Retailers, manufacturers see value in RFID for inventory visibility

By: Teamwork Retail

Radio frequency identification tools are becoming popular solutions among retailers eager to gain insight into their inventories. The newly published 2014 GS1 US Standards Usage Survey discovered nearly 60 percent of companies are currently deploying RFID, while more than 19 percent expect to implement the technology in the next year. Another 10.5 percent of respondents anticipate adopting the systems within 13 to 24 months. Nearly half of the polled retailers’ apparel and general merchandise items currently have RFID tags.

The study also found more than 48 percent of manufacturers are in the process of deploying RFID, with another 21.1 percent expecting to launch the solutions in the next year. More than 18 percent of respondents from this sector will implement RFID in the next 13 to 24 months. These companies reported that 40 percent of their apparel and general merchandise products have RFID tags.

“Retailers are adopting RFID to gain insight into critical inventory.”

Bill Hardgrave, founder of the RFID Lab at Auburn University and dean of the institution’s Harbert College of Business, said the study’s findings show the retail sector is at a tipping point regarding the adoption and use of RFID systems. Today, RFID has evolved from a concept to a tool supporting omni-channel strategies with inventory accuracy capabilities amounting to 95 percent, an Auburn University report found.

The Auburn research also noted RFID helps retailers improve sales, boost profit margins, achieve expedited returns and minimize out-of-stock situations.

Melanie Nuce, vice president of apparel and general merchandise at GS1 US, said both retailers and manufacturers are experiencing how RFID can help them achieve long-term benefits.

“As industry collaboration and discussion grows, it will be difficult for companies to ignore RFID’s role as a critical enabler of inventory visibility and the seamless customer experience,” Nuce added.

Seamless experiences are crucial for omni-channel retailing
With more customers purchasing items from various devices – PCs, tablets and smartphones – retailers have to focus on supporting audiences through comprehensive omni-channel strategies. If customers enjoy a positive experience shopping online, they likely expect similar results when visiting e-commerce Websites or using mobile applications.

Data tracking is also improved with RFID. Companies with mobile retail POS software backed by cloud computing environments are able to gain real-time insight into information generated by RFID tags, which allows them to find out where products are located. Businesses can also determine how certain items are performing to create future promotions based on customer preferences, offering more personalized service across the entire organization.

The global RFID marker still has significant room for growth.The global RFID market still has significant room for growth.

Future RFID marketplace is set
An IDTechEx report found the global RFID marketplace was worth roughly $9 billion in 2014, up from approximately $7.8 billion in 2013 and $7 billion in 2012. The analysis predicted the industry will swell to more than $27.3 billion by 2020.

The retail sector in particular is contributing to this growth. In 2014, companies in this segment were responsible for 3 billion RFID labels being used for apparel tagging. What is perhaps most telling about the maturity of RFID in general is that IDTechEx indicated the technology only penetrated approximately 7 percent of the apparel market last year.

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