How RFID technology is revolutionising retail inventory management

In simpler times, retail inventory moved from factory or manufacturer, to warehouse or distributor, and then onto company-owned stores to be sold. In many cases, vertically integrated businesses controlled the entire ‘supply chain’, making stock and inventory control relatively straight-forward. 

Even in those days, however, stock takes to get an accurate account of inventory on hand took an inordinate amount of time, and sometimes led to retail outlets closing for up to a day to do the count (or staff working through the night to do it outside trading hours).

How times have changed. 

Specialisation, globalisation and technology have revolutionised retail operations. Manufacturers, distributors, logistics specialists and retailers now make up a global supply chain. And most retailers utilise a ‘clicks and mortar’ or omnichannel strategy to sell goods in stores and via company-owned or third party websites.

Where is my inventory, and how much have I got?

And still, counting stock is time-consuming. And inaccurate. Even with barcodes and scanners, the need for close proximity to scan potentially thousands of small items in a room one at a time means someone needs to spend a lot of time and effort to count everything, and the margin for error is extremely high. 

This is compounded by the imperative to put stock where it is needed by customers. Be they store walk-ins, ‘click and collect’ or online customers (the latter potentially anywhere in the world). 

Good retail inventory management is now a well-choreographed dance of fluid stock movements from point of production to many points-of-sale, to satisfy an insatiable demand by customers for instant gratification.

Retail stock management

RFID and retail inventory management

A retail revolution is at hand, and has been over a decade in the making. RFID technology is the answer to many questions being asked of retailers. RFID, or Radio Frequency Identification uses small chips or tags, affixed to individual inventory items, carrying a lot of data that is transmitted to RFID readers using very low power (or none at all).

Crucially, these tags can be ‘read’ at a distance, meaning that waving an RFID reader around a room full of stock can produce very accurate results, very quickly. In fact, RFID Journal estimated that average inventory accuracy increases from 65% to 95% with RFID technology.

And the use of RFID technology for inventory tracking can extend right through the supply chain. With RFID tags embedded at the point of manufacture, and fixed RFID readers placed strategically at critical points along the supply chain, accurate and real-time stock counts can be made as products move from manufacture to warehouse to store to sale. 

Completing the picture is specialised software as part of a complete RFID technology solution that delivers real-time information via dashboards to key stakeholders who can then make better, more informed business decisions with accurate data at their fingertips. 

RFID helps retailers know where inventory is, and to put it where it needs to be to meet customer demand.

How RFID makes retail better

The benefits of using RFID for retail inventory management go far beyond accurate stock counts at a moment in time, such as in a warehouse or store. 

Faster stock movement: RFID helps streamline warehouse processes, removing stock-counting bottlenecks and human intervention.

Fewer ‘out-of-stock’ situations: Knowing where stock is at a moment in time, and in what quantities, helps anticipate inventory usage accurately. RFID can also be used to trigger auto-ordering as inventory moves out of warehouses and stock levels get low. 

Less ‘safety stock’ needed: Accurate inventory counts means less need to have valuable working capital tied up holding buffer stock.

Reduced ‘shrinkage’: Slash shrinkage and stock loss by more than 50% to save replacement costs and the need for time-consuming audits. 

Less errors across the supply chain: With RFID tags affixed to inventory items at the point of manufacture, errors can be reduced across the entire supply chain. A study by Auburn University found that 69 per cent of orders that used barcodes contained an error, but with RFID this was reduced to just 0.01 per cent. 

Better reports, faster: RFID retail inventory management solutions improve real-time reporting accuracy for all stakeholders to make better business decisions.

RFID retail inventory solutions are proven to improve stock management to ensure the sales floor, or online retail store, are replenished for prompt stock turnover, ensuring increased customer satisfaction, reduced costs and improved revenue and margins. 

RFID helps manage everything from beer to bikinis

RAMP, the leading RFID specialists in Australia, has helped local manufacturers and retailers improve their inventory tracking with innovative RFID technology solutions

Lion Nathan keeps the beer flowing

No one wants to visit the pub with no beer. With eight breweries producing more than three million kegs of beer per year, Lion Nathan was dealing with millions of dollars of shrinkage annually, and downtime during peak periods when breweries experienced keg shortages. 

RAMP helped create a customised, innovative solution called KEGFLOW that utilised RFID tags welded to the entire keg fleet, complemented by keg line readers and bulk portals at key points in breweries and distribution centres. Handheld readers completed the picture, used as kegs arrived and left from customer premises.

With complete visibility of their keg fleet across the entire supply chain, from brewery to customer and back again, Lion Nathan now has accurate and real-time data about stock levels and keg utilisation, leading to increased overall efficiency for both Lion and their customers.

 

BAKU enjoys an endless summer

Iconic Australian swimwear brand BAKU needed a new way to manage a complex range of styles, prints, colourways and sizes that made up over 20,000 SKUs in the system at any time. The goal was to reduce out-of-stocks and maximise sales across retail and online channels. 

BAKU implemented a customised RFID technology solution that delivered real-time, accurate knowledge of all products across the entire supply chain and allowed rapid expansion of its omni-channel strategy. 

The implementation of RFID technology by BAKU resulted in faster stocktakes, rapid replenishment of fast-moving items from local manufacturing, increased inventory accuracy and reduced staff time counting and tracking thousands of items of stock.

Whether you sell beer, bikinis, or anything else, RAMP can customise an RFID solution to improve your inventory management and business outcomes. 

Join the RFID retail inventory management revolution

RFID technology solutions are proven to keep track of valuable stock and inventory in a fast-moving supply chain. With greater accuracy and real-time information, businesses can better meet customer demand, increasing customer satisfaction and retention.

At the same time, costs are reduced and staff can be redeployed from mundane and routine tasks to more productive, revenue-generating activities. When you need to improve retail inventory management, speed up your supply chain and gain valuable, real-time insights to make better business decisions, you need to talk to RAMP, the leading RFID specialists in Australia.