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How SML’s RFID Solutions is Helping World’s Top Brands: Retail Technology Show 2022

This year’s Retail Technology Show (RTS) reunited the UK industry for the first time in two years, bringing together retailers, vendors, thought-leaders, and trailblazers from around the world.

This year’s Retail Technology Show (RTS) reunited the UK industry for the first time in two years, bringing together retailers, vendors, thought-leaders, and trailblazers from around the world. SML RFID made sure to not miss out on the action, exhibiting at the two-day event, with CTO and SVP Dean Frew also hosting a panel discussion on the current boom in item-level RFID adoption within the supply chain.

RTS 2022 brought together more than 6,000 attendees, over 200 exhibitors, 90 expert speakers, and over 80% of the UK’s top 25 retailers and brands. With retail finally face-to-face in England’s capital after a long hiatus, what trends and takeaways will be shaping the sector in the coming months and years?

Don’t overcomplicate the retail fundamentals

Getting swept up in the latest fad can be damaging to brands. Whilst being aware of trends and innovative ideas is always key – such as how BOPIS and BORIS offerings boomed within the past year as retailers look to navigate the new era of retail – it is vital to not lose sight of the basics.

SML’s recent research, ‘State of Retail Insight Report: Better Serving Customers Through Technology’, found that 43% of retailers believe enhanced stock level visibility would help them better serve customers and increase the overall customer experience. The report also found that 48% of UK and US retail decision-makers experience that out-of-stock items are the primary challenge for retailers in the current climate.

Indeed, as John Cooper, Senior Merchandising, Supply, Applied Analytics & Transformation at George Clothing (part of Asda Group), commented at SML’s RTS panel, “We were losing 30% of our inventory before RFID. In-store we could see empty shelves, but our systems were saying the stock was there. Of our customers who complained, 50% commented on size availability and it was causing us to lose customers.”

He continued: “After rolling out RFID, we saw 50% of our out-of-stocks that we replenished sold within a matter of weeks – the impact was significant.”

Retailers must enhance their supply chain efficiency and retail inventory software, and ensure they have the technology and processes in place; pain points such as poor inventory visibility will only be enhanced otherwise.

The long-term implications of COVID

Lockdowns are long behind us, but many areas of retail are still feeling the effects. For many retailers who had taken advantage of RFID before the pandemic began, they had a significant competitive advantage in not losing stock in the supply chain due to poor inventory management.

During SML RFID’s panel, Mattias Sjostedt, Product Owner, In-Store Stock Optimization at H&M Group Business Tech, explained the impact on H&M’s retail: “COVID was a catastrophe for everyone. Without RFID and having that level of accuracy, we would have really struggled to recover once our stores reopened. When they did open and people came back, thanks to RFID we immediately knew what we had and what we could sell so we were able to bounce back quicker.”

Retailers are now looking at different ways to utilize item-level RFID and other technologies to enable new experiences in-store and at home. At the show, Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology demonstrated how retailers can be experimental with stores, looking at space and formats to make physical shopping a frictionless experience. Item-level technology such as SML’s RFID solutions is a crucial way to deliver this service and keep inventory management up to date in real-time.

In-person is not over!

The essential parts of retailing, such as those in-person interactions, are something that retailers are keen to not miss out on after so much change has happened over the past few years.

Being able to rely on technology to improve the in-person experience is crucial, explained Johan Stenström, Supply Chain Developer at Stadium, at the SML RFID panel: “Pre-RFID, if a customer came and asked for a specific product, you would always have that uncertainty about not knowing where it was and struggling to locate it. Now with RFID, staff have a new level of confidence which saves us time and makes our customer interactions so much better.”

This year’s event showed everyone what we had been missing through lockdown. Bringing the industry together to demonstrate innovation and network with fellow experts, RTS proved in-person events – and indeed in-person retail – has not gone for good.

As Dean Frew, CTO and SVP of SML RFID, commented: “There is no show like this in the UK. If you are a retailer and looking for the latest innovations to help your business, this is the show to come to.”

To watch the full panel discussion with H&M, Stadium, and ASDA, hosted by Dean, visit: https://www.sml.com/resources/sml-rfid-customers-share-benefits-of-item-level-rfid-for-retail-at-rts-2022/

To find out more about how item-level RFID can enable your business to adopt these trends, contact info@sml-rfid.com