Why inventory accuracy is key for omnichannel services

Getting more done in your store in less time with RFID

Did you have fun with your annual inventory count?

Does it still make sense to count stock manually?

October 1 2023

Shifting demographics, rising consumer expectations, and new buying trends are changing the look and feel of omnichannel retail. At the same time, an aging workforce, demand for higher productivity, and the need to attract younger people are causing company leaders to seek various solutions, including investing in technology, more automation, and smart tools to support and attract a new generation of workers.   

Does it still make sense to count stock manually? Well, the annual stock audit is mandatory. Typically, retailers may audit their inventory once or twice a year. However, starting on the very first day after the audit, the accuracy of the stock file declines up to the next audit date. Many retailers are exploring RFID technology to overcome these tedious and error-prone strains. The time is right to automate processes and free up time for customer service. 

Empower store staff

If you have ever worked in a retail store, you know how many things there are to do besides the core: customer service. Store staff must check new deliveries, count stock, assort merchandise, reduce prices, organize store transfers, etc. Yet, at the same time, customers expect a superior service experience.   

When online and offline merge to omnichannel, competent employees personate the link to the customer. However, due to demographic changes, the number of workers is steadily going down. Many retailers, as well as their supply chain partners, are facing problems in hiring adequate people. Companies must react by adopting technology and intelligent tools if the workforce is unavailable.  

It is essential to support people in their daily work and make their lives easier. While retail personnel must focus on the customer experience, specific (administrative) tasks can be taken over by technology. RFID significantly reduces non-productive operations, especially for counting or searching for items in the store. In addition, store assistants can help and advise customers with smart mobile devices and real-time data. For example, suppose you have accurate stock information from RFID counts separated into front-store and back-room. In that case, you can check if the desired item is just a few steps away.  

Fulfilling the omnichannel promise

In times of omnichannel and "everywhere commerce," customers' expectations of the shopping experience are continuously growing. Therefore, an essential part of customer satisfaction is enabling customers to buy and return products anywhere – no matter the channel. 

With the ever-growing number of online orders, stores can be utilized as so-called "mini DCs" that fulfill orders directly from the stock in stores. This results in lower transportation costs, fewer emissions, and shorter shipping times since items will be sent from the closest store.  

It is essential to provide our community with the products they want, regardless of the channel they choose to use.”

Daniel Bontjer, Head of Retail Europe at SNIPES

In this context, retailers need to be able to trust their inventory to avoid missed sales and disappointed customers due to stockouts or order cancellations. RFID technology is the foundation for accurate stock information, making it possible to automate in-store stock management, resulting in full stock accuracy. In addition, clear visibility of what is in stores and the supply chain is a fundamental foundation to ensure merchandise availability - physically (in-store) and digitally (online). 

Know your stock

Accurate stock matters to create excellent shopping experiences. An RFID-based stock visibility platform, the so-called EPCIS repository, is an easy and efficient tool to aggregate stock information from all possible locations. Moreover, it holds all tracking and tracing events along the whole supply chain, which is consequently the basis for fulfilling customer orders in the most agile way.  

  1. Real-time: By covering all product movements and status changes via dedicated read-events, an RFID stock visibility platform provides an accurate real-time perspective on the stock situation.   
  1. Insights into sellable stock: An RFID-based status management provides exact information about the sellable stock.   
  1. Sub-location view: Only RFID can associate the registered items with their location and manage the stock among various store sub-locations.  
  1. Connecting the silos: An EPCIS repository connects the various silos of stock-keeping systems along the supply chain, such as WMS, SCM, ERP, or POS. It is the umbrella above all those isolated data silos and, consequently, holds the entire history of movements from each individual product from end to end.  
  1. Interoperability: If a brand manages its stocks on multiple channels, it is possible to easily exchange data with partners – having the EPC as the unique access key to the data.  

Be the customer's favorite 

The world is ever-changing – and so is retail. Technology can help to support sustainable and profitable business models. Specifically, RFID helps to provide more automation, better data, and smart tools to improve labor efficiency. Ultimately, it allows retailers to have complete visibility of their supply chain and shows in detail which products are available at which exact location. This makes it simple to have products available anywhere, anytime.   

Tom Vieweger
RFID business expert
Tom Vieweger