Today’s order fulfillment operations may have inventory located in countless spots along the supply chain: in the warehouse or DC, on trucks in transit, on the store shelves or in the stockroom, etc. Ensuring that all of that inventory is appropriately accounted for and reflected in the stock ledger is critical to running a successful operation.
For an agile order fulfillment from any channel in a highly distributed supply network being truly effective and successful, you must have a clear and accurate understanding of your inventory. As consumers just want to shop anywhere, anytime and do not really distinguish in channels, it’s important for brands and retailers to ensure a cohesive and seamless customer experience.
The Single Point of Truth (SPoT)
Having RFID in place means you can seamlessly collect data from various read-points, wherever the status of an item changes. This makes an EPCIS repository effectively the ‘Single Point of Truth’ (SPoT) about the actual situation of stock in the company (or even across enterprises) and the ideal starting point for corresponding analytics. To take a closer look into different options of insights and smart analytics utilizing data from EPCIS I have teamed up with my colleague Dennis Muller who works as a Business Intelligence Specialist and Data Analyst for Nedap Retail.
Smart is the new Big: is data your best friend or worst enemy?
Reporting and analytics are essential to any retailer because this tells you exactly what’s going on in your business. Analyzing your data correctly enables you to make well-informed decisions around things like merchandise planning, promotions and staffing. However, having too much data (or worse — looking at the wrong information) can lead to mishaps, overwhelm, and give a lot of business headaches.
5 SPoT-on examples of real-time stock insights and true business intelligence provided by an EPCIS
- Closing the gap: Supplier compliance
Comparing the ‘scan-pack verification’ from source with the ‘inbound verification’ during distribution in order to identify under-deliveries or other errors. Typically, the total quantity of products within boxes is correct, however there are differences on item-level – what can lead to out-of stock situations for certain sizes and colors. Also, you can identify products that have been registered when they left the producer but never arrived in the DC – this helps to find “gaps” within the supply and transportation network.
- Protecting the brand: Grey market identification
If you register all outgoing products on unique item level as well as each unit’s destination, you can later find out if the products have been distributed into the right (valid) channel or if they have been resold to any kind of grey market.
- It’s all for the customer: shipment compliance
The verification of all outgoing shipments ensures that every unit that is shipped to customers is correct. That is not only to reduce (unnecessary) return transportation costs but also keeps customers happy.
- FIFO made easy: never get outdated
If there are ‘never-out-of-stock’ products that are available across multiple seasons it is impossible to distinguish which products came in first. If you want to ensure a ‘First In, First Out’ principle, serialized product data and the real-time information from the EPCIS can help to identify the actual age of those items.
- Make merchandise simply available: predictive out-of-stocks
Looking at low stock reports on a regular basis can also enable you to spot patterns around which products are constantly running low. If a particular item is always showing on this report, for instance, that could indicate the need to increase your order quantities.
Stock visibility is key to make customers happy
For data-driven brands and retailers, an EPCIS repository in combination with RFID on item-level will add another level of information about the actual stock situation along the entire supply chain. Keeping track of stock movements and status changes in real-time is especially important within a complex supply chain where products are regularly shipped between multiple warehouses, distribution centers, and stores. Creating true and comprehensive stock visibility simply enables for a demand-driven allocation, predictive replenishment and stock transfers to the location where products are really needed. And finally, this will enable brands and retailers to make their customers happy.
Interested in learning more? You can either visit the !D Cloud page or contact Tom Vieweger to learn how to improve stock accuracy using RFID.