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Retail’s Big Show: Reporting from the retail technology front line

Originally published on Computer Weekly

Radio-frequency identification

ESLs are not the only technology to have been around for many years present at NRF. Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is a long-established technology that has interestingly been enjoying an accelerated level of adoption and roll-out by retailers recently. According to Dean Frew, group chief technology officer at SML, the rise in use of buy online, pick-up in-store (BOPIS) by consumers post-pandemic is driving demand for RFID as retailers recognise they need to dramatically improve the accuracy of their tracking of inventory.

Typically, retailers have between 55-75% inventory accuracy, which has led to issues. “Retailers can’t live with the cancel rates of BOPIS orders because of stock not being available,” he says. “They either beef up their inventory [with more stock held as a buffer], or they cancel the orders. For some retailers, it can be 50% cancel rates. More retailers realise the ramifications of compensating for poor accuracy.” For a growing number of retailers, the alternative option is to invest in RFID