Dean Frew, CTO & SVP of RFID Solutions at SML Group explains how retailers can use RFID technology to elevate the customer experience.
Customer shopping behaviours have continued to evolve in recent years, driven by mobile on-demand shopping, multiple ways to research and purchase items, and an overall desire for more choice. As a result, retailers have had to keep up with those changing needs as they try to outperform the competition – rolling out omnichannel and multichannel offerings has been key in enabling retailers to elevate their level of customer service. However, with customers’ expectations constantly evolving, having an effective omnichannel solution is no longer about giving retailers a competitive edge, it’s now a necessity to survive.
Buy-online-pick-up-in-store (BOPIS) and Buy-online-return-in-store (BORIS) are increasingly two of the most critical strategies required to help fulfil customer demand and drive traffic to stores. They also serve as the final touchpoint in the customer experience process for many, making it critical that they are executed successfully. By taking advantage of item-level RFID technology and its ability to significantly increase inventory accuracy for BOPIS, it can become a highly relied upon technology. In addition, the modern customer expects a seamless omnichannel experience and leveraging new technologies is an effective way to achieve this.
The role of BOPIS and BORIS
Consumers today expect a flawless experience when purchasing products. Whether this is online, in-store, or both, retailers must be able to adapt and find new ways to fulfil customer orders effectively. The implementation of retail technology in physical stores is intrinsic to a fully-functional retailer, providing both an increased level of customer experience and satisfaction, as well as improved employee morale as store staff feel equipped with the tools they need to perform their duties effectively.
RFID technology allows employees to focus on providing a seamless customer experience rather than manually checking inventory – a time consuming and often inaccurate task. BOPIS is revolutionising retail during a critical time, consolidating a hybrid shopping experience where customers can buy items online before picking them up in a physical store. BOPIS and BORIS provide retailers with the opportunity to drive additional customers to stores and create brand loyalty when the process is executed well.
The RFID solution
RFID technology offers retailers the ability to gain complete visibility of all stock across their entire estate, no matter where in the supply chain as the technology can help stores raise their inventory accuracy significantly. Beyond the RFID benefits of inventory management, the retailer can change the way they serve customers, providing shoppers with real-time information and greater product availability – in the styles, sizes, and colours they want.
By leveraging item-level RFID and combining the technology with BOPIS and BORIS models, retailers can offer shoppers an increased level of convenience and meet the demand of their customers. By simply giving customers the option to purchase items from home before travelling to pick up items, the purchasing process is streamlined and appeals to the customers desire of convenience. This offering is a differentiator that has allowed retailers to connect with shoppers in stores who alternatively would have relied on online-only competitors for their purchases.
BOPIS and the future of retail
Implementing retail technologies such as RFID enables retailers to track their stock levels and inventory accurately and efficiently across multiple platforms, and apply this critical data to drive improved BOPIS and BORIS performance. It also reduces order completion times with RFID-enabled item search functionality, reducing cancelled orders and meeting customer demands for faster order pickup availability. In turn, this not only provides an opportunity for increased sales in the immediate future, but it also provides the potential for increased market share and more sustainable processes in the long term.
As we emerge into a new era of retail, the emphasis will be placed on how retailers can work smarter, shifting talent and resources from carrying out routine tasks such as counting inventory and searching for items and instead focusing on growing sales by engaging with customers. Consumer behaviours have changed as they expect a seamless omnichannel experience, and retailers need to adapt in order to deliver more effective experiences, including BOPIS and BORIS, for an elevated customer experience.