Guest Column | August 25, 2014

Why Retailing Needs RFID In An Omni-Channel Environment

Kurt Mensch, RFID Principal Product Strategist, Intermec by Honeywell

By Kurt Mensch, RFID Principal Product Strategist, Intermec by Honeywell

The term “brick and mortar” which is often used to describe physical retail stores conjures up images of permanent brick walls built by skilled masons. It’s meant to describe a physical store versus a virtual online storefront, but the phrase also implies a building crafted to represent a store brand and the products it sells.  A physical brick and mortar store is a place where customers can see, evaluate, and experience the products and services representing a retailer’s brand.

Consumers have many choices from competing retailers and products, and the Internet certainly provides the capability to quickly find a specific product at the best price and to get it shipped quickly. But consumers often want a lot more in a shopping experience; they want to see and evaluate many options and immediately walk away with their purchase. A brick and mortar store fails, however, when a customer walks away without the item they are looking for. The reality is the item is often improperly shelved somewhere in the store, in the stock room, or in a return bin, but neither the customer nor the store employees know it because they do not have the necessary visibility in to the store’s inventory.

One of the objectives of omni-channel retailing is to deliver the same customer experience across every available sales channel, from online, to mobile, to brick and mortar. To properly deliver a consistent experience across all channels, the brick and mortar stores need to be more than permanent structures built to physically house products for customer evaluation and instant delivery. They also need to have the simplicity and reliability of the online shopping experience. In the omni-channel world, the brick and mortar stores become an extension of the supply chain and the gap between physical and virtual worlds needs to be bridged. To do this, real-time inventory visibility is required to maintain channel transparency and provide the high level of informative consumers are expecting across all of the available channels.

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