The retail industry is a highly competitive, challenging and constantly evolving environment. Customer shopping behaviors are increasingly hard to predict, and retailers must constantly innovate or risk becoming redundant. The COVID-19 pandemic, which has heavily impacted the retail industry, is a prime example of this.
Driven by technological advances, social and economic shifts, and a desire for expanding sales opportunities, rolling out omnichannel offerings has been key in enabling retailers to better serve their customers. Since the onset of COVID-19 and the ensuing lockdowns, effective omnichannel solutions are not just about having a competitive edge, they’re necessary to survive.
BOPIS and BORIS in the Retail Revolution
Buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) and buy online, return in-store (BORIS) solutions have exploded in popularity as retailers try to drive traffic to their stores at a time when people are being encouraged to remain home when possible. Both BOPIS and BORIS are revolutionizing retail during its most challenging period, consolidating a hybrid shopping experience where customers can buy items online before picking them up in a physical store.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a phenomenon never seen before in the supply chain — a total emptying of the product pipeline during lockdowns and retail store closures, and then the corresponding restart of that substantial supply chain months later. BOPIS and BORIS solutions are increasingly seen as critical strategies required to help repopulate these rapidly emptied pipelines and supply chains to fulfill customer demand and encourage customer traffic.
Both solutions allow retailers the opportunity to have heightened control over the overall customer experience. However, retailers will struggle to allow BOPIS and BORIS solutions to live up to their full potential without a detailed understanding of their on-hand inventory and product pipelines.
By taking advantage of item-level RFID technology and its ability to provide a significant increase in inventory accuracy (over 98 percent), it can become a highly relied upon technology that helps kick-start the retail sector by enabling BOPIS and BORIS. The implementation of this retail technology in physical stores is intrinsic to a fully functional retailer, providing both an improved customer experience and promoting associated employee effectiveness.
RFID Solutions in its Prime
In its simplest form, RFID technology offers retailers the ability to gain full visibility of stock across their entire organization, no matter where in the supply chain. RFID solutions allow retailers to experience an increased level of accuracy, showing exactly how much stock they have, what they’re missing, where that stock is currently located, what needs to be replenished, and what may be excess inventory. What’s most impressive, though, is what the technology can do for BOPIS models.
By leveraging item-level RFID — and combining the technology with BOPIS and BORIS models — retailers can offer an increased level of convenience and safety to shoppers as they return to physical stores. By giving customers the option to purchase items from home before traveling to pick up items, customers can minimize contact with others, remain socially distanced, and streamline the entire purchasing process. Customers are helped to feel safe in a more convenient transaction. In addition, RFID-enabled software can help staff more quickly and accurately locate items for BOPIS orders, exposing customers to the true convenience of these omnichannel processes — and make them more likely to become repeat purchasers.
The Cornerstone of Retail in 2021
As the world continues to work towards the “new normal,” it’s more important than ever for retailers to consider what the post-crisis landscape will become and prepare for ongoing changing customer habits.
With the majority of past innovations within retail having been fueled by changing customer demands, the growing call for BOPIS and BORIS solutions has come due to changing attitudes towards brick-and-mortar shopping and evolving sustainability values.
Implementing technology such as RFID enables effective BOPIS and BORIS models as retailers are confident of their stated on-hand inventory and can efficiently fulfill orders across multiple platforms. In turn, this not only provides an opportunity for increased sales in the immediate future, but it also offers the potential for increased market share and more sustainable processes in the long term.
Dean Frew is the chief technology officer and senior vice president of RFID Solutions at SML Group, the leading RFID solutions provider.
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