How to benefit from RFID even if not all of your products are tagged
By James Eastwood
By James Eastwood
When retailers embrace RFID for inventory management, one of the use cases is checking incoming shipments to stores. With RFID, this is an almost effortless process: scan the cartons of the incoming shipment and check them against the shipment notice. This way, stores can be confident that what is reported to be in the carton is actually in the carton - at an item level.
But what if your shipment contains non-RFID tagged items?
Without RFID, your stores will have to trust that they received all the items that are on the shipment notice. If it says that it contains 50 blue T-shirts, the store assumes that you have got these fifty t-shirts, unaware that the employee at the distribution center accidentally put 49 shirts in a box instead of 50. With RFID, a quick scan of the incoming shipment would’ve noticed the difference in numbers.
In some cases however, not all items that are shipped to the stores have RFID labels attached to them.
In that case you would need to have two different systems for the same receiving shipments process: one system that can handle RFID (item-level data), and another system for items that, for whatever reason, don’t have RFID.
So how do you deal with these two kinds of worlds?
To solve this problem, we’ll need to look closer at the cases when you receive non-tagged items. First, we’ll review the three major reasons retailers are receiving items without RFID; even the ones that are well underway in their RFID journey:
If you are implementing RFID, you obviously won’t have your whole inventory tagged overnight. This means that stores have a period of time where they receive mixed shipments: some incoming shipments will have RFID-tagged items in the cartons, while others won’t. In these cases, it’s common that stores would need to tag these items manually in the store.
It's likely that you will have items that won’t be tagged with RFID at all. Small items, like lipstick or keyrings, may not be cost-efficient to label with an RFID tag. Still, you need a way to verify that the stores have received these items.
Some retailers, especially sports fashion retailers, have multiple brands they sell to their customers. Most of the time, their inventory is a mix of owned brands and established brands, that are fully or partially RFID tagged. Brands like Nike and Under Armour are fully RFID tagged, while brands like Adidas, Puma and New Balance are well underway. This means that certain incoming shipments are sometimes fully RFID tagged and sometimes partially.
Whatever the reason might be, every retailer must deal with this ‘hybrid’ world of tagged and non-tagged items one way or another. This leads to friction and makes receiving shipments a hassle.
You will either be forced to hold on to a legacy system for a small percentage of incoming shipments without RFID or have a convoluted workaround in place.
Both options are far from ideal. Maintaining multiple systems is prone to errors and takes up time and money for receiving just a small percentage of inventory. A workaround might work in the short-term but is not a future-proof solution either.
Luckily, there’s a way to navigate this hybrid world with just one system.
iD Cloud Store offers retailers flexibility in receiving incoming shipments. Shipments can contain only RFID items, but it’s also possible to receive shipment with only non-tagged items or a mix of tagged and non-tagged items.
As non-tagged items cannot be counted individually with RFID, they will be accepted in the quantity stated on the shipment notice. In other words, if the shipment notice says the carton contains 100 keyrings (items without RFID in this case), iD Cloud marks these 100 keyrings as received.
Typically a retailer implementing RFID in an environment where there are still untagged items would need to maintain two systems to receive the two product types. ID Cloud allows a retailer to retire their existing system completely, maintain accurate receiving, and also allows them to be more flexible in their approach to RFID adoption.
For example, a multi-brand retailer may wish to utilize the existing tags that a brand is already providing, such as Nike or Under Armour, but cannot yet tag all of the other brands that they manage. In this example, a retailer can benefit from RFID immediately and add additional brands in the future.
It also allows a retailer to deploy in a more gradual way, for example initially tagging specific categories and adding others at a future point, to help spread out the investment, or where there may be logistical limitations for example only being able to tag one season at a time.
In these examples, having to maintain two systems to deal with the tagged and non-tagged items is costly and complex for store staff, having to manage two separate processes. Start receiving every shipment with just one system
We’re always here to help you get the most out of iD Cloud. Need assistance in getting started? Just send our customer success manager Steffie Broere an e-mail, and she’ll get in touch with you.