As a business owner of a brick and mortar chain or an e-commerce store, it’s important to gain a better understanding of your retail assets in order to improve your business’s bottom line. In this guide, we’ve highlighted 5 key points to help you find the right retail asset tracking solution with the aim of improving your customer experience.
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 RDIF tagging, in a bid to reduce ‘shrinkage’.
And that’s not to mention the increased inventory accuracy, reduced labour requirements, and improved product availability. All in all, highlighting retail asset tracking solutions 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 market into perspective, away from consumer spending, UK retail organisations employed over three million workers across a total of 306,655 outlets in 2019.
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 retail 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 retail companies, which is where an effective retail asset tracking solution can help.
By tracking and recording assets moving in-and-out on a daily basis, retail businesses can start to build a comprehensive database. This allows managers to collect accurate inventory data, employees to access data via smartphones and tablets, and higher-ups to analyse customer trends to better manage the supply chain.
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 data. An asset management system would then calculate risks, costs, budgets, and forecasts, based on that life cycle. All in a bid to improve visibility, control and accountability of assets.
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 the tracking system. This data can include quantity, location, and condition. Then, when each inventory tag is scanned, the system will display each asset’s complete data profile.
The process of tagging and recording data is then repeated to include all inventory assets. Eventually compiling an asset register complete with accurate data.
But retail asset tracking doesn’t just apply to inventory, it is also used to track and record other critical retail assets. For example, 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. All in a bid to avoid unplanned downtime.
The same goes for hardware, such as smartphones and tablets, which staff members can use to access data or even complete a transaction.
One key feature of a retail asset tracking solution is the ability to track retail assets in real-time. This can be through RFID tags, QR codes, Barcodes, and a Real-Time Locating System (RTLS), each with the ability to supply real-time data such as location.
Knowing an asset’s location, both current and historical, can be key to operations and reducing costs. For example, 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 managers 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 RFID tools can also increase the accuracy of stock levels. For example, clothes retailer River Island found that with RFID 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.
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.
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, 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 your overall customer experience is Help Desk Software.
For example, 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 could 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 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.
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.