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RFID and the Customer Journey

Over the last six months, retail has undergone some drastic changes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In line with this, customers’ expectations and needs have shifted as well. In June, US online sales reached $73.2 billion – an increase of 76.2% compared to the same month last year. It’s clear that COVID-19 has pushed many consumers towards shopping on the web. And understandably so, not only is it a quick and easy way of acquiring goods but with various stages of lockdown and the general concern for health and wellbeing, online shopping appears to be the safest option. While we are now beginning to step away from enforced lockdown procedures, COVID-19 is still very much present, and retailers need to find a way to recreate the convenience and safety of online shopping in-store. But, without the right tools, staff are unable to meet the needs of the modern-day customer, which can put retailers at risk of losing future business.

A common in-store occurrence that can detract customers from making a purchase, is the time taken to locate an item within the store. For example, if a customer needs a garment in a particular size that cannot be found within the shop floor, it can take a considerable amount of time for staff to locate the item in the stock room. While this is happening, the customer can be left waiting on the shop floor, which can be frustrating and time-consuming, especially if they are then to be told the item isn’t in stock due to low levels of inventory inaccuracy.

With occupancy monitoring and social distancing measures in place, this long wait time not only detracts from the customer experience but also limits sales opportunities throughout the rest of the store. With only a limited number of shoppers allowed in, delays in service can drastically slow down the speed at which customers are allowed in-store – causing longer queues and limiting purchases.

The problem stems from the poor SKU inventory accuracy, which is down to specific styles, sizes, and colors in apparel, footwear, home goods, cosmetics, and sporting goods stores. Inventory accuracy for retailers in these sectors typically averages around 65%. To ensure issues like these are avoided, retailers must implement Item-Level RFID technology into their stores in order to minimize stock inaccuracy and maximize customer and employee interaction. With item-level RFID an inventory accuracy of 98% is achievable, and the customer journey will be streamlined throughout their in-store experience.

Staff Availability

The biggest advantage of using RFID solutions in-store is the time staff can dedicate to being on the shop floor assisting customers and encouraging purchasing. Before, the majority of staff’s time would be taken up through manually counting and finding stock. However, with SML RFID solutions in place, staff have more visibility of stock availability. Along with handheld devices using SML Clarity® software, staff will also be able to check stock, without having to leave the customer.

For the customer, this means instant assistance can be provided as soon as they step through the shop door. And this assistance can further be executed with increased efficiency and greater customer satisfaction.

Optimizing the checkout

With a shortage of available staff, checkouts can often be restricted, with many of the cashiers closed. This can lead to extensive queuing, which can be both stressful for customers and staff alike. With social distancing measures in place, extensive queuing becomes much more problematic. As shoppers maintain their distance from others, queues become even longer – and could even go as far as putting others off from stepping into the store.

However, with Item-Level RFID technology in place, this issue will be a thing of the past as staff will have more time to serve on tills, speeding up the process for customers. Additionally, RFID technology has the capability to scan all of the purchases that a customer has in one read and quickly process payments without the tedious and time-consuming task of scanning every individual barcode.

With SML RFID solutions in place, retailers will have the ability to maintain customer satisfaction through meeting the demands of the modern-day customer, while also keeping them safe. With this in place, the customer’s in-store journey will be guaranteed to be a pleasurable experience, attracting future business for years to come.

To find out more about how SML RFID solutions can improve your customer’s experience, please contact us for a live virtual demo at