More and more customers prefer to shop online, at a time which suits them. This is not just confined to the B2C market, it is now common practice for buying departments to purchase this way too.
So how can Manufacturers, Wholesalers and Retailers both implement and benefit from automating the way they operate? First of all Companies must develop a “true” online shopping experience for their customers, or in other words, enable them to view, select and buy an item from a specific store location in real time, 24/7
For this to work a Company must have in place accurate real time stock availability in each of their physical locations, something which is usually not possible with a standard barcode labelling system. A lot of the time physical stock of goods does not match what the stock control system is showing, and to get Staff to go and check manually what’s in store is too costly and very often not practical.This failing means that online availability numbers cannot be relied upon, which in turn can lead to lost business and lost opportunity.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)
With RFID the key phrase is Automation of Movement. Unlike Barcode labels which can only be read manually when the label is in plain sight, RFID tags can be read from up to 30′ away, with the tag not needing to be in plain sight. Automating the arrival and removal of goods, from a specific location enables an accurate physical stock count. In addition, RFID tags can carry much more data than a barcode label, which includes having additional data written on to them.
A UHF Handheld Passive RFID Reader can read 100’s of tags in seconds, this massively reduces stock taking time and resources. A Reader can also locate a tag through a sound finder, which increases in volume when in proximity to the tag, greatly reducing stock search times.Stock discrepancies are a thing of the past as actual stock count will automatically match book stocks, 24/7.
Multi-Site stock management and availability is a critical part of an Omni Channel Solution. From the start of a production line to the sale to a customer, plus returns if applicable, goods can be virtually tracked and located online in real time.
Clever use of mapping technology can be used to show what is where in each location, across the whole Country from a single click of a button on a mobile phone.
How RFID can work in a Retail Supply Chain.
- Replaces barcode with a smart RFID Label
- Can create auto (hands free) tracking through their production process or, just
- Finished Goods and Inventory management.
- Accurate distribution, automate despatch, track on the road, and receipt of goods
- Full visibility of Product movement.
- Create added value to the Distributor able to read and record product arrival automatically
- Prevent counterfeit goods, with unique tag encoding, reduce business losses.
- Install fixed RFID Readers and screen displays at their Goods in/out bays.
- Manufacturers shipping details sent whilst goods in transit, will enable RFID software to show what is expected.
- When goods arriveactual readings at the Bay should match with what is expected, if not a screen display can show the discrepancy. Instant, automatedGoods in check.
- Goods moved to a stock location. These can be defined as reading zones, fixed or handheld readers can record where an item is stored.
- Exception alerts built into the System, real time performance indicators
- Data sent to SmarTrak, check what is actually leaving matches what should be leaving.
- Multi part tagging into a single finished Unit ID
- Tags can be added to parts or packaging for customer service reference.
- Goods arrival, movement, leaving all automated
- Often not practical for a Retailer to tag the goods they are selling, which is why the Supply Chain automation is critical to deliver an Omni Channel selling opportunity.
- Fixed RFID Readers at goods in point, updates stock records.
- Internal readers in store can keep accurate stock counts of every item being sold.
- Linking SmarTrak to the local EPOS system will further enhance automation and accuracy.
- Returned Goods with an RFID tag instantly recognised giving a clear record of movement.
- Handheld Readers used to significantly reduce stock taking times, from days to hours.
- Customer looks to order an item online at 1am from a specific store, to pick up the next morning, only a very accurate real time stock system will enable that to be possible.