On Monday, May 8, the Fung Global Retail & Technology team was in London to attend the first day of RBTE 2017, Europe’s largest retail solutions show. The event showcases the latest retail technology solutions in areas such as omnichannel, payments, loyalty, supply chain, loss prevention, e-commerce, RFID and analytics.
On the first day of the event, we focused on RFID. We attended a panel discussion in which executives from three leading UK retailers—M&S, John Lewis and River Island—shared how their companies use the technology in their operations, and we visited the exhibitor booths of a number of companies that offer in-store RFID solutions.
RFID is a versatile technology that has a number of applications in retail stores. In the panel discussion we attended, we heard how three leading UK retailers are using the technology to make their operations more efficient. Participating in the panel were Richard Jenkins, Head of Loss Prevention & RFID at M&S; Rob Mitchell, Manager of Stock Management Operations at John Lewis; and Martin Speed, Loss Prevention Manager at River Island. The talk touched on the following points:
The talk concluded with a note on RFID applications for loss prevention. While Jenkins said that M&S does not use the technology for loss prevention, Speed said that River Island sees opportunities in using RFID to test new forms of security tags. Since RFID-enabled sensors can gather data in real time, they could help retailers quickly identify which loss-prevention solutions work best.
In addition to attending the panel discussion, we spoke to executives from two exibiting companies—MishiPay and MariElla Labels—which provide retailers with RFID-enabled solutions for their brick-and-mortar operations.
These examples of RFID applications show how different solutions can be merged into fewer and smaller devices (such as price tags) and how using RFID can help retailers significantly improve in-store conversion by solving problems such as shopping-basket abandonment. The executive from MishiPay shared some figures that quantify the problem: 70% of shoppers would rather not buy something than have to wait in line for five minutes to check out, and the total sales lost from customers abandoning their carts due to checkout lines is estimated to be $200 billion globally.
Our main takeaway from the first day at RBTE 2017 is that leading retailers in the UK are still using RFID technology mainly for inventory management and stock accuracy improvement. The next step will be the integration of the technology throughout the supply chain to increase item-level visibility in distribution centers and improve the handling of returns. Future in-store applications of RFID will enable increasingly integrated solutions that combine, in a single tag, functionality that ranges from payment solutions and dynamic pricing, to real-time inventory, to antitheft systems and interaction with other smart devices.