From Competition to Imitation

Technological advancements are the cornerstone of the Information Age. Because of this, many great technological inventions build off one another. For example, the internet had to be invented before Google could have been created to help make it a more productive tool. In addition, microchips had to be perfected in order for smartphones to be invented. These two instances exemplify how human ingenuity should work. People from many walks of life work with the inventions of others to create original, useful products.

With this same principle in mind, Solutions Providers who manufacture their own products not only build upon their own inventions, but also build upon existing technologies. Consider Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) technology. Although Nedap did not invent EAS technology, we successfully made it the best it can be by making our EAS systems RFID-capable, and by inventing Dynamic Beam Steering Technology. Consider Nedap’s !D Top, our signature ceiling-mounted RFID reader that takes up no selling space in the store, offers reliable detection and prevents false alarms with state-of-the-art tag filtering and direction detection. The !D Top, is equipped with a sophisticated antenna array that dynamically creates a multitude of independent beams in different directions. With this Dynamic Beam Steering functionality, the smart integrated reader determines whether a tagged product is really moving or if it is stationary.

Consider these advantages for Loss Prevention:

When using Dynamic Beam Steering within the EAS solution, the following issues are reduced:

  • People walking too close to the EAS system, which previously has caused false alarms.
  • Items that were only read due to reflections (e.g. people with metallic shopping carts or suitcases) causing false alarms.
  • Merchandise stored outside of the store being brought into the store caused false alarms. Nedap’s

Dynamic Beam Steering technology distinguishes between outgoing and incoming labels, thereby

reducing false alarms.

Nedap’s use of RFID and our invention of Dynamic Beam Steering technology are perhaps the most important new advancements for an antiquated EAS technology. This has never been clearer when one considers how Nedap’s competitors have imitated this technology. But as with most imitations, they are fraught with service issues and other technological missteps.

Today, retailers need to be customer-centric. Installing security systems like EAS and having to contend with false alarms is a recipe for disaster. EAS systems, with or without RFID technology, negatively impact the customer experience and in today’s retail environment, customer experience is the golden goose. Charles Caleb Colton once said, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” and some may subscribe to that. But there is another interesting quote about imitation that seems more fitting in the world of technology:

In everything truth surpasses the imitation and copy.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero

Want to learn more?

Download our whitepaper “Dynamic Beam Steering” and learn more about the benefits of using Dynamic Beam Steering for Loss Prevention.

Saving the Sale: LP’s Newest Hat

Everyone in the retail profession knows that the face of Loss Prevention/Asset Protection (LP/AP) has changed several times over the last several decades, with good reason. Although it may seem untrue at times, the retail industry changes quite frequently. When gasoline prices increase, retail sales soften. When the housing market is booming, retail sales also improve. And those are just the first layer of levers that affect retail sales. Deeper KPI’s, such as the unemployment rate, can have a long-lasting impact on sales, both good and bad depending on the actual rate. Yet, regardless of how consumers react to whichever lever is pulled, how each retailer will fare is determined mostly by one very important factor: inventory levels.

Time for Another Change

Going from the title of Loss Prevention to Asset Protection never became a mandate. In fact, the departmental name change was such a slow burn in the industry that it actually fizzled out before fully catching on. Today, both terms are used interchangeably for the most part. However, some say a new change in titles is looming on the horizon, and an increasing number of indicators tends to support the claim. Imagine LP/AP executives having new titles designed to describe the one area in which they can make the most impact on the health of an organization. What might that title look like? Some say a new title that is inclusive of Inventory Management. After all, poor inventory issues, such as out-of-stocks, are costing retailers $984 billion in lost sales worldwide, $144.9 billion of which is from North America alone. That’s 984,000,000,000!

With inventory levels emerging as the top priority for retailers’ survival, someone has to take the proverbial bull by the horns and start making some positive waves. Who better than the LP/AP department? Truth be told, there is no department in retail more equipped to address this problem than LP/AP professionals. The LP/AP department is the only team with its hands deeply embedded in every other department. From Merchandising, Operations and Logistics, to Procurement, Human Resources and Financial Accounting, no other department can make a more positive impact in the shortest possible timeframe.

The Current State of Retail

In recent webinar hosted by the IHL Group, a leading global research and advisory firm specializing in technologies for the retail and hospitality industries, it was revealed that consumers experience an out-of-stock situation as often as 1 in 3 shopping trips. According to the IHL Group, the consumers define an “out-of-stock” as any time they come into a store with intent to buy and leave for any reason other than the price is too high. This could mean that a store may have the desired item somewhere in the store, such as the rear stockroom or in the wrong location, but the shelf that was supposed to display the item was empty. Either way, poor inventory management is the culprit.

The world of online shopping has magnified the inventory management problem for retailers. Prior to online shopping, consumers had no choice but to wait for an item to be restocked by the retailer or simply visit another of the retailer’s locations. Today, consumers are just a few clicks away from finding the exact same item and having it delivered to their doorstep within 24 hours – much faster than it would take the retailer to reorder and restock the same item. In fact, IHL Group states that 24% of Amazon shoppers first sought their desired item in a retail store.

The Future of Retail

If a retailer was able to boast a 3.4% increase in same-store-sales, it would be a triumphant close to a magnificent year. Yet 3.4% in same-store-sales is exactly what retailers are losing due to poor inventory management practices that lead to out-of-stocks.

Retail executives are well aware of this problem. They have been implementing new processes, technologies and systems for several years trying to address the issue. Although some have seen improvements, most are still unhappy with their in-stock positions. To date, many experts point to only one technology as the savior against brick-and-mortar decline – RFID.

When utilized properly, RFID technology allows retailers, at store level, to know exactly what inventory they have in the store and its precise location. When integrated properly with other store systems, it can be used to ensure stock replenishment occurs before an out-of-stock situation damages a customer/retailer relationship. RFID also reduces “sweethearting” by dishonest employees, and virtually eliminated Refund Fraud by those attempting to obtain refunds for merchandise never purchased.

The face of the LP/AP professional is changing, and how it changes is really up to these professionals themselves. Those who elect to maintain the status quo within their currently defined duties will find themselves struggling to compete within the next few years. However, those who have the courage to walk into the CEO’s office and ask to get involved in solving the inventory management epidemic will undoubtedly flourish in this crazy new World of Retail.

Crawl Before You Walk – Walk Before You Run

The beauty of today’s RFID technology offerings is that retailers do not have to take a full plunge right away. It is not necessary to implement an entire RFID infrastructure in order to adopt the technology. Many retailers choose to begin with RFID-capable EAS systems. These systems act as traditional EAS, yet they have the capability of reading RFID tags when the retailer is ready to implement that particular phase of their RFID endeavor.

LP/AP executives have an obligation to offer up solutions to their respective organization’s profitability woes. This obligation doe not begin and end with theft prevention, fraud prevention and paperwork/pricing errors. Those days are long gone. Today’s LP/AP executives must become knee-deep in all aspects of profit erosion, such as out-of-stocks. Inventory Management is at the core of what LP/AP teams do. Ensuring inventory and pricing accuracy, coupled with protecting inventory from theft and fraud make up the ingredients required for the most successful retail Loss Prevention and Asset Protection careers.

Change in the retail industry has us all in check. It’s your move.

“In times of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.” Eric Hoffer

Want to learn more?

Download our eBook “20 Loss Prevention Must Haves” and find out what EAS features will allow you to cut your losses by an additional 20% and build a competitive advantage at the same time.

The Evolution of “Saving the Sale” and What It Means Today | Part 3 of 3

So far in this three-part series on how to “Save the Sale”, I have covered:

In this third and final part to this “Save the Sale” series, the discussion will slightly shift toward the challenges retailers experience when attempting to digitize their business model to increase sales by enhancing their customers’ experiences.

Seek First to Understand (the Challenges)

In a recent article entitled, The Digitalized Retail Store – a Conversion Driver or a Giant Headache?, author Tom Vieweger highlights the challenges retailers face when digitizing their operations, as well as the steps retailers must take to successfully accomplish this relevant transition. Vieweger states retailers must first lay a foundation, meaning whatever “digital touch points” a retailer utilizes (i.e., displays, in-store kiosks or smart mirrors), they can only drive conversion if the promoted products are actually available.

 

To accomplish the next step laid out by Vieweger, retailers must “play, measure, learn & adjust,” meaning they need to learn how customers react to offering new services so they can begin innovating with customers, as opposed to for customers. The third and final step Vieweger lays out for retailers looking to successfully digitize is to stay flexible by removing internal barriers while creating new, agile approaches that can be adjusted as technology changes.

The bottom line? Accurate, real-time stock information is essential for any organization launching into this new world of retail. Launching new digital initiatives that inspire customers to purchase more items, only to be disappointed when the item is not in stock, will only serve to damage a retailer’s brand and alienate customers. RFID and EPCIS standards are the keys to success in this arena, as RFID enables a high stock accuracy while EPCIS is a standardized protocol to exchange information on RFID events.

Secure Self/Mobile Checkout: Lessons from US & UK Retailers

At the Retail Industry Leaders Association’s (RILA) Asset Protection Conference that will be held April 29 – May 2, 2018 in Orlando, Fl., retailers and academia team up to present an education session entitled, Teaming Up to Secure Self/Mobile Checkout: Lessons from US & UK Retailers. In light of the fact that self-reporting by retailers, video, and other evidence indicates current mobile checkout and self-checkout business models may be creating significant losses and inventory distortions, Read Hayes of the University of Florida & the Loss Prevention Research Council (LPRC), and Adrian Beck of the Department of Criminology, University of Leicester, teamed up with retailers to produce this engaging, value-packed session that will address the technologies needed to effectively play in the new retail landscape.

Attendees will hear from these respected academics who will share their latest research findings on the nature and extent of the risk posed by self-scan systems, together with retailers who are utilizing this technology in their businesses. If you have not already registered to attend this conference, you may do so by clicking here. This is a session you will not want to miss!

 

The Meeting You Need at the Time You Need it
Nedap will be displaying their latest RFID technology, including RFID-based EAS, at this year’s RILA Conference April 29 – May 2, 2018 in Orlando, Fl This is the perfect opportunity for you to stop by Booth 626 to experience firsthand how RFID provides the technological foundation needed to successfully launch a self-checkout or mobile pay platform while still protecting your merchandise.

If you would prefer to schedule a meeting with us at the RILA Conference, you may do so by clicking here.

The Evolution of “Saving the Sale” and What It Means Today | Part 2 of 3

I recently started a series on the evolution of the phrase “Save the Sale” and what it means today.  Part One discussed the definition of “saving the sale” and how not saving the sale impacts inventory and shrink.  Part two discusses the importance of having merchandise available and how mobile payment is becoming the standard to keep impatient customers fulfilled in this omnichannel world.

“Saving the Sale” is means merchandise need to be available of course and retailers must make it a seamless checkout experience.  Here’s additional detail on “saving the sale” solutions:

Merchandise Simply Available is Saving the Sale
Nedap offers practical solutions to typical challenges retailers face worldwide. Our mission is to make it simple for retailers to always have the right products available. We help you to make sure your customers feel they are the entire focus of your attention – that they can find whatever they want, wherever and whenever they want it – because your products are in stock and on the right shelf. Nedap’s solutions also help ensure your store teams spend less time looking for missing products and spend more time serving your customers.

Saving the Sale with Seamless Mobile Checkouts
The way consumers shop has changed dramatically over the past decade. The ‘traditional’ way of shopping; entering a physical store, choosing items and then lining up to pay at the checkout has been completely revolutionized. An increasing number of retailers are offering alternatives to the traditional point-of-sale by offering the possibility for their customers to make payment on their personal mobile devices. However, these ‘seamless checkout experiences’ tend to conflict with traditional EAS solutions. Nedap showcases how mobile payments can be combined with RFID-based EAS systems to effectively prevent merchandise from being stolen throughout the mobile pay process.

Seamless and cost-efficient security with RFID tags makes this solution sustainable. Additionally, Nedap’s solutions integrate nicely with existing systems, and the ability to use existing barcodes makes it even easier to adopt.

As digital sales continue to rise, it’s never been more important for retailers to optimize their checkouts in stores.

Use In-Store and Cloud-Based Technology to Save the Sale

RFID-based EAS
The role of electronic article surveillance antennas at the entrances and exits of stores have also changed. Traditional EAS systems alarm on active tags leaving stores, but intelligent article surveillance systems are capable of not only recognizing specific items. They can also detect and trigger alarms for several different scenarios. These systems are more advanced than ever before. Within this modern retail environment, Nedap distinguishes different levels of intelligent article surveillance to meet the needs of each retailer, all with one thing in mind: We make it simple for retailers to always have the right products available.

!D Cloud
Making sure that a product in the right size and the right color is available for your customers is crucial these days. However, merchandise availability should not result in overstocked stores and the associated high capital cost. That is why having accurate stock information at all times is key. RFID technology makes it possible to automate in-store stock management – resulting in optimal merchandise availability for customers and an in-store stock accuracy of over 98%.

To enable a fast RFID deployment and optimum scalability, Nedap has designed !D Cloud. !D Cloud is a cloud-hosted software suite that functions as a scalable integration layer between the existing ERP system and RFID readers. There is no need to replace existing IT infrastructures, add any new in-store infrastructure, or change the current ERP system.

Stay tuned for the conclusion to the series next week.

The Evolution of “Saving the Sale” and What It Means Today | Part 1 of 3

Reflecting upon recent conversations I’ve had with Loss Prevention (LP) leaders, I have noticed an interesting shift in the way inventory shortage, or shrinkage, is being talked about. Over the many years I have been in the retail loss prevention industry, I have seen the focus of loss prevention leaders volley from one thing to the next. Robberies, employee theft, shoplifting and Organized Retail Crime (ORC) are still some of the most commonly talked about LP issues. However, these discussions are no longer solely focused on how these issues impact shrinkage. Most recently, these discussions focus on how these issues impact sales.  After all, retailers cannot sell off empty shelves.

The phrase “Save the Sale” started to surface in 2009, but it has recently gained ever more momentum.  Loss Prevention executives from retailers of all kinds are being charged with “Saving the Sale” in all areas of their focus.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be publishing a series on how Saving the Sale affects you and how you can help your organizations “Save the Sale.”  Here’s the first two critical points to saving the sale:

Save the Sale Means Real-Time Access to Inventory
Retailers like Macy’s and The Children’s Place are still hot on ‘omnichannel retail,’ which is the term used to describe how retailers connect online and offline shopping behaviors. In a recent article in Forbes Magazine, Macy’s Executive Chairman, Terry Lundgren, stated that Macy’s is continuing to see serious growth in the area of “buy online, pick up in store” (BOPUS). He believes “physical stores are not going away,” and that, “customers will always want the option of coming into the store to try on jeans instead of buying three different sizes online.”

In this same article, Jane Elfers, CEO of The Children’s Place, stated her organization is also making a “big move towards digital and employing a lot of the omnichannel use cases like BOPUS and ‘Save the Sale.’” The article goes on to acknowledge that ‘Save the Sale’ requires store associates to have the ability to access real-time inventory across the network of stores, and that this inventory access enables store associates to keep customers from walking away from a purchase by finding their desired item online or at another store location with ease.

Failing to Save the Sale Increases Shrink

People rarely consider that sales directly impacts reported shrinkage percentages. The most successful loss prevention executives understand that when sales are up, shrinkage often decreases. Conversely, when sales are soft, the reported shrinkage percentage often increases. This is because shrinkage is typically reported as a percent-to-sales. This is calculated by dividing the total dollar amount of inventory shortage by the total sales. For example, if a retailer that does $3 million/year in sales takes inventory and determines $100,000 of inventory is unaccounted for, they simply divide $100,000 by the $3,000,000 and report a 3.33% shrinkage rate.

This means that if the inventory shortage of $100,000 stays the same, but sales increase to $3.2 million/year, their reported shrinkage rate decreases 20 basis points to 3.13. Conversely, if sales decrease to $2.8 million, their reported shrinkage rate would increase by 24 basis points to 3.57%. This is partly why retail’s classic saying – “Sales cures all ills” – has stood the test of time.

Stay tuned for the next in the series, “Seamlessly Saving the Sale”…

Customer Experience is Mobile Payment

The recent news of Macy’s rolling out a mobile POS checkout solution to the majority of its stores, simply underscores the certainty that mobile payment isn’t a luxury for customers anymore, but a necessity for competing in today’s environment.

This week Europe’s first checkout-free consumer electronics store was opened by MediaMarktSaturn, while Decathlon opened their first US store in San Francisco.  These trends mark an impending global shift to mobile payment and soon, customers will expect it.

With both retailers, customers simply pay for items using a mobile app.  Mobile payment is unavoidable to focus on your customers’ experience and to ensure you’re staying relevant and competitive.

For Loss Prevention professionals, the key challenge to overcome is how to protect merchandise in such a fluid payment environment.  One of the most secure and accurate ways to protect retailers’ merchandise is to utilize technology that resides in the cloud.  Check out how Nedap tackles the challenges presented by mobile payment systems in an effective way while producing a stellar Return on Investment (ROI).

 

The Consumer Push for Mobile Pay Checkouts

“What’s a Cashier?”

Checkouts haven’t changed since the beginning of retail. Sure, there are different models of the checkout, such as customer-unload designs, cashier unload designs, and even self-checkouts. But all of these types of checkouts have one thing in common: Cashiers.

With the Mobile revolution and the continued development of RFID technology, checkouts as we know them will soon be a thing of the past. This is not just a sci-fi vision into some impossible future. This is our new reality. Some say that within the next 10-20 years, children will be asking, “What’s a cashier?”

Winners Always Want the Ball

Some retailers will wait on the sidelines as their more in-tune-with-reality competitors pass them by in this new world. Unfortunately for them, they may never recover. In his recent blog, The Missing Piece in the Mobile Payment Puzzle and How RFID Completes It, RFID expert Hilbert Dijkstra lays out not only the benefits of mPOS, but also how retailers can protect their merchandise in this new, fresh and exciting retail environment.

The new world of mPOS still has unclaimed land, meaning there are still creative ways to deploy it. This is demonstrated in our whitepaper, How to Prevent High Shrinkage Levels When Introducing Mobile Checkouts in Retail Store. As stated in the whitepaper, Apple stores employ a unique version of mPOS. Any Apple employee walking the sales floor carries an iPad that allows them to ring up customers where they stand, thereby eliminating lines that traditional checkouts still contend with. This system of ringing sales may work well for Apple, but other retailers are experimenting with an even more unique way to use mPOS: one that involves RFID.

Leveraging Labor

There are many forward-thinking retailers today who understand the importance of being on the leading edge. Those first to adapt to the consumers’ push for mPOS will reap the rewards that come with building strong brand loyalty. But other benefits, such as labor reallocation or reduction, can be realized with mPOS.

mPOS retail mobile checkout

Imagine a customer walking into an apparel store. She sees a handbag she wants and simply scans the item using her smartphone, then exits the store. Far-fetched? Not at all. Some retailers are already doing this, while others are still wondering when the right time is to start their RFID journey. But one thing is for sure. Customers will flock to those utilizing this RFID technology.

Omnichannel Bliss

The use of RFID with mPOS is not the only benefit to retailers. Those in the omnichannel space also need RFID to solve their customer service woes. To successfully implement omnichannel strategies like click&collect or ship from store an accurate stock is a must have. When items that are ordered for instore pick up or to be send from the store are not  the apologies that ensue does little to help the brand damage that takes place each time this type of incident occurs. To read more on why RFID is the true omni channel enabler, please read more here.

With the introduction of mPOS to the market, omnichannel has come full circle. Now, when customers arrive to pick up the items they already paid for online, they can simply arrive at the store, select their purchased item, scan it out and leave. No lines. No hassle. No employees needed.

This is an interesting time in the world of retail, and consumers are in the stands patiently waiting to cheer for and support the retail winners who want the ball. Who will that be?

About Nedap

Nedap’s retail loss prevention products include electronic article surveillance, RF EAS systems, RFID EAS systems, Customer Counting and Retail Store Access Control systems.  Nedap’s retail solutions are based on intelligent identification and registration of people, animals and objects, or on innovative, ‘green’ electronic controls and power supplies. Innovation is driven by clients’ operations: systems are developed and adapted to optimize clients’ production and information processes.

Nedap brings 40 years of global experience, market expertise and close cooperation with leading retailers. Everything Nedap Retail does is driven by their mission to make it simple for retailers to always have the right products available. To achieve this, Nedap Retail offers industry-leading solutions for their customers’ diverse needs in loss prevention and stock management. For more information, visit Nedap Retail’s website: www.nedapretail-americas.com.

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