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Retail Technology: Bundle RFID, Digital Signage, and POS to Improve Your Bottom Line and Sales

Retail technology has become increasingly advanced. At the same time, customers have become more accustomed to using digital channels and devices in their interactions with retailers. For brick-and-mortar stores to continue to compete with online channels, they have to leverage technology in their daily operations to both increase sales and improve the shopping experience for their customers.

While there are plenty of new technologies on the market, the combination of advanced point of sale (POS) solutions, digital signage, and RFID tracking are poised to revolutionize the way retailers and customers interact in the store.

POS — More than Payment

POS systems are a retail technology that has evolved beyond the cash register. Advanced systems now provide payment management and data analytics capabilities that can help your store run better.

The analytics from a POS solution will provide data that can help you track sales and inventory, identify slow-moving merchandise, and help you make better decisions about what should (or shouldn’t) be on the shelf. That same data can also clue you in to when you are making sales, so you can adjust staffing levels for peak and slow sales periods.

Loss Prevention (LP) technology associated with the POS also makes it more difficult for employees to commit theft or fraud. By carefully tracking which employees were working at each station, and by monitoring both inventory and purchase data, you can more quickly be alerted to potential fraud and access detailed purchase records that will make it easier to find out exactly what happened and who was responsible.

A modern POS system also makes it possible for you to meet PCI security requirements, while taking new forms of payment (like PIN and chip cards, or phone payments), issuing gift and loyalty cards, and accepting coupons. All of these features can help bring in and retain new customers.

RFID Improves Inventory Visibility

Major retailers like Marks & Spencer, Saks, Bloomingdale’s, and Macy’s now use RFID at the store and shelf-level to track inventory. American Apparel claims it reduced internal shrinkage by an average of 55 percent across its RFID-enabled stores while increasing sales.

This retail technology provides real-time visibility across the supply chain, right down to the retail shelf. With tagged merchandise and handheld RFID scanners (or shelf-based systems) the time it takes to conduct in-store inventories can be slashed by as much as 80 percent to 85 percent. Real-time inventory information also makes it easier to avoid out-of-stocks by alerting staff when its time to restock based on preset shelf parameters. That can help avoid lost sales by making sure the items your customers want are always on the shelf.

In addition, real-time inventory visibility makes it possible to fulfill buy-online, pick-up-in-store (BOPIS) orders, which can further boost revenues.

RFID retail technology can also augment shrink-control efforts by providing a way to combine POS tracking with electronic article surveillance. Advanced systems can even tell you when something is taken from the shelf but doesn’t make its way to the check-out. For heavily shoplifted, high-value items, this type of advanced monitoring can quickly pay for itself via reduced theft.

Digital Signage in Action

A third retail technology, digital signage, can enhance internal marketing and advertising efforts. The signage is placed at the POS, at service points, at the shelf, and other high traffic areas. The signs can convey advertising and marketing messages, provide information about promotions or special pricing, and in some cases, even create customer-specific marketing messages based on shopper behavior.

Digital signage can reduce or eliminate the cost of printing in-store signage and advertising. It also provides upsell opportunities. Digital signage can encourage the purchase of specific premium brands when placed next to competitive items, for example.
A 2010 Nielson study of digital signage in grocery stores found that four out of five brands experienced increases of up to 33 percent in additional sales compared to the use of printed signage alone.

Integrated Customer Experience

By combining retail technology like POS systems, RFID, and digital signage, stores can also enable new ways to increase revenues and customer loyalty, while improving efficiency. Digital signage that is integrated with a shelf-level RFID solution can present shoppers with promotions or other complementary purchase suggestions based on the items they have removed from the shelf.

Using customer loyalty data and current purchase information at the POS, the solution could also generate additional promotions or incentives to get the customer to return to the store. This type of personalized shopping experience not only improves the image of the store, but also encourages additional purchases.

Shoppers use advanced technology every day, at work, at home, and even in their cars. Digital technology plays a larger role than ever in how customers research and purchase the goods they need. By integrating digital signage, POS solutions, and RFID, stores can leverage advanced retail technology to increase sales and improve the shopping experience for their customers.

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How Bakeries Can Benefit from RFID Tracking Solutions

One of the biggest challenges direct store delivery (DSD) operations face is the proper management of reusable containers.  This challenge is especially evident in the bakery industry, where reusable plastic trays are often used in the transportation, delivery, storage, and display of baked goods.  These plastic trays can often be lost or stolen during the delivery cycle, creating a significant asset management problem for bakeries. In addition to having trouble tracking the trays, bakeries must deal with the expenses associated with replacing lost trays.

The Problem

Whether bakeries are utilizing plastic trays or some other reusable container, the use of outdated or inefficient asset tracking technology is an unnecessary burden.  Bakeries that are unable to properly track their assets are susceptible to extra expenses and other financial problems.  Having to constantly purchase new trays or containers digs into profit margins and not knowing where assets are will lead to a decrease in productivity.

The Solution

The best way to gain complete control over assets is to employ an RFID tracking solution.  RFID tags can be embedded into reusable trays or other assets, making it easier than ever to track their locations.  The embedded RFID tags can also automatically trigger replenishment orders for specific locations that are running low. The RFID system must also be implemented in the manufacturing facility and delivery trucks in order to ensure that the trays/containers can be tracked throughout the delivery process.

Of course, installing an RFID tracking system is not a one step process. The bakery must be thoroughly analyzed before the system is designed and the RFID tracking system must be tested extensively to ensure that each aspect is working perfectly.

With RFID tracking systems in place, bakeries should have no problems tracking reusable assets.  Drivers are given mobile computers with attached RFID readers, enabling them to read the tags during the delivery and pick-up processes. Once the assets are returned, they are cleaned and then scanned again to ensure that the RFID tags are still in working order.  Any assets that have faulty tags can be taken out of production to be retagged.

Once products are loaded into the trays/containers, the RFID chips can be programmed to reflect the necessary product information.  The assets are scanned again at the loading dock and upon entering the trucks.  If any container is put into the wrong truck, an alarm will sound and corrections can be made; this ensures that every delivery is accurate.

When properly implemented, an RFID tracking system can make sure trays, containers, goods, and more can be accounted for – throughout the entire cycle.

The Benefits

An RFID tracking system should be put into action in stages, and staff will likely have to review operational processes to improve workflow, but the benefits it can provide outweigh these temporary inconveniences.  Bakeries with tracking systems in place can accurately track route deliveries, reduce or eliminate the loss of reusable assets, and even automatically generate replenishment orders.

Visibility is one of, if not the most, important aspects of the supply chain.  RFID is invaluable because it allows bakeries to see what’s going on at every stage of the delivery process.

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How Item-Level Tagging with RFID Media can Benefit Retailers

Over the course of the past decade, industries of all types have started to recognize the benefits of radio frequency identification, or RFID.  The retail industry is no exception: RFID provides a significant return on investment because it minimizes the effort needed to efficiently track and manage inventory.  Competitiveness in retail is at an all-time high, and every technology must be taken advantage of in order for businesses to stay profitable.

Inventory management is vital to the success of a retail store, but RFID also works to eliminate shrinkage while improving the customer experience.  Let’s take an in-depth look at how retailers benefit from item-level tagging with RFID media:

Accuracy and productivity

The ability to accurately track products throughout the entire supply chain is critical for businesses that want to minimize costs stemming from cycle and safety stock levels.  RFID media can be used to tag each item in an entire inventory, making it possible for retailers to achieve complete visibility for their supply chains.

Increased visibility leads to more accurate understanding of the inventory and smarter business decisions can be made as a result.  RFID technology is much faster and more reliable than time consuming line of sight cycle counts; businesses that take advantage of RFID stand to experience a great deal of savings on labor costs and are also able to manage labor efficiently.

Better security and less theft

The accuracy afforded by item-level tagging goes hand in hand with the prevention of theft and shrinkage. RFID is a great way to create accountability throughout the supply chain.  RFID badges can be used to monitor employees and their actions within a warehouse.  If items go missing, it is possible to determine which employee was in the area at the time of the theft.

RFID is able to prevent theft in most cases, but in cases where items are actually stolen, RFID tagging will let managers/owners know which items were stolen.  While this might not seem important, it is impossible to replace an item if you don’t know what it is. Failing to identify stolen items creates inventory inaccuracies.  Item-level tagging is paramount to the security of inventory.

Improved customer experience

A more accurate and efficient supply chain helps create an improved customer experience.  Even if a problem occurs in the warehouse, supply chains are fluid and inefficiencies are always liable to trickle down to the end user or customer.

Full inventory visibility allows business owners to have a better understanding of what it selling, when it is selling, and where it is selling.  If a store owner can see that a particular area or areas of his/her store is receiving more foot traffic, it is possible to adjust what products are in those areas.  Customers may naturally gravitate to certain aisles or sections of a store, so it would behoove a retailer to move higher-profit items to those areas.

Item-level tagging with RFID media offers retailers a wide range of benefits.  RFID tags can even automate inventory replenishment/ordering.  If an RFID reader is placed under a shelf, it can be set to notify a store rep or simply create an inventory order from an ERP system.