The mobile phone sector has seen exponential growth in recent years as users spend more on phone upgrades; driving competition amongst brands to release the latest handsets. In Q1 of 2017, Gartner stated that global sales of smartphones totalled 380 million units; a 9 percent increase on the first quarter of 2016. In addition, the industry looks to continue growing as new phones launch onto the marketplace offering new functionalities and capabilities that make a user’s life easier.
With the mobile industry remaining one of the most innovative and fastest growing, retailers have been presented with a number of inventory challenges including shrink and out-of-stocks. Merchants are now seeking new ways to manage their mobile phone inventory, enhance customer service and adapt to ever-changing shopping behaviors.
In 2015, one of the largest UK retailers implemented RFID technology across their mobile stores within their superstores. Prior to utilizing this technology, the retailer was using bar codes and manual counters to keep track of stock. However, not only was this an inefficient method, it was also proving ineffective with a lack of real-time visibility into the retailer’s existing inventory. Without total visibility, the retailer was experiencing a number of stock challenges including; a bloated inventory, out-of-stock products and wrong items being taken onto the sales floor.
As a leading UK retailer at the forefront of technological innovation to enhance the customer service, RFID had previously been rolled out across the retailer’s apparel and footwear brand. However, drawing comparisons between the apparel and mobile sector, both of which share similar challenges around inventory management, the retailer decided to deploy RFID across its mobile stores.
For this deployment, SML RFID provides the majority of RFID tags and its Clarity™ software application for inventory management and store operations, delivering state of the art performance and scalability. The complete RFID solution, which includes RFID handheld terminals and fixed RFID readers, has since been deployed across over 400 stores throughout the UK to reduce out-of-stocks, isolate shrink and help store staff effectively locate specific phone models needed to complete a sale.
In conjunction with SML’s enterprise-class Clarity™ software, a third-party logistics company assigns EPC codes and associates each one with a unique 15-digit IMEI number allocated to each mobile phone, printing both codes on the RFID labels which provides inventory accountability in the context of the mobile phone market. The Clarity™ software is then used to provide daily cycle counts, improving inventory management and loss prevention.
Reducing shrink and out-of-stocks
Since implementing SML’s RFID tags and enterprise-class Clarity™ solution, the mobile retailer has seen significant improvements in the accuracy and efficiency of its inventory management. In addition, utilizing item-level RFID means that manual stock checks are no longer required; saving time for store associates to focus on customer service. Within the past 18 months, the UK retailer has been able to successfully maintain stock record accuracy to over 98% which as a result leads to improved availability and a reduced loss of sales.
SML ensured its Clarity™ software was fit for purpose and the rollout process was smooth and easy to understand. As a result, the retailer has witnessed improved efficiency of delivery check-ins in stores. Previously the average delivery required a minimum of 15 minutes to check-in. Due to the implementation of RFID, the typical check-in time has now been reduced to a minimum of 2 minutes. Following an 80% reduction in check-in time, sales colleagues have rated the process an average of 8 out of 10 when asked how likely they would recommend the process.
To date, SML RFID has provided the UK mobile retailer with millions of encoded RFID tags that enable them to track and manage inventory. Due to the success of the deployment and ROI experienced within the first 18 months since deployment, the retailer continues to explore ways in which it can leverage advanced RFID technology to continue revolutionizing the shopping experience for its customers
As the leading full-service RFID solution provider, SML is a trusted partner to the world’s largest retailers and top fashion brands, delivering proven results and rapid ROI for our customers. SML offers a broad spectrum of certified RFID-enabled labels, tags, stickers and inlays from the largest global network of source-tagging service bureaus. SML Intelligent Inventory Solution’s Clarity™ enterprise-class platform has best-in-class features and functionality for RFID deployment in-store and throughout the retail supply chain.
SML has successfully delivered RFID to many of the world’s most successful retailers. With a presence in over 30 countries, unparalleled deployment expertise and highly trained support personnel, SML is the leading technology provider for the new era in retailing, Retail 3.0. Visit the SML website at www.sml-rfid.com.