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Retailers must utilize RFID technology to manage seasonal peaks and promote retail inventory efficiency

The retail calendar has an endless rotation of seasonal peaks and valleys as shopping patterns are impacted by holidays and seasonal shifts.

The retail calendar has an endless rotation of seasonal peaks and valleys as shopping patterns are impacted by holidays and seasonal shifts. The traditional fourth-quarter peak season – from Black Friday to Boxing Day sales – is not the only significant selling period that retailers need to prepare for, as demands due to weather fluctuations and the Back to School period also offer windows to capitalize on increases in customer traffic.

Retailers must be attuned to how customer behavior has evolved post-pandemic and as a result, seasonal in-store traffic patterns may look different; it is critical to be prepared to convert those opportunities into sales.

Inventory management

Using data, most retailers will be able to predict demand and as a result, ensure adequate stock is available to meet increased sales. Equally as important, retailers can ensure they don’t have excess inventory during quieter periods or avoid a build-up of seasonal stock that has a short shelf life and could result in lost revenue or reduced margin as excess inventory is marked down. If retailers are operating off an inaccurately stated stock ledger, they will be unable to correctly replenish stores and the result is either missed sales opportunities or bloated store inventories.

Investing in a robust inventory management system – such as SML’s Clarity® – allows retailers to track stock throughout the supply chain, monitor stock levels, and facilitate stock replenishment. Implementing this technology can improve inventory accuracy by up to 93-99%, which is significant when complete visibility of your stock is crucial to meet seasonal demands.

Omnichannel approach

The benefits of an omnichannel approach for retailers are well-known, and the consumer demand for ship-from-store and buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS) offerings during peak seasonal periods can’t be overstated. Generally, more people are now shopping online in the post-COVID period, but we have already seen in-store traffic increase to almost pre-pandemic levels. More than ever, consumers want to buy products on whatever platform they prefer, and it is vital they receive a frictionless, positive experience wherever they shop in order to cultivate customer loyalty.

Providing an effective omnichannel retail experience is only possible through true supply chain visibility at each level of the enterprise. Ineffective inventory tracking ultimately leads to ineffective omnichannel execution, with canceled orders or available product that is left unexposed to potential customers online.

The data provided by inventory management systems such as Clarity® will feed into forecasting on an ongoing basis, helping retailers to predict demand even more accurately, reduce costs, and maintain an optimal inventory level down to the item level.

Optimize staffing

Alongside an inventory management system, implementing item-level RFID gives retailers the insight they need to predict and prepare for seasonal peaks. This data can help retailers optimize their workforce, ensuring stores (whether in-person or online) are well-staffed, consumers receive high levels of customer service, and there are no obstacles to payments at the checkout.

Not only this, item-level RFID can significantly reduce the time spent by staff manually doing stock counts which are labor-intensive and often inaccurate. The time spent looking for items is also reduced as both omnichannel and in-store attempts to find items are aided by RFID-enabled search capabilities. As a result, retailers can leverage store staff to focus on customer-facing activities, drive sales and differentiate themselves from competitors who are stuck in outdated operational practices.

The next seasonal peak

Seasonal execution is critical for retailers in a competitive environment where demands surge over small periods of time. RFID-enabled retailers are able to ensure they have the correct inventory they need in their enterprise, to capture those sales opportunities with sustained inventory visibility up to 93-99%. The ability of RFID to execute omnichannel and operational processes makes sure that sales opportunities are not left on the table during peak selling periods and increases the likelihood that customers will return throughout the year. Capitalizing on the next big seasonal period begins now with attaining an accurate view of inventory via RFID.

For more information on how an inventory management system and item-level RFID can prepare you for retail’s seasonal peaks, contact SML at info@sml-rfid.com.