Nordic ID shares some visions of the upcoming innovations among RFID industry. Now it is time to listen to Jessica Säilä, Business Area Director of Retail at Nordic ID, and hear how she sees the role of RFID in future retail operations.
Hannu Heino, Technical Director of Nordic ID, already shed some
light on his opinions about the future RFID solutions in the
"The technical possibilities of area reading". This article
will continue from that and move the focus into the retail
"This automated, hands-free RFID inventory is somewhat of a
hype, particularly in the retail sector. On the shop floor, the
mobile computers have been used for RFID inventory roughly a
decade. Combining any kinds of RFID readers as one system and
centralizing the gathered data is the talk of the day. Such system
does not take a lot effort from the user to collect the data, and
such system could be applied e.g. for shop-in-shop solutions. The
faster items can be sold, the more profit they tend to create.
Hence being able to harness RFID for tracking items taken into the
fitting rooms as well as shelf warmers offers a chance to sell more
efficiently and with a higher price," Säilä explains.
Collecting data - why and for what?
Current technology trends in retail are Omni-channel, InMemory
Technology/Realtime Analytics and Internet of Things, as stated by
EHI Retail Institute. Furthermore, retailers are in demand of
more information than ever before wanting to utilize Big Data. RFID
generates information about individual products in different stages
of the value chain. Adding RFID reading points brings an answer to
this demand. This way the retailer knows more about their items and
their locations at all times. When the item is scanned it leaves a
digital mark of itself thus feeding data to a backend system. Every
read has an impact on inventory visibility as well as it also
enables the retailer to draw conclusions about certain trends among
How would a retailer benefit from
hands-free inventory according to Jessica Säilä?
1) "Increase of inventory
2) Assortment, sales trend, and
conversion rate analytics especially when combined with
other Big Data sources.
3) Operational efficiency through
more accurate information on own operations.
4) More personalized customer
communication through customer fronting technologies."
Let the items speak
"What if your items could tell you where they are when asked?
Automated inventory in a retail store would do just that. It means
you will monitor a certain area with the help of a fixed reader.
When the automatic inventory is on, the items can tell you where
they are and more importantly when and where they have moved. When
monitoring a selected area, non-moving items are easily identified.
The same would also apply to monitoring in the fitting room areas,"
Interactive shops and personalized
Utilizing customer fronting technologies is a new way of
approaching customers inside a retail store. For example,
interactive screens for in-store promotions are already commonly
used. RFID, which is embedded to the store level would help to
personalize in-store marketing by allowing the system to know for
instance which items a consumer is carrying at the moment. Many
retailers wish to create the same customer experience in a
brick-and-mortar shop as they get online. The role of RFID in such
case is to help in pushing product information to info-kiosks,
displays and cellphones with consumer accepted applications; in its
part adding to the personalized shopping experience. Amazingly as
much as 80 percent of the customers visiting a brick-and-mortar
store leaves without buying anything (
The Retail Bulletin). Imagine that a brick-and-mortar store
could use similar things as the browsing data and the data of
unfinished shopping carts. This could help in gathering relevant
information to attract the visitors to buy.
A world with embedded RFID readers, iBeacons
and other cool technologies
retailers to recognize where an individual shopper is. RFID reports
which items are moving nearby allowing the retailer to push
selected product information to a display next to the shopper. Such
information is built on top of the same analytics that is already
used in the web shops - suggesting completing and matching items
and stating that "customers who browsed this were also interested
in this one".
Today brick-and-mortar stores cannot use many analytics familiar
from online stores. However, many of them might help to grow sales.
An example would be unfinished shopping carts: why do consumers
leave without purchase? Monitoring items and their movement, and
monitoring the movement of mobile phones (with iBeacons) will build
up data, which will be a basis for similar analysis in physical
store environment. This data can further be utilized for
personalized marketing as well as pushing the shopper to finish the
purchase with additional perks, such as discounts if you buy today.
Again, a method known from online sales.
Säilä concludes: "An automated, hands-free RFID inventory can
bring brick-and-mortar shopping experience closer to that of an
online store, and both sales channels into the peak of today's
trends. It will improve product availability, thus growing sales,
and it will add to Big Data helping in its turn retailers to be
more competitive in their environment. In the future, different
RFID reading points will increase, and they will even be embedded
as parts of shelves, ceilings and mirrors for instance. Once the
readers are embedded as a part of retail stores, all customer
communication is more exact and more personalized. The customer is
able to choose by herself which products she wants to learn more
Jessica Säilä, Business Area
Director (Retail) at Nordic ID