The Power of RFID In A Modern Supply Chain

The Power of RFID In A Modern Supply Chain

Consumers are more demanding than ever, and every segment of the modern supply chain can agree on that. Managing those growing expectations and demands is the challenge all supply chain partners face. Meeting those demands requires the right tools, technologies, and strategies.

Two trends exemplify this high level of demand: omnichannel experiences, and “frictionless” shopping. The former–omnichannel—means that consumers expect to seamlessly move between their laptops, phones, and brick-and-mortar shopping experiences. They want to buy online, go into stores, or pull up curbside for pick up.

Frictionless shopping is the next wave. Customers hope to see retailers adopt practices that will allow them to enter a store, pick up their products, and forgo scanning, lining up, or checking out. Retailers must adopt futuristic technologies, including biometrics and AI, to accomplish that.

While omnichannel is already in play, the frictionless experience is still in the future. However, to master either, companies must employ an older school technology: radio frequency identification (RFID). A wireless communication technology using radio waves to read information without a direct line of sight, RFID revolutionized the supply chain when it first came on the scene. Today, it is helping the modern supply chain evolve.

RFID tags or embedding the technology in labels allows retailers to access key information about a product at any stage in the supply chain. RFID can store details such as where a product was made, which store it shipped to, where it might have moved to, what size, color, or other details a product features.

Returning to omnichannel, if a customer selects a product online, purchases it, and plans to pick it up at a nearby store, the RFID tag will let the retailer know if that scenario is possible. While the customer might have been planning a pickup at a big box retailer five miles away, the item’s tag will reveal that it’s sitting in a nearby warehouse or store seven miles away instead. The consumer can then choose their preferred next step.

RFID provides companies with inventory accuracy as high as 99 percent. No labor is required for inventory counting, and companies can more easily provide an omnichannel experience by capturing the data from the tag.

When it comes to the frictionless experience of the future, when retailers embed RFID into items, customers will be able to move through their shopping experience without stopping. Scanners with long-range capabilities will scan the products in the customers’ carts, making the store experience easy and quick.

RFID tags embedded in items often targeted for theft will also provide an added layer of protection against loss prevention. Want to discourage theft in the first place? Display those tags front and center. Returns at the store level are also easier with RFID tags, and customers can return their items to whichever store they choose. In the meantime, the retailer can validate that the returned item is the real deal, not a fake return.

Are omnichannel experiences and “frictionless” shopping meeting consumers’ demands? Learn more about these two new consumer trends.