By Dean Frew, CTO and Senior VP of RFID Solutions at SML.
Without question a busy retail period is hugely profitable for businesses. In particular, national and international events can present retailers with a number of significant business opportunities such as increased customer engagement, creating jobs for store associates and opportunities to drive sales at an exponential rate.
Major sporting events in particular offer retailers vast opportunities to take advantage of an increased customer demand. For example, this Summer's FIFA World Cup will see retailers experience an influx of customers looking to purchase replica shirts, electronics, food and alcohol. Yet, whilst these events encourage customers to spend more, it can also present a burden for retailers who aren't prepared for the sudden increase in customer interest.
Scoring an own goal with inventory management
One of the most prominent reasons retailers may struggle with a sharp rise in consumer demand is down to the fact they struggle to have an accurate view of their inventory. Not only does this lead to missed sales opportunities due to out-of-stock products and a poor customer experience, but can have long-term implications towards brand loyalty. After all, in an age where customer experience is key, why would they choose to shop with you if you don't have the correct stock?
Customers are most disappointed when the products they want are not available. This is often due to retail staff conducting manual stock takes and recording incorrect numbers. What's more, many retailers remain unaware that they have such poor view of their inventory. For example, many retailers believe that they have a clear view of their stock. Yet, the truth is that their stock accuracy can be as low as 68% with items being easily misplaced or lost through the supply chain. Whilst this can just about be adequate for general day-to-day operations, it simply isn't good enough when there is sudden increase in customer demand as a result of a major event, such as the World Cup, driving sales.
Using technology to remain top of the table
It's apparent that retailers can struggle to have a clear visibility of their inventory and can experience challenges around customer demand in the run up to, during and following major events. However, having a clear and accurate view of inventory is key to utilising busy retail periods to drive sales.
More and more retailers are turning to the latest retail technologies that have established themselves as game-changers within the sector. Retailers are able to utilise technologies such as RFID to effectively manage their inventory and can see an accuracy level of up to 98%.
The technology can run in conjunction with major events and enable retailers to use the technology to enhance their daily cycle count as well as keep up with increased demands from customers who want products faster. In addition, retailers can carry out daily stock counts reading approximately 400 tags per second, per handheld to enable them to gain a near real-time high accurate inventory availability and therefore rapidly replenish stock accordingly.
National and International events present retailers with many opportunities to maximise sales and generate profits. However, if badly prepared, these opportunities soon become burdens and an increased customer demand can leave retailers scrambling to keep up with rising consumer interest.
Yet, with the range of solutions available and the cost of game-changing retail technology decreasing, out-of-stocks and bloated inventories should be a thing of the past. Utilising the right technologies will enable retailers to cope with rising customer demand, provide the correct products required and deliver an enhanced customer experience this Summer.