Top 3 Reasons to Avoid RFID, and Why You Still Need It.

RFID can be a scary acronym for retailers and supply chain operations. For years, it has carried these top three stigmas:

  • The Range of an RFID signal is too short
  • Liquids and metals interfere with RFID signals
  • RFID technology is costly

Taking a look at each of these objections individually will help readers reach an understanding of why RFID solutions has become a must-have in the retail industry, as well as other industries in which inventory accuracy maximization and inventory loss minimization are essential. Consider the stigma that the range of RFID signals is too short. This may be true in some industries, but it certainly is not true when it comes to inventory management and tracking within retail and supply chain operations. Using RFID to manage and track inventory is crucial when one considers any attempt to make a mark in the omnichannel space. In fact, Bill Connell, senior vice president of logistics and operations for Macy’s, stated during a panel discussion at the RFID in Retail and Apparel 2016, that “omnichannel was critical to success in the current retail market. Connell went on to state, “RFID is essential to omnichannel execution. Therefore, RFID is essential to retailing.” Regardless of RFID range, it is clear the current technology suits retail and supply chain industries well.

RFID labels for food Nedap

The second stigma that may be causing some companies from diving in to RFID technology has to do with liquids and metals. Albeit true that these two things can cause interference, we have found once again that solutions are in place to minimize interference by liquids and metals, rendering this a non-critical concern. Placement of RFID readers, such as Nedap’s !D Top, which is an overhead reader that replaces traditional pedestals, helps to overcome interference, making it the industry’s leading choice for RFID/EAS solutions. And not only is this technology well-suited in general merchandise and apparel retail segments, but it is also viable in the food sector.

And finally, the oldest and most popular falsehood about RFID: cost. For decades, RFID technology has carried this stigma, and until recently, it may have been true. But like all technology, the cost of RFID has drastically declined. Retailers may also be surprised to learn that Nedap’s RFID/EAS solutions are futureproof, meaning they can be used strictly as EAS systems today, and as RFID systems in the future without having to replace any hardware. This helps to further leverage the cost of RFID technology.

Retail store entrance RFID technology Nedap

Now that the top three obstacles to RFID technology have been addressed, it is time to discuss the benefits. The retail and supply chain landscape has changed significantly over the last couple of years, and changes are still coming. The number of people who order items online and pick them up at store locations continues to increase. What happens when customers order online, only to find the item is not at the store location at the time of their scheduled pick-up? The answer to that is easy: brand damage. Building trust within the customer base takes time, but it takes even longer to earn trust back once it has been lost. This is at the heart of experts’ claims that RFID technology is paramount for successfully competing in the omnichannel space. Knowing merchandise levels in real time is essential in order to deliver customer satisfaction throughout the shopping experience. And when one considers that a store employee, when using RFID, can take a full and accurate store inventory within minutes, it becomes clear why RFID technology is a must-have.

About Nedap Retail

Nedap brings 40 years of global experience, market expertise and close cooperation with leading retailers. Everything we do is driven by our mission to make it simple for retailers to always have the right products available. To achieve this, we offer industry-leading solutions for our customers’ diverse needs in loss prevention and stock management. For more information, visit www.nedap-retail.com.

Citations:

http://www.rfidjournalevents.com/retail/quote_connell

5 Common Pitfalls That Could Thaw Your Loss Prevention Efforts

Any loss prevention or store operations manager knows that loss prevention is the result, not the effort.

Ultimately, the only thing that counts at the end of the day is how much shrinkage you can prevent by employing the latest technology, devising the best training and hiring the most diligent employees.

However, even in the best scenarios there are factors that hinder your loss prevention efforts and encourage shrinkage. Below are the most common ones:

Lack Of A Comprehensive Loss Prevention Strategy

The first and probably the most important reason loss prevention efforts fail is a lack of a comprehensive loss prevention strategy that ties into the overarching business goals of the organization.

A study by Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton for the Harvard Business School entitled “The Strategy-Focused Organization” found that “a mere 7% of employees today fully understand their company’s business strategies and what’s expected of them in order to help achieve company goals.”

The overall goal of most retailers is to profitably sell products that were manufactured by a third party to maximize shareholder value — whereas the task of loss prevention managers is to help the organization sell more by losing less.

If a loss prevention strategy only focuses on preventing shoplifting, you are ignoring the other pieces of the puzzle such as securing the employee and back entrances, scanning incoming inventory to prevent vendor fraud, tracking each item individually to minimize administrative errors and making the store more secure for employees as well as visitors.

Shrinkage prevention is an organization-wide problem and has to be tackled on a corporate level. Every single employee must be informed, aware and educated on the causes and consequences of shrinkage — this will not only lower employee theft but also make the entire team more alert.

Loss Prevention In A Vaccum

Hand in hand with incorporating loss prevention into the overarching business strategy is the integration of loss prevention systems into existing business applications.

Traditional RF- or AM-based electronic article surveillance (EAS) systems are not integrated with other systems because they are electronic-based and not software-driven. This lack of integration not only isolates the company’s loss prevention efforts from other processes within the organization, but it inhibits the retailer to build a network of reinforcing systems that work together.

With mega-trends such as omni-channel, globalization, big data and the Internet of Things shaping the retail landscape, IT and other business departments need to work closer and align better with loss prevention.

However, the recently released study The Great Disconnect Between LP and IT finds that there are huge discrepancies between IT and loss prevention – however executives’ priorities do not align with these realities. For example, on average, the revenue lost per case of employee theft is up to six times larger than what shoplifters help themselves to (according to the 2015 Retail Theft Survey), but tackling internal theft is deprioritised compared to other priorities.

Loss_Prevention_is_the_1

At the moment, only 8.3% of the IT budget (not including Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standards and data breach protection efforts) is dedicated to loss prevention efforts. One reason for this low number is simply that other business priorities are taking precedence. The other reason that loss prevention receives so little attention from IT is because electronic systems are not IT-enabled and cannot be integrated into other business applications. In fact, IT personnel, as well as LP professionals name system integration as one of the biggest hurdles in building a closer relationship.

With an increasing number of solutions including open API’s, internet connectivity and the ability to integrate with business applications, this will change over the next couple of years.

Demotivated Employees

The third reason why loss prevention fails is demotivated employees. Retail thrives and fails with the quality and retention of its employees that it hires.

Theft from employees and their lack of motivation to follow up on alarm situations is very high. This is especially true in the United States, where the average retail employee earns on average $7.65 – $14.10 according to PayScale — compared to for example $17.42 in Germany. In addition, American stores have a high employee turnover rate of 67 percent. Both of these factors result in decreased motivation and loyalty towards the employer which is reflected in high shrinkage.

If a customer walks into your shop and they get approached almost immediately and helped, there is less opportunity to browse the merchandise, inspect security tags and slip items into aluminum foil-lined bags. In contrast, if your personnel is busy exchanging the latest gossip, filing nails or playing games on their phone, there is more opportunity for theft.

Lastly, if your front line workers don’t pursue a visitor that set off an alarm because they could not bother or are too embarrassed, your loss prevention efforts are futile.

JB_20101104_Beaute_0120

No Clear Reasons For Alarms

The number of alarms your system sounds during the day can be a good indicator if something is amiss. For example, if you usually have 20-30 alarms during the day and this increases suddenly to 80-100 alarms daily, you know something is not right. But sometimes it is hard to determine the reason for the alarms.

If your system can decipher the alarm direction, you already have an indication for the cause of the problem.

Maybe a piece of merchandise fell behind a display case and into the field of the security pedestal, it would cause a non-directional alarm. However, you could see an increased number of incoming alarms if your neighboring store does not deactivate their tags properly, and customers continue their shopping in your store.

Not knowing the causes of the alarms prevents you from fixing the underlying problem and will result in too many alarms — which in turn will scare away shoppers.

No Status Updates On The Health Of Your Systems

For most retail employees, the day starts by testing the loss prevention systems. They have to go with a tagged merchandise item past a pedestal to manually test if it sounds an alarm.

However, if the system does not perform at peak performance, stops working during the day or the staff does not perform a daily check, the store will be unprotected for longer periods of times.

Often, the reason for the malfunction is simple and could be fixed if the system would be able to sound an alert — for example moving a display that has been blocking the EAS system.

Also, by having an Internet connection, you can allow remote device monitoring and maintenance as well as constant firmware updates to keep your solution improving over time.

Which factors do you see as the most hindering?

Which common pitfalls do you encounter every day that hinder you to do your job effectively? We would love to hear them – please use the comments below to continue the discussion.

4 Reasons Why Customer Counting Should Be Part Of Your Loss Prevention Solution

Customer counting or visitor management are usually not the first words that come to mind when thinking about loss prevention.

However, customer counting is a powerful tool for keeping costs down and clients coming back while reducing losses at the same time.

Insights into your peak times and customer numbers allow you to understand better and cater to their needs, adjust your staff on the floor and even measure the effectiveness of specific marketing campaigns.

Here are some of the ways you can use visitor management to delight your guests:

Identify Your Store’s Peak Hours

At the end of the day, knowing how much revenue you made today is not enough. You need to understand how many people came into your shop, at what times they visited, and how long they stayed.

Visitor counting enables you to see patterns in your shopper’s behavior. For example, identifying peak times is incredibly important. Let’s say your employees take their lunch hour at 12:30 pm. But your store gets the most foot traffic every weekday between 11:30 am and 1 pm. You need to make sure you have enough salespeople on the floor to assist customers and checkout personnel to avoid long wait times. That means you need to space out your employee’s lunch break to accommodate your customer’s needs.

Manage Your Staff Efficiently

According to an Ernst & Young study, most essential to the “survival [of any business] in the current tough retail environment is labor flexibility — that is, not the total number of hours per week, but the distribution of those hours throughout the week.”

But how do you know how to achieve this flexibility and strike the right balance? Too many employees on the floor that leaves staff bored and possibly frustrated because they do not have high enough commissions. Too few employees on the schedule and they become overworked while your customers lack attention.

Visitor counting can allow you to see the regular patterns and plan just the right amount of employees for every shift. Customers can easily find a salesperson and get the attention they deserve. And, the staff is in a better frame of mind and able to give better, more attentive service.

Increase The Dwell Time In Your Store

How long do customers typically spend in your store? Visitor counting can give you some insights about when they come in and when they leave. We all know that the longer customers spend in a store, the more money they are likely to spend. Industry analysts at PathIntelligence determined that if you can increase a customer’s dwell time by 1 percent, you will see a 1.3 percent increase in your sales.

Calculating your current average dwell time can allow you to make physical changes to your shop, and see if you can coax customers into hanging around a little longer. These changes can create a more enjoyable, relaxing experience for your clients; make a visit to your store an anticipated leisure activity.

Measure The Effectiveness Of Your Marketing Campaigns

In the past, marketing was more art than science, but with increased data tracking abilities, we can get a much more accurate idea of how our marketing efforts are paying off.

Measuring the number of visitors in your store, and comparing them against the timing of local ad campaigns can help you identify and duplicate your marketing wins. For instance, if you use proximity advertising on mobile platforms, you’ll be able to see right away whether your ad was effective.

Conclusion

Make sure that every system in your business is working for you, in every way possible. By discovering the customer experience benefits of visitor counting, you can not only keep your business safer but also help it grow.

Want to learn more about which must-have features your loss prevention solution should have? Download our eBook here.

10 Creative Ways To Leverage Your Retail Analytics Insights

Retail management is becoming increasingly complex and time consuming. Retailers have to prioritize the needs of a large number of stores.

With Nedap’s Retail Analytics, retailers can permanently reduce losses, optimize stock levels and increase the performance of individual stores by giving detailed insight into the behavior of their staff members, customers and loss prevention systems.

Here are ten ways you can use Nedap Retail Analytics to keep an eye on the details and address any security or performance threats as soon as they occur.

  • Make sure your loss prevention system is working properly. The Retail Analytics dashboard can show you the health of your overall system, including smart deactivators, gates, and customer counters. For example, if your employees muted the systems because of too many alarms, you need to be aware of that fact and be able to act upon it right away.
  • Get an overview on your real-time alarms. Retail Analytics lets store managers gain more insights on the number (and causes) of RF and RFID alarms, attention button alarms that have been manually triggered by an employee, or cases of metal detection events in your store. This way, you as a loss prevention / store manager can assess which problems to tackle first.
  • Control of your system when needed. Retail Analytics allows you to control your EAS system by testing or snoozing the alarm based on special circumstances in your store at a certain moment or a particular time period, as well as placing your system in temporary maintenance mode while you address the issue at hand.
  • Get an accurate assessment of your theft risk. With an intelligent loss prevention system, you can distinguish between incoming, outgoing and non-directional alarms. This allows you to register the events without artificially raising your theft risk.
  • Identify Peak Hours and Dwell Time. You can use your dashboard and the data from your visitor counters to identify peak and dwell times within the past week. Analysing your visitors dwell time analytics enables you to reduce wait times as you can predict how long people will need when they are shopping. It also lets you draw conclusions about their shopping intentions: a leisurely stroll through the aisles on Saturday afternoon suggests more browsing through different aisles and the potential for large sales, for larger sales, while people who have to run a quick errand before work on a Thursday morning, efficiency is key.
  • Effectively plan your staff. Based on the peak hour and dwell time insights, you can now plan your staff accordingly. For example, if your peak hour is at noon and the average dwell time is 45 minutes, having lunch hour at 11:30 AM instead of 1 PM will result in  a more pleasant shopping experience for your customers. This also allows you to save of staff overhead for off-peak hours resulting in happier (less bored) employees and overall customer satisfaction.
  • Measure the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. Another way to use your visitor intelligence is to measure the effectiveness of certain marketing campaigns. For example, if you have a special or discount running for a limited time during the day, you can measure if the number of customers spiked during these hours and compare it to the same day and time on previous weeks. This creates an easy & fast benchmark to compare performance of last week, last month and last year.
  • Dive deeper into real-time alarms. Being able to give a reason why the alarm has been activated (e.g., bad deactivated label motivates employees to act on the alarm and makes your overall loss prevention efforts more effective.
  • Identify theft risk exists per gate. Based on the data your intelligent article surveillance system collects, you can identify gates with a higher theft occurrences. Armed with that knowledge, you can place additional security personnel at that specific gate.
  • Increase the effectiveness of your EAS solutions. Constantly blaring alarms can scare away customers. But instead of turning off the power of your security gates to get a break, you can use your retail analytics to figure out how to alleviate the situation all together and so over time reduce the number of fake alarms and therefore improve the performance of your system.

Conclusion

Retail Analytics is a vital part of managing your global retail stores. Not only does it allow you to prioritize which store to focus on first, but it also gives critical information to measure the effectiveness of your loss prevention and marketing campaigns.