helping them build agile, resilient, and responsive operations. And now, as retailers reflect upon their performance since the arrival of Covid-19, they’ve realised that quick decisions to implement innovation — once ideas born out of desperation — have grown in viability, becoming intrinsic to long-term strategies designed to help them succeed rather than just survive.

E-tailers like Amazon perfectly exemplify what it means to invest in cutting-edge innovation within warehouse operations whilst seeing a return on investment. For example, Amazon is known for their use of Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMR) to streamline logistics by picking and transporting stock without human supervision and integrating AI to predict inventory demand and help design floorplan navigations based on access needs. As a result, the industry leader in digital warehouse processes can deliver unapparelled levels of fulfilment across their global audiences.

Taking a step back and looking at the retail sector as a whole, technology adoption within warehousing is set to soar over the next 6 years as these innovations evolve from being championed by evangelists into recognised processes with quantifiable results. Because according to the  Harvard Business Review, there is plenty of room for improvement; 72% of companies believe their supply chain capabilities like warehousing and logistics to be digitally immature.

Technologies such as real-time data and inventory management are set to gain the most significant adoption rates in the next few years. And for good reason, the retail sector now knows that better stock visibility is necessary to make their activities intuitive to market volatility and shopper’s needs.

Adoption_rate_article_september_detego

Why RFID is a One-Stop Solution for Operating a Warehouse with a Far-Reaching Impact

RFID technology provides real-time insights into inventory that currently helps retailers to solve many diverse challenges at once. Here we explore why integrating RFID into warehouses can allow businesses to achieve – what at first seem like wholly unconnected – business goals:

Creating Customer Loyalty

Building customer loyalty begins at the back-end of retail operations and not front-facing customer touchpoints. In fact, retail’s ramp-up of omnichannel – which has been firmly cemented as the go-to strategy for future success – has irreparably impacted how warehouses will need to function moving forward.

Delivering Fast Fulfilment through Product Transparency: When over 98% of shoppers claim delivery impacts their brand loyalty, shipping inaccuracies and delays are becoming a critical issue for retailers as demand for home delivery rises alongside e-commerce’s market takeover.

RFID’s ability to help businesses monitor inventory at item-level and in real-time means that product availability is becoming more accurate and automated as sales and returns are processed. As a result, companies can generate customer trust through the errorless communication of stock levels as they click-and-collect from stores and organise next-day delivery online.

Making Returns Easier with Shipping Accuracy: The rise of free returns policies has led to a mini-epidemic of high logistical costs and growing carbon emissions. In addition – according to the SOTI’S State of Mobility in Retail Report 2021 – over half of customers are unhappy with returns processes and want them made easier.

RFID reduces the risk of shipping mistakes by digitally automating the receipt of inbound goods to verify inventory and track individual stock pieces at every step of complex returns processes.

Sale Cycle report Detego

Reducing Costs and Optimising Efficiency

A rare new era of stagflation has arrived in the US and UK markets. Characterised by the inflation of prices, high unemployment – fuelled by “the great resignation” – and stagnant economic growth, industry experts, are wary of its long-term impact on the retail sector. As a result, retailers are becoming more cautious and considerate with every decision they make, hoping to reduce operational costs to keep prices low and demand high.

Managing Excess Stock through Inventory Protection: Slow-moving inventory has been a central problem for retail businesses, with the pandemic causing entire product categories such as evening-wear, holidays, and eating-out to become obsolete overnight. As a result, stagnating stock is a loss-leading problem that businesses are now beginning to tackle beyond outdated solutions such as seasonal sales, landfills and destruction.

RFID can help identify this stagnant inventory and trace its age and demand levels to inform how best to deal with stock in more sustainable ways. For example, the technology’s ability to trace individual goods back to manufacturers can additionally help to prove provenance as they enter resale markets.

Planning for the Future

Data is one of the most valuable assets a company can generate. It allows businesses to understand their customers on a granular level and trace what’s happening in their own ecosystems back to micro and macro market fluctuations. To plan more readily for the still unpredictable future, retailers are increasingly considering how to collect, connect and make sense of data to provide them with the best foresight.

Insights and Reporting through Label Printing:  If businesses want to gain reliable and real-time insight into their logistics, they will need to imbed digital touchpoints into many of their existing processes. Warehouses present the perfect opportunity to create these touchpoints and track the inventory’s onward journey.

Quick and easy printing of RFID labels within warehouses can help enterprises with limited budgets to focus their intel-gathering on the journeys of specific stock. This can also enable smart shelving  – a method of inventory visibility that allows retailers to trace customer engagement with stock as they pick it up and try it on. Insights generated this way help companies with everything from inventory planning to design development and visual merchandising.

Upskilling Workforces with easy RFID integration:  The labour shortages that still plague the retail sector means that companies are becoming increasingly committed to investing in upskilling their workforce and providing them better tools to carry out everyday tasks.

Today, many RFID solutions are designed to work effortlessly with warehousing software, meaning the technology seamlessly fits into existing workflows without disruption. As a result, it helps make picking and packing less time consuming and laborious and increases employee’s ability to adapt to digital advancements with confidence and satisfaction.

Everything and Anything is Possible with Cloud Technology

Warehouses are the heart of any retail operation. As such, refining the processes within the walls of this department presents the opportunity to make widespread improvements across an entire business. Yet, so many of these advancements will be made possible by cloud technology.

Cloud technology allows different departments to automate inventory updates and access information in real-time, connecting workflows and injecting continuity into communication. Implementing cloud-based solutions into warehousing will provide retailers with the freedom of choice to radically change their models or merely update manual processes with digital.

Detego is a cutting-edge platform in the RFID space that delivers impact within their easily implemented cloud solutions. Book a consultation with Detego today to find out how they can help your business improve its warehouse and distribution centre practices and take the first steps towards implementing strategic innovation.

Detego Retail Store Application

Cloud-hosted RFID software

Stock accuracy, on-floor availability, and omnichannel applications in stores.

Detego Store is a cloud-hosted RFID solution which digitises stock management processes, making them more efficient and more accurate. Implemented within hours, our multi-user app can provide intelligent stock takes and a smart in-store replenishment process. Later, you can scale the solution to offer omnichannel services and effectively manage your entire store operations with real-time, item-level inventory visibility and analytics.

Learn how to elevate customer experience, build smarter operations, and optimize your inventory with Detego software and Zebra's retail-ready hardware solutions.
The grey market and parallel imports can have drastic consequences for retailers, especially when it comes to their brand value. Is RFID for retail the answer?
Retailers are increasingly looking for new ways to make their operations more environmentally friendly, and RFID for sustainable fashion retail is one of the solutions.

Until recently, it has been relatively easy for consumers to take the smooth supply chains that serve them for granted.

But the pandemic’s continued impact on retail — generating tidal waves of disruptions — has demonstrated just how reliant contemporary customers are on frictionless and immediate delivery of goods.

In just the past three months, the retail sector has suffered the effects of everything from food shortagesfactory fires, to torrential weather. All of which have pushed supply chains to breaking point and — for many experts — have been the worst disruptions they have ever witnessed.

Every day, there are news reports of global brands running out of stock, failing to open stores and delaying the delivery of products, subsequently impairing their ability to provide the immediate gratification customers have come to expect from their shopping experiences.

So as the start of the next financial year swiftly approaches, retailers have begun to set their sights on investment in supply chain solutions to navigate future problems — and for a good reason — these challenges have created speed bumps in economic recovery, and according to ING, supply chain issues are here to stay.

However, if retailers have learned anything from the past 18 months, it is that these problems are not in silos of specific geographical locations, sectors, or product categories. Instead, they are an interconnected global web of causes and effects that — at the start of 2020 — retail had primarily been unprepared for. But the industry now knows that to survive, they must embed these lessons into their operations, strategically and efficiently.

Future Supply Chains: From Outdated Systems to Innovative Digital Solutions 

Research from 2018 found that visibility, fluctuating consumer demand, and inventory management were already some of the most concerning global supply chain issues.

So it comes as no surprise that the pandemic has not only exasperated these sizable problems, but it has exposed global supply chain operations as outdated processes that often create rather than remove points of immense friction.

But now, moving into a post-pandemic era, revisiting and adapting the legacy processes many supply chains operate upon will not be enough for retail’s survival. Instead, businesses within the sector must begin to consider the solutions confronting supply chain challenges in new and innovative ways designed to work in the world retailers are currently navigating.

Digitisation is central to how these kinds of solutions function, yet before Covid-19, only 15% of US retail businesses had entirely digitised their supply chain management processes, despite 60% of US retailers viewing supply chain digitisation as crucial. However, the acceleration of technology over the past 18 months has presented many opportunities for businesses to integrate these agile and efficient digital systems.

And as a result of the large number of technologies aiming to revolutionise the industry, the supply chain management market is estimated to reach USD 30.91 Billion by 2026.

Current Supply Chain Disruptions and their Emerging Solutions

Today, with supply chain disruptions varying in scope and scale, it is essential that before investments are made, retailers attempt to understand the impact of each problem at every stage of a product’s life cycle to decide upon the best solutions to invest in.

Here we explore the most significant supply chain challenges that retailers are currently and will continue to face alongside the innovative solutions helping to resolve them:

Unpredictable Customer Demands In an article just last month, we looked into the post-pandemic consumer and their unpredictable and ever-changing demands. Whilst uncertainty may be subsiding as the retail sector slowly recovers, consumer experts are still unsure of the long-term impact of the pandemic on customer sentiments. Yet, with retail supply chains hinging upon the fulfilment of customer needs, this uncertainty could cripple a businesses revenue.

AI Forecasting: As AI-driven forecasting begins to mature, many businesses in the retail sector are finding themselves reliant on data-driven foresight to prepare for uncertain customer desires and mitigate the risk of history — as recent as early 2020 — repeating itself.

Shipping Delays 

The blockage of a container ship in the Suez Canal in March this year, causing widespread delays worth an estimated $9.6bn of lost trade each day, illustrates how reliant supply chains are on tried and tested operations. Still today, air, sea and land distribution continue to struggle under the weight of these overwhelming market dictations, with retailers running the risk of paying for the storage of products with subsiding customer demand.

Lean Inventory: With no quick fix to shipping backlogs, an increasing number of retailers are broadening where they source their stock from and readdressing how they distribute their goods by exploring lean inventory processes. In this supply chain management method, companies attempt to reduce the waste they generate by lowering the volume of inventory and moving fulfilment closer to demand, ultimately scaling down their shipping needs and shortening lead times from factory to store. Overall, this strategy allows retailers to quickly respond to fluctuations in delivery times, recalibrate their logistics, and reduce the risk of money lost upfront.

Disjointed Workflows

As the nature of employed work becomes increasingly decentralised from offices, retail operations have had to quickly adapt their workflow processes to transfer information and efficiently facilitate teamwork throughout the supply chain. And technology has been a vital foundation for this shift towards the remote yet more connected working styles that have helped entire economies stay afloat over the past year and a half.

Cloud Software: In a recent survey, 83% of business executives say that their businesses now prioritise building and maintaining relationships with existing suppliers, and Cloud software has become integral to the management of these relationships. According to Accenture, “The cloud provides technologies that allow companies to process huge amounts of data—from virtually unlimited sources across the entire supply chain—at speeds and volumes never before possible.

In practice, more immediate and precise communication between retailers and suppliers can speed up arduous back-and-forth processes such as quality control. Alongside this, the agile nature of the technology allows businesses to create digital continuity throughout entire product life cycles to make agile real-time decisions about goods at every stage.

Labour Shortages

The impact of furloughs, redundancies, and under-employment catalysed by the pandemic can still be felt today, as job vacancies continue to rise sharply — particularly in manufacturing and logistics. These workforce gaps have been detrimental to retail recovery, causing insufficiently staffed stores to shutter their doors and order fulfilment schedules to be derailed due to limited warehouse teams. However, these ongoing labour shortages have left retailers scratching their heads — and experts Unhappiness, skills gaps, and at home commitments are all cited as viable explanations.

Employee-First Technology: Providing existing employees — and enticing new staff members — with digital tools that increase job satisfaction and upskill talent is crucial to building back workforce numbers. For example, RFID enabled inventory management software helps employees enhance capabilities to fulfil customer orders whilst reducing the time spent on labour-intensive stock takes and subsequently optimising the daily tasks staff.

Micro-Warehouses: To solve this problem more immediately, micro-warehousing is becoming a popular solution for several reasons. This setup allows retailers to break down their distribution hubs into smaller and easier to operate locations such as brick and mortar stores. Thus, generating opportunities to recruit from more localised communities and creating more manageable workloads whilst providing opportunities to utilise their recently loss-leading physical presence.

 Lack of Transparency

Just this month, global fast-fashion retailer and market leader Shein have been accused of ethical violations in the manufacturing and sourcing of their products due to limited transparency within their supply chain. Supply chain transparency has become a growing concern for empowered consumers in recent years as they more readily use their wallets to support businesses whose actions align with their own values. Meanwhile, for retailers, supply chain clarity will help them better to understand every stage and better control their operational costs.

Compliance Technology: Compliance solutions supported by blockchain technology are increasingly helping retailers make opaque internal processes more transparent and prove their commitment to marketed moral values by securely tracking and immediately mapping the regulatory compliance of their manufacturers.

Environmentally Damaging Footprints

According to McKinsey & Company, the typical consumer company’s supply chain creates far greater social and environmental costs than its own operations. This is worrying for both direct and indirect stakeholders such as customers, investors, governments, and activists. And due to the globalisation of retail — as products move back and forth from factories to warehouses to customers across continents — this problem is only growing.

Carbon Footprint Tracking: Recently, carbon footprint tracking has seen a recent uptick in interest due to its ability to quantify the environmental impact of everything from an aeroplane ride to a laundry wash. Therefore, software that calculates CO2 is an interesting solution for helping retailers to understand both the holistic impact of their supply chain whilst at the same time breaking it down to item-level data so they can pinpoint problem areas and make more granular decisions.

Supply Chain Digitisation is Vital, but Where to Start? 

At first glance, solutions that reduce risk and enhance responsive decision making are obvious front-runners for retail investment, but considering in context the tangled disruptions retailers are facing, it is the technology that is critical to supply chain innovation.

However, with the vast number of problems retailers face, business leaders must also strategise on how to begin implementing these supply chain solutions and prioritise which problems to approach first. Moreover, due to the complexity of their supply chains, retailers will need to find multifunctional Softwares that are quick to implement and deliver fast results — especially since, in retail, agility was a winning characteristic of market leaders throughout the pandemic.

Here we discuss the three key features retailers should be prioritising when investing in digital supply chain management solutions:

  1. Multi-Tasking

With supply chain disruptions as deep-rooted and complex as they currently are, management tools that solve multiple problems at once are highly valuable options for retailers of any size. For example, fashion brands New Look, H&M, and Next have just begun piloting an IBM supply chain platform that combines several different technologies such as AI and blockchain to increase transparency and allow the various stages of supply chains to connect and communicate with one another.

  1. Speed

The continuous volatility and unpredictability of the global landscape makes it vital that supply chain solutions deliver almost immediate results to work alongside the often fleeting context of the market on any given week, day, or even hour. Take inventory software Detego, for example, which uses RFID to provide quick results that are responsive to immediate changes throughout entire operations helping businesses to view inventory levels in real-time and distribute stock globally and locally.

  1. Ease

In another article earlier this month, we touched upon the importance of employee adoption of technology and discussed the importance of user experiences that help to embed digital solutions into the everyday roles of workforces. It is key that solutions are easy to adopt for a variety of employees at every level. For instance — as previously mentioned — Cloud technology like Oracle helps retailers to generate digital continuity within their workflows by seamlessly transferring data between various stakeholders throughout operations.

The benefit of solutions that tackle multiple challenges with speed and ease is that they are less likely to become obsolete as their capabilities evolve alongside the post-pandemic market and efficiently reduces the number of supply chain evaluations needed every quarter.

Why it’s Important to Investing in Supply Chain Technology Now

As consumer demand for goods continues to move away from predictable seasonal patterns and towards erratic, unpredictable surges, and their loyalty falters, expectations for immediate fulfilment, unparalleled services, and complete transparency are meteorically rising. Meaning a retailers success will depend upon competing to cater to these demands effectively, and honing a frictionless supply chain is vital to achieving this.

So for both retailers on the brink of survival and market leaders, using the upcoming financial year to invest in supply chain management solutions and optimise operational costs is essential.

Yet, luckily for the retail sector, digital supply chain solutions are both growing in diversity and maturing in ability — and it is wise not to take this point in time for granted. Because looking forward, it is clear that rather than waiting for supply chains to snap back to their pre-pandemic states, businesses that accept their volatile new normal and build strategies for the reality of a post-pandemic era will surely be positioning themselves to take disruptions in their stride and stand out in the struggling retail market.

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