One of the technological trends in consumer and retail process is finally taking off. The radio frequency identification technology, (RFID) could revolutionize the way retailing is done. It was first talked about in 2000 but it never came to fruition. The revolutionary aspect of RFID is that it automates tracking of merchandise throughout the retail supply chain from the warehouse to the retail floor. This reduces and replaces employee scanning of products manually. The technology can significantly improve inventory management for retailers and propel retail operations to new heights. E-commerce sales today are a juggernaut in that $427 billion flows through the supplier-to store/direct –to-consumer pipelines. As with many exponential technologies, the cost of RFID has reduced drastically from $1 in 2003 to roughly 10 cents today. Retailers are beginning to adopt the technology to access an item-level view of their in-store and online inventory.
Already RFID is being adopted by retail companies although in early stages. Macy, a departmental store, has already set up RFID to track every item across its fleet of stores and fulfillment centers by end of 2018. The company says it has already noticed improved sales and profitability across several product categories. Improving inventory accuracy and resulting benefits are being hailed as biggest benefits of RFID. With RFID, inventory accuracy improves from 63% to 95% as well as retail out-of-stocks by up to 50%.
Retailers are increasingly selling inventory from their online stores. There is also the growth of ‘buy online, pick in-store’ programs. Therefore accurately reading of where an item is at any given time improves the potential for seamless inventory management and sales. The challenge is to ensure that what customers orders online is actually in the inventory. This retail process '‘from warehouse to retail floor'’ is being made even better with Internet of Things (IoT). With IoT, everyday devices have IP addresses and can be connected to each other and computers and therefore managed and moved easily. The process of tracking goods electronically has been there for a while now but with IoT, it is becoming more enhanced especially in retail point of sale (POS).
Juniper research found out that retail spending on IoT could reach $2.5 billion by 2020 and IoT becomes an integral part of retail operations. RFID is just one element of IoT and this could be enhanced further as more hardware elements become linked to mobile POS systems such as Shoppi POS. Shoppi POS allows for real time order management in one place and users can see real time analytics. It is the first POS software with mobile marketing features. It allows for syncing with social media, PayPal integration, and high-reliability rate. Shoppi POS, therefore, is another important cog in retail experience and it not only improves inventory management and POS operations but also enhances customer shopping experience.