This holiday season could provide much-needed sales for businesses that were forced to change their retail strategy in 2020, due to the pandemic. But securing that revenue will require comprehensive inventory management that matches new consumer demands. Using shop floors as fulfillment centers and providing clear visibility into stock numbers can help merchants deliver an efficient, profitable offering for holiday 2020.
The shift in how people shop has impacted how retailers organize their inventory. Previously, stores have functioned as discovery spaces, with consumers able to choose from what is available in their immediate vicinity. But with the growth of e-commerce and “buy online, pickup in store” services, there is not always a match-up between online and offline availability – which can have big repercussions.
“In the past, when a shopper went into a store and couldn’t find an item, they may have selected an available alternative,” said Ashley Burkle, senior manager for retail at IoT solutions provider Impinj. “But today if a shopper buys an item online, then goes to pick it up and it is not there, their frustration level will be very high and loyalty to that retailer will be impacted.”
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In-store purchases are still happening, both organically and in the form of add-on sales after an initial online purchase. However, with so many consumers turning to e-commerce for their gift buying, the most important piece of the shopping journey will be to ensure the right item is available in the right location.
One way that retailers can improve their performance is to accurately communicate their stock numbers at the point of purchase, so that shoppers can select a pickup location that already has the item available. This shifts inventory that needs moving, while also helping shoppers to browse and select products by what’s available, in a replication of the in-store discovery experience.
“To address the fulfilment and demand complexities, retailers must have accurate data about every item in their stores and supply chain,” said Burkle. “When a retailer has accurate real-time data about everything in their inventory they know where to add, move, and promote that inventory – so they can sell it, and sell more of it at full price rather than at mark down.”
Impinj provides a connective platform through which companies can scale their digital transformation; it partners with leading technology solutions, including inventory management tools. Such tools can help collect, track and analyze product data, so that retailers can maintain visibility and make informed decisions. Impinj reports that RAIN RFID users, such as Nike, see inventory accuracy improve from 65% to over 95% and also see up to a 5.5% sales lift.
RAIN RFID can support retail staff in-store, as well as the broader e-commerce platform, as it includes an automated checkout that enables customers to ring up multiple items simultaneously without the need to scan each one individually. Faster than barcode scanning, this speeds up the checkout process which saves valuable employee time and makes the process more efficient for shoppers.
“The disruptive impact of COVID-19 has heightened the sense of urgency toward digital transformation,” said Burkle. “Today businesses can connect to, and engage with, some of the things that matter to them – but not all. The Impinj vision is people engaging with trillions of connected things from point of manufacture through the supply chain and ultimately to its home.”