Focused, carefully managed RFID initiatives designed to accomplish specific business goals are already producing significant, measurable benefits for the apparel and footwear industry, Item-level tags and in-store deployments are addressing some of the industry's most basic challenges, including out-of-stock levels, inventory accuracy, and helping customers quickly and easily find the size, style and color that they're looking for.
RFID's speed, accuracy and operational applications are being demonstrated in a growing number of realworld retail deployments. For example, item-level tagging is making daily cycle counts traditionally so time consuming and labor-intensive they take place only two to four times a year-not just possible but practical.
These and other RFID benefits are creating sales lifts ranging from 5 to 20 percent across a wide range of deployments.
Those stuck in a "Think Big" mindset- believing that RFID deployments must be large-scale, enterprise wide affairs in order to be effective - are mistaken, says Marshall Kay, Principal at consulting firm RFID Sherpas LLC. "Unfortunately, the retailers who make this error compound their problems by then failing to attach sufficient priority to educating themselves and staying abreast of successful retail deployments," says Kay, "What they fail to appreciate is that RFID can be deployed in a very targeted manner, and almost immediately begin delivering meaningful, tangible benefits."
A more focused, incremental approach also allows retailers to concentrate on the benefits that are most important to their business model. For example, a company might choose to focus its RFID efforts first on improving inventory management processes, such as cycle counts, safety stocking, or replenishment, or on enhancing customer service. After achieving its primary goals, the retailer can then reap additional benefits in areas such as loss prevention, authenticity guarantees/counterfeit prevention, and quality assurance. "Once you put a tag on an individual product, you'll want to use it for as many uses as possible," says Kay.
"Item-level RFID deployments are delivering higher sales, with increases ranging from 5 percent to 20 percent depending on the caliber of retail execution and the range of RFID applications deployed," says Marshall Kay, Principal, RFID Sherpas.RFID solutions help Best in Class retailers reduce:
Inventory replenishment time by 30 percent
Theft incidents by 42 percent
Price markdowns by 25 percent
Customer wait times at the POS by 25 percent
In addition, store-Ievel RFID applications offer several consumer benefits that can have a strong positive impact on customer service. These include:
Faster product location
Improved access to detailed product information
Improved access to product availability
Efficient after-sales processes
Guarantees of product authenticity
As beneficial as all these improvements are, for many retailers RFID's key benefit is its ability to increase topline sales. RFID Sherpas' Kay reports that item-level RFID deployments are indeed delivering higher sales, with increases ranging from 5 percent to 20 percent depending on the caliber of retail execution and the range of RFID applications deployed.
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