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

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

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

 

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

The Panelists:

Kim Berknov – Executive Chairman, DETEGO

Sampath Kannan – CEO, Tejas Software

Vince Cavasin – Head of Marketing, FenixCommerce

Vivek Raj – CEO, Digital Spaces Inc

Anil Varghese – CEO, Proxima360

Moderator:

Carlos Diaz – Director, Sales, Proxima360

Detego's Latest Retail Insights & News

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

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

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

What is in the eBook?

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

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

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

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

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

Improving key metrics in stores

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

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

Delivering to customers with retail RFID

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

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

Optimising supply chains from source to store with automated processes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The podcast covers:

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

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

Detego's Latest Retail Insights & News

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

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How is a Detego stocktake different?

For retail stores using the Detego platform, the stocktake is where it all starts. While typically stores would only perform a full stocktake, also knows as a cycle count or an inventory, a handful of times a year, the RFID-powered Detego application allows stocktakes to be performed bi-weekly or even daily.

Staff perform a stocktake through the Detego mobile application, connected to a handheld RFID reader. The application guides staff through the process, displaying the current count, the differences from the target list and the stock accuracy percentage. Stocktakes are vital to maintaining an accurate inventory – with the Detego platform stores can reach as high as 99% stock accuracy.

What problem does it solve?

Regular stocktakes are essential to maintaining a high level of stock accuracy and maintaining On-Floor Availability (OFA) of products. Performing regular stocktakes:

  • Is the key to achieving high stock accuracy and shop floor availability
  • Enables store managers to uncover stock discrepancies
  • Provides insight into product performance and enables review of pricing strategies
  • Exposes theft

However, a manual count of inventory or a barcode cycle count is incredibly time-consuming. Counting items individually takes at least several hours and often means closing the store or working around opening hours. As a result, cycle counts in retail stores are typically only performed a handful of times a year, meaning lower stock accuracy in stores – the average being between 60-70%.

The Detego platform changes this. Powered by RFID, staff using the stocktake feature can perform a stocktake of both the backroom and salesfloor in around 30 minutes (depending on store size). The RFID reader can read product signals all at once, so it can count hundreds of items in seconds. A Detego stocktake can also never count a product more than once and is far less likely to miss items as direct line of sight is not needed. The result of this an increase of stock accuracy to ~98%.

‘We scan every day, giving us the accuracy of the exact stock we have in the store, in roughly 35 minutes’
Manisha Hassan, Reiss Store Manager

The Detego system:

  • Makes stocktaking much more efficient, easier, and faster
  • Brings more accurate stocktake results
  • Reduces operational costs of doing a stocktake

Why is having a high stock accuracy in stores so important?

Stock accuracy for stores has become a core KPI for retailers. At the most basic level its vital for maintaining the availability of products on the salesfloor and preventing out of stocks which in turn increases sales – our customer, Reiss, increases sales by 4% by increasing their stock accuracy. Stores without such accurate inventory must compensate to maintain sales, so they will often carry excess stock to prevent out of stocks and lost sales. Increasing stock accuracy in such cases results in a significant reduction in inventory size, reducing working capital by as much as 30%.

When you look at more advanced retail trends, like the increasing connection between online and offline – high stock is simply non-negotiable. Offering online customers real-time store stock information naturally requires the retailer to know exactly what is in stock, and advanced services like buy-online-pick-up-in-store (BOPIS) built off of poor stock accuracy are destined to fail.

How does it work?

  1. Each staff member selects the stocktaking option on their handheld device.
  2. As each staff member reads the items in their designated area, their handheld device reflects the number of items that they have read and the current stock accuracy.
  3. If more than one person is performing the stocktake, the devices are synchronised, and the stock accuracy is calculated using all the counts.
  4. Once most items have been read, staff can see the number of differences between the actual and target counts and can attempt to resolve the differences (for example, re-reading an area and replacing any missing tags).
  5. When a staff member has completed their read and resolved as many differences as possible, they confirm the result on their device.

The Detego stocktake in action

Our customers, fashion retailer Reiss, implemented the Detego platform in their 50 UK stores. They moved from doing 2-3 cycle counts a year to a stocktake every day. The result was an average store stock accuracy of 98%, and a resulting 4% uplift in sales.

Types of stocktake with the Detego platform

Guided Stocktake

A guided stocktake is the most common method for a Detego cycle count. Guided means that the handheld readers used for a stocktake show the number of items that the device has read and the calculated stock accuracy based on the number of products read by all devices and the expected stock of the store.

After reading all of the items in the store, staff can investigate the differences between the actual and expected counts, a process called difference clarification.

For example, staff may realise that they missed an area in the location they were reading, or there may be a surplus of a specific product on the salesfloor. Once staff have resolved as many differences as possible, they confirm their final count.

Guided Stocktake app

Blind Stocktake

A Blind stocktake works the same way as a guided one except that the handheld readers only show the number of items that the device has read. They don’t show the expected number of items or the current stock accuracy and staff can’t investigate any differences on their handheld device. Staff simply read the items in their designated location and confirm their count when their read is complete.

  • May be required for regulatory reasons
  • Enables the store manager to control the stocktake as individual store staff cannot investigate differences on their own
  • Reduces the risk of items going missing during a stocktake
Blind stocktake app

Partial Stocktake

A Partial stocktake checks a subset of inventory, for example, a category of items, such as footwear, or a specific product. Partial stocktakes are useful if there is not time to perform a full stocktake, or if there are issues to resolve with certain types of stock. Partial stocktakes are useful in the following situations:

  • A full stocktake would take too long to complete in the time available
  • A full stocktake has highlighted issues with a particular item or location that need further investigation
  • A full stocktake for large stores would be complex and difficult to manage, so it’s more efficient to check individual locations separately
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.

What is Smart Shield?

The Detego Smart Shield is a cutting-edge feature that determines the location of individual RFID tags, by using machine learning algorithms. This allows the Detego Platform to differentiate between the backroom and sales floor of a store, without the need for expensive physical shielding installations.

It’s vital that a stocktake tells you not only exactly what is in a store, but where the items are too. The two locations that need differentiating in stores are typically the backroom and the salesfloor. Store staff, and the Detego platform itself, need to be able to see exactly what’s on the sales floor so they can identify when items and specific sizes are running low so they can be replenished from the backroom. If this isn’t done, you can end up with products in stock but not available to purchase on the shop floor – a costly and easily avoidable mistake.

What problem does it solve?

RFID is able to read items from several feet away, and even through objects like boxes and walls – this is what makes it such an excellent technology for managing inventory. What this means, however, is that a staff member doing an RFID-based stocktake in the backroom could accidentally pick up signals from the sales floor, and therefore allocate items to the incorrect location.

The old solution to this problem involved using a physical shield that blocks RFID signals, often in the form of metal sheets or metallic paint. Making physical modifications to a store such as these is both expensive, costing up to $5000 per store, and time-consuming. When it comes to large scale rollouts of hundreds of stores, the added costs and manhours can be a major barrier to entry for RFID.

With the Detego platform, the need for physical shielding is removed entirely, significantly reducing the cost and time to implement RFID in stores. The Smart Shield feature is available out-of-the-box, meaning retailers can implement the cloud-hosted software in stores with very little fuss.  This is what makes the Detego platform the most ‘plug and play’ RFID software on the market.

How does it work?

Every RFID tag creates a specific time and signal stamp when being read by an RFID reader – up to several times per second. Detego collects this data (created during stocktakes) and applies machine learning algorithms to determine the most probable location of individual tags.

Explanation of Smart Shield

Detego Smart Shield Diagram

The Detego Smart Shield in Action

The Smart Shield feature makes a massive difference for retailers undergoing RFID store rollouts at scale. These benefits include:

  • Determines the location of individual items, with no need for physical shielding between separate stock locations
  • Help optimise other processes and features, such as stock replenishment advice
  • Allows for faster roll-out and reduces up-front costs, as no physical shielding is required

A Detego customer utilising Smart Shield recently rolled-out the platform in record speed, achieving 100 stores per month and with a stock accuracy of greater than 98%. This speed of implementation is far beyond anything seen before Smart Shield and allows retailers to get up and running quickly to unlock the benefits of the platform, driving an instant return on investment throughout their store network. By achieving high stock accuracy and on-floor availability in stores, Detego customers typically see between 3-10% revenue increase per store.

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.

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

16th June 4 pm BST / 11 am EDT 

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

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

 

This webinar will cover:

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

Data by nature: Why eCommerce analytics are steps ahead

Online retailing not only created a new way of shopping, but it also changed the game when it comes to tracking and analysing the shopping journey. There is almost nothing that is not being evaluated while surfing the webshop. Digital-heat-maps of individual online sessions are analysed, showing every click and scroll through the online store. Every possible KPI is monitored: Conversion rate, click-through rate, average order value, the relation between new and returning visitors, bounce rate and retention to name a few. The really powerful thing about this is that analysis is always followed by action, to improve both the effectiveness of the webshop and the experience of its customers.

Data by design? Time for brick and mortar to take some lessons

Naturally, eCommerce has a significant advantage when it comes to analytics, a digital channel is always going to produce more data. Brick-and-mortar stores need to adapt to compete however, and technology is trying to bridge this gap between the physical and digital. Some of the more hardware-heavy options include AI-powered cameras, smart shelves or even aisle-roaming robots.

While hardware-intensive solutions like customer-tracking smart cameras are available, with the right software supporting it, a technology that simply tracks products (such as RFID) and leverages the IoT (Internet of Things) can revolutionise analytics for stores. These technologies and their supporting platforms are a big driver of ‘Digital transformation’ which delivers the analytics and data that brick-and-mortar stores are desperate for.

Here are 3 lessons from eCommerce for improving analytics in retail stores….

The need for real-time data

For years, brick-and-mortar retailers have been complaining about imprecise stock-figures and unreliable historical data. Unhappy with its purchasing decisions based on last year’s sales figures, retailers would prefer to have real-time data and inventories that allow for reliable and economically viable decisions. After all, it is important to avoid high-security stocks in order to reduce capital tie-up.

But why do we actually have this problem? Are the data points offered by the ERP systems not enough? Unfortunately not – it is not unusual that the ERP system shows higher stock than actually available on the sales floor. This so-called “ghost stock” is the cause for various problems in sales, e.g. the ERP system says a certain article, for example, a red skirt in size S, is in stock, but in reality, it is not. It can neither be sold nor refilled from the central warehouse – a classical out-of-stock situation. Or vice-versa, the ERP displays a lower inventory level than is actually available. The reason for these deviations is insufficient accuracy in individual processes that dangerously sum up over time.

Today’s intelligent article management is based on three pillars: fast, RFID-based article identification on item-level, tracking of every movement in real-time and proactive analysis with concrete recommendations for actions to take for the sales personnel. This is the foundation for optimum customer service and efficient processes.

What does real-time data mean for Brick and Mortar Stores?

  • High Stock accuracy
  • Increases product availability of the shop floor from accurate replenishment
  • Allows for convenient omnichannel services like click-and-collect
  • Equips store staff with up-to-the-minute stock information – allowing them to assist customers better

Meaningful KPIs in the store

When measuring KPIs, the practical benefits for retailers are paramount. Three areas of data in the store can be distinguished:

KPIs for Store performance

 

Inventory Accuracy

Whether five or 800 stores, KPIs for measuring inventory accuracy are significant for every retailer and still represent one of the main challenges in today’s business. Retailers, on average, can actually make accurate statements on just about 75% of their inventory (based on SKU level). However, this is not enough to meet customers’ expectations for omnichannel services. Therefore, inventory transparency and corresponding KPIs are essential for retailers´ success.

 

Product availability

Product availability on the sales floor, also known as on-floor availability, is the second central parameter. Initially, it is less about the exact position and more about the fact that the articles are on the sales floor – after all, only items that are actually available can be sold. This key figure can be combined with an alert system that makes sure not to fall short of the defined minimum availability. Complementary to classical ERP-systems, RFID-based merchandise management takes the data granularity to the next level, by knowing exactly at each moment in time if products are really on the salesfloor or still lingering in the backroom of a store.

Detego RFID Software Dashboard

KPIs for individual product & campaign performance

 

Product dwell-time on salesfloor

Having data on item level, store managers are also given important information on the dwell times of articles on the sales floor. This information is more valuable than simple sales data, as it tells us the average time individual products spend on the sales floor before being sold. This can be used to gauge whether products are performing & corresponding with the sales plan. Common recommendations made from this data include moving items do a different location on the salesfloor (i.e. adjusting the planogram)  or relocating excess inventory to another store – both of these measures reduce profit-sapping inventory bloat and end-of-season markdowns.

 

Fitting room conversion rate

One of the most famous KPIs in e-commerce is the conversion rate that describes the ratio between purchases and website visitors and also provides information on certain items that were already in the shopping cart, but for some reason have not been purchased in the end. Specifically, this aspect was incredibly difficult to measure in the store for a long time but can now be measured in fitting rooms using IoT and RFID technologies. This provides meaningful insights into how many, and above all, which articles does a customer take into the fitting room and which one does she/he actually buy?

Detego Reports - Fitting Room Conversions

KPIs on customer engagement and service quality

On an operational side, KPIs can also be used to manage service quality. We’ve already covered product-availability and stock accuracy, which affect the customer just as much as the store with out-of-stocks or unavailable sizes being all-too-common pain points. The replenishment rate provides another angle to combat this, as it shows how quickly articles are replenished on the sales floor.  On the other hand, the fitting room response time describes how quickly sales personnel handle customer requests coming from the fitting room. The KPI “Conversion rate per campaign” shows the success of a campaign and if campaign-specific countermeasures are necessary.

Detego Retail Analytics Dashboard

Turning data into actions

The final lesson brick-and-mortar retail should learn from the webshop? Turning data into actions. Since nobody needs a data graveyard, any analysis needs the goal of creating immediate actions to improve. Today’s systems help the management team as well as the store personnel with concrete and automated recommendations for actions to take. This saves time in the decision-making process, unburdens the sales personnel, and enables them to do the right things at the right time.

KPIs should be suitable for everyday business use. Presented visually and self-explanatory, they need to be linked to clear recommendations for actions to take. This frees up store personnel time and provides a data-driven way of optimization. Examples range from simple in-store replenishment advice, i.e. “The minimum stock for article #47699-0010 has been reached – please refill three pieces” to more advanced topics, e.g. to choose a different placement in the store for a specific article when the dwell time on the sales floor is too high compared to other stores. Advanced systems can even utilise AI and Machine learning to automate and refine certain processes, like adjusting store planograms and creating optimal pick paths when replenishing stock.

Detego Instore Edition Refill Advice

Conclusion

Brick-and-mortar retail needs support and an update to the toolbox when it comes to analysis and measures. Not only does the sales personnel benefit from intelligent recommendations for action, but the management team also gains efficient control mechanisms across the entire store network. Decisions are made based on real-time data and therefore allow timely action. Ultimately, the end customer is pleased about a first-class service, which – thanks to the individual and informed advice through the sales personnel – even exceeds the standards of the online retail.

Webinar

Item-level Reporting from
Source-to-Store

Register for this webinar where we outline the impact of digitisation on supply chain analytics and operational efficiency. Covering the wealth of item-level data unlocked by RFID, the presentation will explain the new KPI’s available for modern supply chains and their impact on retail operations.

🏪 What is in-store fulfilment?  

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

Detego Ship-from-store

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

eBook

Solving Retail's Top 10 Needs with RFID

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

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

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

The Current Impact of COVID-19 on Retail

Supply Chain Chaos

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

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

Shutting of physical stores & reduced footfall

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

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

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

Spike in Online Sales

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

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

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

Future Considerations

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

Continued advancement of e-commerce

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

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

Diversifying manufacturing facilities

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

Source-to-consumer traceability in supply chains

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

Automated warehouses and supply chains

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

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

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

Self-service stores and cashierless checkout 

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

Radio frequency identification (RFID) has had a fairly long road to adoption in the retail industry. Leading the way on this journey has often been large tier 1 retailers, either investing and experimenting with the technology in-house or partnering with early RFID specialists like Detego.

However, in the more settled retail RFID industry of today, implementing the technology is a different prospect. Here’s 4 reasons why there’s never been a better time for small and medium retailers to reap the benefits of RFID:

1) RFID has Lowered in Cost

 

Naturally, price point is a huge factor in choosing to implement a new technology for retailers of any size. Like most technologies, RFID was at its most expensive when it was new, but over time has become more and more affordable. This drop in cost is mostly down to the price of RFID tags themselves decreasing significantly. In the early 2000s, tags cost up to $0.75 (Approx. £0.50) whereas these days the average cost is between 3 to 8 cents (so around £0.05).

Developments in hardware and software also make a difference to the price point of RFID projects. For small and medium sized retailers, in particular, the need for only a single handheld reader per store, new hardware like mobile RFID label printers, and the availability of modular cloud-based SaaS solutions can lower the initial investment required to get started with the technology. This combination of industry progress makes leaner, more affordable RFID solutions a reality.

Handheld RFID reader performing a stock take

2) The Established RFID Industry Presents Less Risk and Better Knowledge Application

 

In the early days, RFID projects presented something of a risk. Bigger brands have the resources and personnel for (often in-house) ‘trial and error’ projects, but smaller organisations do not. Now that Retail RFID is an established sub-industry, retailers no longer have to go it alone and have far more options in terms of vendors, partners and solutions. This often means no steep learning curves and more stable and effective digital transformations. In other words, it’s now known what works and what doesn’t work for RFID in the retail industry.

 

How has RFID become more feasible for retailers over time?

  • Expanded and established use cases
  • Project stability
  • Securing return of investment
  • Easy and less expensive implementation

3) RFID Implementation has Become Easier

 

Historically, implementation has always been a barrier to entry for RFID. This is because adopting RFID is a fairly transformative project, meaning you have to make significant changes to see the significant benefits. Unfortunately, these changes have looked too daunting for many a retailer, especially for smaller brands who don’t have the resources to spare on long projects or clunky transformations. In recent years however, established RFID solutions offer more of a ‘plug and play’ experience.

 

How has RFID implementation changed for retailers?

  • Out-of-the-box solutions
  • Cloud-hosted platforms
  • Smart shield
  • Able to print and encode labels on-site

4) Scalable Solutions are the Perfect Platform for Smaller Retailers to Unlock the Value of RFID

 

As well as easier implementation, scalable SaaS solutions are now common practise, making RFID projects easier to manage and develop over time. A scalable solution means retailers don’t have to jump straight into the deep end. This makes the technology far more accessible for retailers of all sizes, but perhaps particularly for smaller sized retailer who have a limited technology budget and need to invest over time.

Scalable solutions, like the Detego platform, often focus on core deliverable KPI’s like inventory accuracy and product availability in stores. This is because they provide immediate ROI as well as being the key foundation for many of RFID’s other use cases. One of the main benefits of scalable RFID for smaller retailers is the quickly established ROI can fund the additional investment needed to scale the solution, providing a much easier route to full adoption.

Here’s an example of what a scalable in-store RFID solution (The Detego Store platform) looks like:

An example of a scalable RFID solution: Divided into features

Putting It All Together – What an RFID Project Should look Like for a Smaller Retailer.

So, a smaller retailer  can take advantage of RFID with only a single handheld reader per store and a lean cloud-hosted RFID solution run through a mobile application. Other than the initial change in production to introduce source-tagging (adding RFID labels at the factory) implementation for such a solution is very minimal. The result of this would be rapid increase in stock accuracy, product availability and a subsequent increase in sales. This type of project provides an almost immediate return of investment, the retailer could then choose to scale and advance their solution at any point or stay with what they have and benefit from a leaner, better managed inventory.

Summary

Not only has the technology matured, including tags, hardware and software, but RFID use cases, best-practise and implantation strategies have now been firmly established. Additionally, the RFID sector is now an established market in its own right, meaning smaller enterprises don’t have to go it alone. By using established and experienced specialist partners, retailers can skip the learning curves and go straight to reaping the benefits of RFID.

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