Technology as tools for inventory management had retailers all a-buzz at this year’s National Retail Federation Big Show. That’s because to stay in the game, retailers must compete with Amazon, which continues to dominate the online shopping scene. To do that, retailers must have an effective inventory management strategy for streamlining the omnichannel buying experience for its customers.
Though shoppers like to have the option of choice and still prefer “to shop at retailers with both an online and a physical presence,” if the merchandise isn’t there, the shoppers won’t be either. It’s all about tight inventory control. Inventory management is key to retailer survival.
At the show, Carrie Ask, the executive vice president and president of global retail for Levi’s said, "In-store inventory insight is an age-old problem for retail. ‘Out of stock' and 'couldn't find my items' are two top purchase barriers."
To minimize the problem of lost inventory, retailers are paying more attention to radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, which was one of the hot trends highlighted at the Big Show. Retailers are realizing that RFID, which has long been used to track theft and loss, is a technology tool that has potential for improving inventory management accuracy “from warehouse to the store floor” by tracking inventory in real time.
In fact, according to a survey by Zebra Technologies, “companies using RFID sensors in their products achieve an average of 95 percent accuracy with their inventory counts.” The survey also revealed that out-of-stock problems were reduced by 60 to 80 percent and total sales increased by six percent.
Clearly, RFID, an inventory tracking technology that has been around for 20 years, has finally heated up as a trending tool for improving accuracy in inventory management.