Retail Asset Tracking: Achieving Greater Stock Control & Customer Service

Asset Tracking Software / February 2020

Using effective asset management and tracking tools is key for any business that relies heavily on its assets for generating revenue, such as retail stores. Whether a physical brick and mortar chain or an online e-commerce store, it’s important for a retailer to have greater visibility of their assets. By deploying retail asset tracking solutions alongside asset tagging technology, such as barcode and RFID, retailers can start to see an improvement in their operations. Not just for inventory management and security purposes, but for improving the overall customer service experience too.

What Is Retail Asset Tracking?

As 53% of sales are expected to come from online spending in 2029, the retail industry is under pressure to improve the consumer journey from interaction to point-of-sale; wholly achievable through an effective retail asset tracking solution.

With innovative IoT solutions and retail Asset Tracking Software, retailers can track and record an asset’s entire life cycle. With the objective being to enhance the overall customer experience. As well as boosting stock control and minimising lost and stolen assets through asset tagging, in a bid to reduce ‘shrinkage’. That’s not to mention the increased accuracy of inventory management, reduced labour requirements, and improved product availability. All in all highlighting retail asset tracking tools as a smart way of keeping costs down and profits up.

Loosely described as the process of selling consumer goods to customers and effectively making a profit, the retail market makes up 1/3 of consumer spending in the UK. Although on a decline in comparison to online shopping, the industry as a whole generated £381bn in sales in 2018 and £394bn in 2019.

To put the size of the retail market into perspective, away from consumer spending, UK retail companies employed over three million workers across a total of 306,655 outlets in 2019.

Identifying the Sub-Sectors in the Retail Market

Retailers are made up of a variety of sub-sectors such as supermarkets, department stores, warehouses, and electronic retailers. With the top 4 UK retailers, in order of turnover, coming under the umbrella of supermarket chains.

Inside these organisation are assets; essential items that prove vital for the day-to-day operations of a business. And, in terms of the retail industry, these assets aren’t just made up of inventory and stock. They can be facilities, buildings, IT equipment, hardware, important documents, furnishings, mannequins, and cash registers.

Sustaining key assets at optimal performance levels is an essential process for retailers, which is where an effective asset tracking solution can assist.

By tracking and recording assets moving in-and-out of a facility on a daily basis, retailers can start to build a comprehensive database and fixed asset register. This allows store managers to collect accurate inventory data, employees to access data via smartphones, and stakeholders to analyse customer trends and better manage the supply chain.

Looking for Retail Asset Tracking Tools?

Find the best asset tagging solutions. For FREE.

Find Asset Tracking Software »

The Importance of Tracking Assets for Retailers

The overall purpose of an asset tracking solution is to answer the question; “how much of an item do I have?”. It will also provide the right tools to help track assets and collect valuable life cycle management data. An asset management system can then calculate risks, costs, budgets, and forecasts, based on each asset’s life cycle. All in a bid to improve visibility, control, and accountability.

For instance, a retailer may tag all of its inventory with an RFID tag. This means, when each piece of inventory enters the premises, it is assigned a unique tracking tag. A manager will then compile all data associated with that asset and store it in a tracking system. This data can include quantity, location, and condition.

The process of tagging and recording data is then repeated to include all assets. Eventually compiling an asset register complete with accurate and real-time data.

But retail asset tracking doesn’t just apply to inventory, it is also used to track and record other critical assets. For instance, a Point-of-Sale (POS) will most likely be completed at the store’s cash register. Therefore, this cash register is a valuable asset and needs to be tracked in order to keep it operating at peak performance.

Maintaining an assets maximum output can be achieved by collecting essential data to help produce a maintenance and repair schedule. This allows staff to know when it is unavailable, and to make sure it is equipped with the latest updates. Therefore avoiding unplanned downtime that can be costly to operations.

The same goes for hardware, such as smartphones and tablets, which staff members can use to access data or even complete a transaction.

Utilising RFID and Barcode Retail Asset Tagging

One key feature of a retail asset tracking solution is the ability to track assets in real-time. This can be achieved with asset tagging tools such as RFID tags, QR codes, Barcodes, NFC, and GPS. With each technology having the ability to supply real-time data.

Knowing an asset’s location, both current and historical, can be key to increasing efficiency and reducing costs. For instance, real-time location data can help to reduce the number of lost and stolen assets through the use of an RFID alert system. This system alerts staff when an item has been removed without having a record of being scanned.

A loss in assets and inventory can also be referred to as “shrink” and, through poor inventory management, employee theft alone accounts for around 43% of all retail’s “shrinkage”.

The use of an RFID asset tracking system can also increase the accuracy of stock levels. For example, clothes retailer River Island found that with RFID tracking they could go from doing 1-2 manual stock takes a year, to doing them weekly. This increased their level of stock accuracy from approximately 70% to 98%.

In fact, inaccuracy of inventory data can be so damaging that 8.7% of retail sales are lost due to a lack of inventory accuracy.

Retail Asset Tracking before and after RFID adoption

Barcodes are seen as another important tool for effectively tracking retail assets and eliminating the process of manual input. Like an RFID tag, Barcodes and QR codes can be scanned in order to access the data of an asset. A benefit of using Barcodes to store data is the high probability of accurate data by reducing manual data entry.

The typical error rate for manual data entry is 1 per 300 characters. Whereas, the error rate of a barcode scanner can be as accurate as 1 error in 36 trillion characters.

Using Retail Asset Tracking to Improve the Customer Service Experience

An important part of implementing retail asset tracking is to identify the customer journey and improve the consumer’s overall experience. With an estimated $62bn worth of sales lost because of poor customer experience in the U.S each year, enhancing customer experiences can be essential.

This can also be true with the rise of new shopping trends, such as online and social media. With 52% of millennials opting to spend money on experience-related purchases, it is important for businesses to analyse consumer trends and tailor each experience.

A key place to start improving customer experiences can be through tracking retail assets and collecting accurate data. With features like RFID asset tracking, retailers are able to identify and eliminate ghost assets and make sure valuable assets are available to customers at the right time. Keep in mind that another great tool for improving the overall customer experience is Help Desk Software.

For instance, in a supermarket, RFID tags can be used to track when a trolley leaves and enters the store. This lets managers identify where each one has been left and how many are currently available for customers to use. It can even highlight when too few trolleys are available and alert employees to go and collect them.

The use of handheld devices, smartphones, and tables, with cloud-based asset tracking systems, can also contribute to a better customer experience. This setup allows retail staff to have access to key asset data within seconds. So, when a customer asks “do you have this in a medium?” or “when will this be back in stock?”, they can instantly provide customers with the correct information.

How to Find the Best Retail Asset Tracking Software

With complete access to the right tools and features, retail Asset Tracking Software is key to efficiently manage retails assets. Gone are the days of counting stock and recording data with pen and paper.

The benefits are clear; an accurate record of asset life cycles, better maintenance plans to reduce downtime, instant access to accurate asset registers, and better analyses of customer spending.

By using our Comparesoft questionnaire, you can find the right retail Asset Tracking Software that matches your business needs. All we need is a bit of information regarding your retail assets and how you plan to track them. We can then compile a list of suitors that you can shortlist and compare against each other.