The Benefits of an RFID Counting System in Retail

The major challenge for retailers today post-COVID-19 lies in making customers feel safe returning to indoor shopping and having the products they want in stock every time an order is placed. The pandemic wreaked havoc on the retail supply chain, which is only now recovering.

Furthermore, inventory management is becoming increasingly difficult in the current omnichannel retail landscape, as more retailers offer the buy online and pick up in-store (BOPIS) option, as well as online sales and delivery.

As a result, many sales can be lost if there is stock inaccuracy. This is one area wherein RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) counting systems can benefit retailers. In addition, RFID can help retailers collect data that provides insight into new consumer behaviors and buying habits due to the pandemic.

What is an RFID Counting System? 

An RFID counting system uses radio waves to transfer and read data from RFID tags (minor chips) by a reader equipped with an antenna. The RFID reader then conveys that data on the tags to an asset monitoring system, where it is actioned, evaluated, and stored. 

Using RFID in retail presents many benefits and opportunities for retailers and sets them up for success, especially in a post-pandemic business environment.

Listed below are some of those benefits. 

1) Improving Stock Control

Stock control is essential in today’s retail establishments. The modern consumer expects to get what they want when they want it. If a retailer cannot provide a product immediately, customers are more likely to seek it from a competitor. Every sale counts, especially now that retailers are just beginning to recover from the effects of COVID-19.

The ability to track hundreds of assets at any given time is a crucial benefit of using an RFID counting system in retail. Furthermore, RFID systems can be used to update stock quantities whenever new stock is added to the inventory or stock is removed as a result of a sale.

Accurate inventory data allows retailers to manage their stock more efficiently because they can now conduct simple and quick stock checks that would have taken days to complete, ensuring shelves are replenished when needed.

After all, having consistently stocked shelves helps to improve the overall shopping experience and meet customer expectations. 

2) Enhancing the Shopping Experience

According to a post-COVID-19 customer report by Xpandretail, consumers are increasingly interested in receiving personalized shopping experiences even when visiting a retailer’s brick-and-mortar store.

Fortunately, because RFID systems have advanced capabilities, retailers can use them to create an exciting shopping experience for their customers. RFID was already creatively used to enhance the shopping experience in a physical retail store before the pandemic, particularly in creating self-service channels.

With stricter hygiene protocols for retailers and a push for contactless service, retailers will need to accelerate their adoption of RFID systems to provide their customers with a contactless shopping experience.

Tags can be used in place of barcodes to speed up and simplify the checkout process, and this eliminates the need for products to be scanned individually and manually. Instead, a local RFID reader would “read” all the tagged items in the basket simultaneously, reducing staff input, cutting down queueing time, and streamlining the payment process. 

For omnichannel strategies, RFID can be incorporated to enhance BOPIS services and expand payment options. 

RFID Counting Systems and Interactive Shopping 

One successful application of this has been in retail fashion. RFID technology is being used to create interactive fitting room mirrors. These intelligent mirrors can recognize products using RFID tags and automatically sync with a tracking system to provide customers with real-time product information such as stock and size availability. 

This interactive shopping experience gives customers a more personal and memorable connection to a product and, by extension, the retail brand, which is on-brand with post-COVID-19 consumer behaviors that place a premium on personalized shopping experiences. It is also an excellent way for retailers to distinguish their products and brand from competitors in the same industry.

3) Improving Data Capturing and Analytics

Data and analytics are one area where e-commerce appears ahead of brick-and-mortar retail establishments. This is due to the availability of opportunities and technology to track customers’ online journeys. Traditionally, retailers cannot track how customers move through their stores in great detail, and the data and statistics they collect are frequently outdated.

Using an RFID counting system, however, changes this. RFID enables retailers to track a customer’s journey through a store using RFID tags, providing valuable retail design and wayfinding data. Because of the RFID technology, retailers can see whether a customer buys an item, and it gets replaced with a different product later on and identify common paths customers take before purchasing once they have picked up an item. 

This gives retailers more detailed insights into how individual items are doing, including what variation of a particular product, sells the most. These are actionable insights, meaning that retailers use the data to improve their product offerings. 

RFID counting systems can also be used for footfall counting  in real-time. Footfall data can help retailers perform essential business functions, such as optimizing staff schedules and store layouts. Retailers can also use insights from footfall data to improve their in-store advertising by ensuring that content on digital signage responds in a specific way based on the action most customers take when browsing products.

Future Benefits of RFID in Retail 

With a focus on privacy and data, advanced RFID systems exist with the capacity to collect data at the after-sales and post-purchase levels, such as identifying what consumers purchase next and tracking repeat visits to stores (all anonymously, of course).

The applications for this will assist retailers in continuing to provide personalized shopping experiences to their customers long after they have left their store. 

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