Omnichannel retailing — with connected customers able to shop not only in the store but also online and on mobile devices — is changing how the industry views the retail store. The fact is, retail stores are finding themselves in a new and expanded role functioning not only as a retail storefront but also as a shipping and fulfillment center. The key to pulling it all together is omnichannel retailing RFID technology.
In the simplest terms, omnichannel retailing is based on giving customers greater choices about where they can shop and purchase items and serving them via the channels they prefer. The potential is varied and nearly unlimited. Consumers can buy online and pick up items in the store (BOPIS), or shop online and have it delivered to their home. The goal is an integrated customer journey where they can shop from a desktop, laptop or mobile device, or in person at a brick-and-mortar store, and enjoy a seamless experience no matter their preferred channel.
In a market upended by the pandemic, omnichannel retailing became a necessity in order for brick-and-mortar retailers to remain competitive and move toward meeting customers where they are. It also works. A comprehensive study showed that 73% of customers generally use multiple channels to buy the products they need.
For consumers, there are few downsides to this shift, but for retailers — particularly those focused primarily on physical locations before — adapting to this new normal requires transformational changes in the way they organize and track inventory. Inventory visibility and control are paramount to success, and the adoption of omnichannel retailing RFID technology provides the opportunity to deliver the customer experience needed today.
RFID within reach, with Zebra: Learn how Zebra’s off-the-shelf RFID solutions are proving on point for SMBs.
Omnichannel Retailing with RFID Leads to Improved Inventory Visibility
RFID technology is fueling omnichannel retailing by maximizing inventory control and flexibility throughout the supply chain — from manufacturer orders through direct-to-customer shipping. Adopting this technology increases the productivity of retail location — both as a sales channel and fulfillment center — and also enhances customer satisfaction and improves end-to-end supply chain ROI.
For example, many apparel retailers have recognized the importance of item-level RFID where RFID tags are attached to individual item — commonly through the pricing label or hangtag. These tags are read by handheld or fixed RFID readers to give real-time inventory visibility. Such a system enables store management, sales associates and even customers to have the accurate, real-time product availability data critical to omnichannel retailing.
Let’s examine three specific areas where RFID empowers omnichannel efforts.
This is critical to omnichannel retailing, especially for brick-and-mortar stores that are integral to new supply chain operations. Stores must be able to deliver on the expectations of on-site customers who want to find exactly what they’re looking for, quickly and easily. At the same time, the location must also meet the needs of customers who want expedited shipping to their homes — whether they’ve purchased the item in the store, at an outlet or online.
To accomplish both, you need accurate visibility on your entire inventory — preferably in real-time — whether your goods are in the back, in overstock locations, en route to the location, already out on the floor or virtually anywhere in the supply chain.
Before omnichannel retailing, inventory visibility was important for sales associates and management. In today’s environment, that’s changing as it’s essential to provide inventory transparency to customers themselves where they shop.
Maybe your customer is ready to make an online purchase but decides instead to travel to a brick-and-mortar location. If they have the option to visit your store’s website and see the item they want is in stock and available for purchase, they will take that trip to the store with confidence. A large percentage of omnichannel shoppers — some studies estimate up to 80 percent — research products online well before they venture into a store. This research goes beyond what it looks like or how it works; it includes whether that item is in stock, in the right size and color, before they decide to make the trip or purchase.
Accurate Product Availability
Omnichannel retailing RFID solves what is still a difficult problem for some retailers. A customer wants to order a specific item to be picked up at the store. The store’s inventory shows only two such items available. But are they really?
In non-RFID environments, that can be a problem because inventory is likely based on Point of Sale (POS) data — a model that lags behind in both accuracy and timeliness. The store cannot be absolutely sure both the items are actually available — they could be on a shelf, but they could just as easily be on a dressing room floor or have been placed in the wrong location. The store may not accept the order because it doesn’t want to take the chance of disappointing a customer and perhaps losing future business. RFID, and the real-time visibility it provides, eliminates this concern.
Account for Every Detail with Zebra: Selecting the right RFID labels and inlays is critical to secure the optimal return on your RFID investment. Learn more here.
Enhance the Customer Experience with Omnichannel Retailing RFID Solutions
Even in the omnichannel world, ensuring a positive and memorable experience remains a top priority for every retail brand. RFID aids in delivering those experiences, consistently, across every channel.
No matter how well the rest of the customer’s experience has gone, if the fulfillment stage falls short it could lead to a negative impression. Item-level RFID technology gives retailers complete inventory visibility and accuracy — some estimates show RFID improving inventory accuracy from 70 percent to more than 99 percent. The right RFID toolset optimizes store-to-store transfers and direct-to-customer shipping, and RFID systems can alert personnel to incomplete or inaccurate orders. All of which provide savings in transportation and shipping costs while enhancing customer satisfaction.
Consistent Brand Experiences
If you have multiple locations, your RFID system can help you create a consistent benchmark of quality across all locations and platforms. If all of your employees are required to comply with the same system, you can create a uniform process providing a conformed workflow, saving time and money.
In omnichannel retailing, that experience must be delivered not just in the brick-and-mortar store, but in every channel through every part of the transaction: from online research to shopping and purchasing and finally accurate fulfillment. Crucial to enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty is consistent positive interaction with your brand whichever channel the customer is using. RFID technology’s unique ability to provide accurate, real-time inventory visibility is key to making sure customers are able to find, purchase and receive what they want, when and where they want it.
Respond More Quickly to Customer Needs
If your sales associates already know an item is out of stock, they can be ready to offer a substitute product to an interested customer. When using RFID scanners, an associate will precisely know what products are in stock and their location in the store.
Make your customers’ lives easier by letting them return products they bought online at an in-store location. When using an RFID system, a quick scan lets your online fulfillment center know the product was returned. As a result, refunds and replacements can be issued more quickly. Any issues with the stock inventory can be addressed immediately as opposed to waiting for a product’s return to the original point of purchase.
Mythbusting with Zebra: Shatter the illusions surrounding the use of RFID. Read more about the misconceptions involving RFID here.
Zebra Powers Omnichannel Retailing with RFID
The long-awaited potential of consistent, reliable RFID
is not only possible, it’s now practical and within reach. Transform your business and get ahead of competitors by leveraging Zebra’s 50 years of expertise in unmatched accuracy and interoperability. Prepare to reveal omnichannel retailing RFID opportunities hidden in plain sight and act on them in real-time.
Gartner, Inc. just named Zebra a Leader in the Magic Quadrant
for Indoor Location Services for the third consecutive year, and our team has helped many retailers, manufacturers and warehouse operators successfully implement RFID solutions.
Schedule time with a Zebra representative to find out how we can help you, too.