Item-Level RFID Essential for Omni-Channel Strategies

Technology has done a lot to improve the shopping experience in recent years, but inventory visibility is still surprisingly weak. Most retailers are still guessing how much inventory is in stock at certain times. While their desire to promise consumers as much as possible is understandable, there are several reasons that even the closest estimates will not suffice.

According to the Digitally Demanding Consumer Report from Kibo, 95 percent of consumers prefer some type of omni-channel service when they are shopping. More than half of people say they would shop elsewhere if the method of delivery they prefer is not available, even if they have purchased from a retailer may times in the past.

Benefits for Retailers and Manufacturers

This is where item-level RFID can prove essential. Not only can it provide inventory visibility in real time, but it can also ensure order accuracy. When used in conjunction with Electronic Product Codes (EPC), data can be shared across different retail systems, enhancing supply chain interoperability.

The benefits are even greater when EPC-enabled RFID tags are used on individual items rather than just being attached to pallets or cases. This gives users the power to carry out outbound reads at the manufacturing site, inbound reads at the domestic distribution center, and outbound reads as shipments are en route to retailers. This trail of “digital breadcrumbs” gives retailers the precise data they need to ensure they can meet the promises they make to their customers.

Research carried out by Kurt Salmon shows that nearly three fourths of all retail trading partners are either already using item-level RFID or are in the process of setting it up. This allows them to boost their inventory accuracy at the SKU level from 63 to 95 percent, according to research from Auburn University’s RFID Lab. It also makes it easier for retailers to reorder, improve demand planning, and communicate with manufacturers. On the part of manufacturers, meanwhile, RFID tagging can bring about an 80 percent improvement in accuracy for shipping and picking.

With such remarkable statistics, it’s hard to dispute the value of item-level RFID. This step cannot be ignored if you want your omni-channel strategies to truly pay off.

This blog post was based off of an article from Material Handling and Logistics. View the original here.

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