RFID is consistently touted as the next big thing for supply chain efficiency and inventory management. But, few businesses are fully aware of what RFID can do and how it can positively affect their business.
Industry prognosticators are looking at 2015 as a major milestone year for RFID. Big brands such as Amazon and Target have made major commitments to RFID integration in the past few months. Those are major RFID adopters. According to Auburn University, two-thirds of the top 30 U.S. apparel retailers are implementing item-level RFID. It is fair to say, momentum is shifting towards the RFID tag.
So, what’s stopping you from adopting RFID into your supply chain?
This one is for all you fence sitters out there. Over the years, we’ve talked to hundreds of companies every day about the benefits of RFID technology. It’s not a hard sell. RFID has clear benefits that would positively affect every industry. And, most business owners and supply chain managers are well aware of what RFID can do.
But even when all the great information is shared about RFID, and all the points are made, the potential RFID adopter is still a “maybe”. It is fairly understandable – to an extant. For many businesses, it’s hard to imagine how to improve a system that has been in use for so long. It’s unfathomable to think that your warehouse guys could get their work done ever faster. If you feel this way about your business, there are some scenarios that you may not be keyed in to. What happens when your online sales really start picking up? What if you’re spending way too much money on inventory? What if you didn’t have to spend so much money on inventory labor or replacement parts? Even the best businesses in the world can suffer from a leaky supply chain.
Many business suffer lost profits and decreasing margins from problems they see as just cost of business. But a lot of those problems can be remedied by RFID technology. Here are 5 telltale signs that many businesses have that can be fixed with RFID technology.
1. Order Fulfillment Errors Are Increasing
Contributing to this may be an increase in sales. That sounds like a good problem to have. But, if you can’t fulfill the new orders effectively, then that spurt in growth just isn’t going to sustain itself. It’s one thing to get the customers in the door. But, to get them coming back is a key to a more consistent rise in sales. And, to get customers coming back, you have to keep them satisfied.
To keep customers happy, goods need to be available for purchase on the channel of their choice. Their orders also need to be fulfilled quickly. If a customer prefers to shop online, they’re a lost sale if the product they want isn’t in stock online. It’s much easier for an online shopper to go to another website, which they will if the item they’re looking for isn’t available. And, what will really drive you nuts is that a lot of times, the item is in stock. But, your website maintains an inventory threshold. You could just lower the thresholds, but that could create another problem. If someone purchases an item that you will need from the warehouse, and the warehouse is all out, that customer will be waiting a while. And, a long wait is a guarantee the customer won’t buy from you again.
By not connecting your inventory data to your website, those lost sales will really add up. Implementing a new inventory management system with RFID technology can remedy these problems. By tagging your items with RFID tags and adding a centralized RFID tracking software system to your company’s inventory system, you can get a much more accurate look at your inventory. And, with higher inventory visibility, you will know exactly when to reorder goods and locate weak spots in your supply chain.
2. You Buy Way More Inventory Than You Need
Is demand high for your products? That’s good, too! But, that will come with challenges. You need to make sure your shelves are stocked with the right items. Out of stock items is the last thing you want. It takes money right out of your pocket, and puts it into your competitor’s.
To compensate, you could just make sure you have so much inventory that you could never run out. But, then your capital is tied to just your inventory, which is really risky. On average, companies stock 40% more inventory than the need. That’s a ton of money that could go elsewhere – marketing, advertising, new hires, and jacuzzis!
But seriously, this is one of the most overlooked problems in retail. The problem of having too much inventory gets compounded when some items sell out faster than others. And, if a significant amount of your inventory has already been used up for the inventory that you already have. And, if the inventory you bought isn’t selling, that’s a lot of lost sales and wasted money.
If you had a way to analyze your inventory numbers and trends better, you’d be able to make better inventory purchasing decision.
This is something that can be solved by developing a more integrated inventory management system with RFID. Adding RFID to your inventory system allows you to see what items are selling fastest and when. So you’ll know exactly what to order more of what’s selling, and less of what’s not. And, since some RFID tracking software systems can give you up to the minute looks at your inventory, you can keep costs down by ordering items at the right time. No more inventory overload.
3. Your Inventory Data Doesn’t Tell You Anything
How are you currently managing your inventory? Pen and paper? Rock and chisel? Excel spreadsheets you made 10 years ago? If your inventory management processes are on the archaic side, there is a ton of inventory data that you just will never be able to find out.
Non-RFID users only get the basics from running inventory numbers. What do we have, and how much of it is there. Not exactly the most useful data. If this is the only inventory “data” you have, then a lot of the purchasing decision you make regarding inventory will not be well informed. As mentioned previously, RFID tagged inventory can help you make the right inventory purchasing decisions – when to make orders, what to order, etc.
But, there’s more helpful data that you can extract from your inventory by tracking RFID tagged inventory. Unlike barcodes, RFID tags can be scanned, and rescanned with new data. So your tags can be used in manufacturing, or in supply chains that go through a number of checkpoints. With the RFID tags synced up to your inventory system, you can know if there is a hold up somewhere in the manufacturing process. Tags can also transpond information such as when they were scanned. That’s helpful if you send inventory out to bigger retailers, and need accurate shipping records.
The amount of data brought in by RFID tags is immense, and incredibly helpful. Bottom line – RFID can give you accurate data about your inventory that you really can’t get elsewhere.
4. You’re Inventory Turnover Rate is Decreasing
Have you given some of your inventory a birthday cake recently? If you hold onto inventory for over a year, you have a serious inventory problem.
Having inventory lay around for more than six months is an obvious sign that you aren’t making savvy inventory decisions. Either you’re buying too much of the wrong stuff, or you are pricing the items incorrectly. And, if your capital is tied to inventory laying in the back of your store or warehouse, you can’t buy more inventory of the stuff your customers want. As you can see, this is a problem that can compound upon itself.
The simple solutions is to sell the inventory you have at a faster rate. That would actually solve a lot of problems! But, specifically, being able to move your goods and products at a faster rate would prevent your business from becoming consumed by a large, dust collecting inventory.
RFID can help you get the data you need to make a good inventory decision faster. RFID is unique in that tagged items can be located and checked quickly. An employee can walk into your warehouse, and scan the inventory in minutes, instead of taking hours to get accurate inventory numbers. Your employees can do inventory numbers on the fly, and more often. If your items were tagged with RFID tags, your employees would be able to run inventory numbers
5. 40% Of Your Inventory Sprouted Legs and Walked Away
How accurate is your current inventory system anyway? You’re probably hoping it’s close to 100%, right? I got news for you – it’s not 100%. Not even close. This is one of the easiest problems for inventory managers to ignore. Since it isn’t possible for them to get a really accurate reading of their inventory, they’ll just assume they’re doing a good enough job.
On average, a non-RFID integrated inventory system is around 60% accurate (according to GS1).
Just to put that into perspective, 2 out of every 5 items in your warehouses, on your retail floor, or elsewhere, are either unaccounted for, or just not there. If you are a business owner, or inventory manager, this statistic should keep you up at night. Now, some bigger companies may be able to cover for such a large inventory gap. But, if you’re a smaller business, it’s dangerous to be teetering on the brink of inventory calamity.
If your inventory information is wrong, then the purchasing information is skewed, and you forecasting will be inaccurate. You thought you purchased way more of that item that’s now impossible to keep in stock. And your manufacturing is at a standstill because they just ran out the materials they need.
Inaccurate inventory is a major hurdle for companies looking to grow. Fulfilling orders is harder since the right raw materials may not be available. And forecasting potential sales accurately is impossible. If you rely on certain times of the year for bigger sales numbers, sold out inventory can ruin your year. I don’t need to tell you the risks of not selling.
How EdgeMagic Tracks Inventory
Add RFID tags to your goods and merchandise, either by carton, package, or on the item itself.
Tags will hold vital information such as location and delivery. You can track shipments, and where items are in your warehouse from your computer, tablet, or phone.
EdgeMagic maintains all your inventory data, and can transfer that complex in a user friendly user interface.
EdgeMagic records incoming and outgoing shipments. All orders are documented, so you have documentation every time a chargeback comes up.
No more guessing when to order more inventory. EdgeMagic sends you alerts, so you know exactly when your inventory is running low.
EdgeMagic gives you a complete look at your inventory. Raising your inventory visibility lets you make informed purchasing decisions, lower inventory costs, reduce shipping errors, and improve your supply chain efficiency!