by Brent Brown
As e-commerce continues to garner a greater share of retail transactions and mobile commerce explodes, connected consumers are making it clear they want convenient shopping experiences. For brick and mortar retailers, finding new ways to use store data to drive sales, improve operations and deliver a differentiated brand experience is essential.
The increase in connected devices and data combined with improved, less expensive technology platforms and acceptance of common standards will increase the adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies across the industry. These technologies will enable retailers to operate more efficiently and make better informed decisions to meet consumers’ desires for more connected unified commerce shopping experiences. As a result, retailers are looking to find new ways to leverage technology to connect with customers through every brand touch point, as well as gather insights to impact multiple business areas.
Powering Unified Commerce
To succeed with unified commerce operations, establishing item-level accuracy for a strong inventory foundation is essential. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is the most reliable IoT technology that enables this critical real-time accurate inventory. RFID provides precise inventory accuracy (up to 99 percent), so retailers can eliminate distortion and confidently make enterprise-wide store inventory available for purchase down to the last unit. This insight allows retailers to promise items to customers online, on time and through their chosen fulfillment channel – whether it’s buy online pick up in-store, ship-from-store or central fulfillment.
Enabling Better Customer Engagement
Having real-time inventory data and IoT device connectivity also helps improve customer service in the store. With endless aisle capabilities, sales associates can access product details and real-time, on-hand availability to best service customers. Whether it’s leveraging handheld or fixed readers, RFID technology allows associates to increase the speed and accuracy of cycle counting, a significant improvement from traditional methods. RFID captures real-time inventory data to help quickly understand what products (in what color, size and quantity) are available for customers on the sales floor, in the backroom or at another store. This insight enables associates to spend more time interacting directly with customers and providing more personalized service.
The inventory insights available through connected solutions, like RFID, can also help retailers reduce shrink. The addition of accurate data helps retailers understand what products are in each store, and what products should be there. The real-time insight helps loss prevention professionals understand what products are frequently being stolen so they can reassess loss prevention strategy, in-store merchandising and staffing needs. When coupled with traffic solutions, RFID technology can even go one step further by comparing high periods of traffic with inventory changes, enabling retailers to identify future opportunities for loss.
As more retailers look to execute unified commerce and leverage new technologies, success will come to those who connect, collect and act on data to strengthen the customer service experience. RFID will be at the forefront for IoT-enabling technologies and more profitable unified commerce.
Posted on May 1st, 2017