Unit-level tracking isn't a luxury. It's a necessity.
By: Samantha Griffin
Around the world, companies hold onto stock they know nothing about, or worse, promise products to customers they don’t have. Typically, retailers and brands operate on data that is only 65% accurate, wasting $1.5 trillion of revenue opportunities.
Retailers and brands without deep unit-level insights disappoint customers and miss business targets due to:
- Canceled orders
- Unplanned clearance events
- Unsatisfied SLAs
- Lack of agility
One of the technologies that allows companies to better track their inventory data is RFID.
Agile Companies Thrive
Solutions such as RFID allow companies to collect and share data about individual items. That level of data makes it possible to quickly and efficiently respond to customer needs and market conditions.
For example, one of Dsco’s customers, a leading off-price department store with over $3B in annual revenue and hundreds of stores worldwide, was facing store closures and massive drops in foot traffic due to COVID-19. But because the department store was already sitting on a gold mine of product data, they were able to launch Ship from Store in under two weeks, unlocking $250M in trapped inventory.
Nike as well, has been able to improve their customer experience by leveraging unit-level tracking to provide customers with product information like inventory quantities, sizes, alternate styles and colors, and product comparisons. This information, collected by tracking and consolidating unit-level product details, enables purchase decisions online and in-store, creating a smooth omnichannel experience for Nike’s customers.
Three Steps for Maximizing Unit Level Tracking
To fully capture the value of a system like RFID tagging, retailers and brands need to be able to use that data to drive business goals.
There are 3 basic steps for maximizing value from a unit-level tracking system:
Step 1. Start tracking individual physical products: Implement RFID or a similar solution to tag physical products. Capture basic and advanced product details for each item like the product category, attributes, and location.
Step 2. Connect data to other critical systems: Synchronize the data feeds from in-store or warehouse RFID readers with distributed order management, trading partners, demand planning tools, data visualization, and other enterprise retail technologies.
(Note: Many legacy systems do not support unit-level tracking. Dsco allows real-time or scheduled integrations to capture unit-level product data, with no additional data-sharing or storage fees.)
Step 3. Make moves: Create new connections and business rules in corresponding systems, or leverage a data exchange platform like Dsco as your single source of truth to automate data validation, item detail sharing, exception management, order routing simulations, and other deep data analysis.
Unit-Level Tracking Drives Revenue
The more you know about your inventory, the more influence you will have over operational costs and revenue-driving experiences. According to Gartner, “With item-level RFID, retailers have experienced an improvement in inventory accuracy from roughly 65% to 99% — a 50% reduction in out-of-stock items, and 2% to 7% an average sales lift.”
Unit-level tracking enables cost reductions by helping you answer critical questions like:
- What can I promise to sell, right now?
- What do I need to order?
- What inventory isn’t moving?
While adding confidence to answer merchandising questions such as:
- What variations does X-product come in?
- Do I have it in stock, and if so, how much of each variation is available?
- Where, geographically and within a building, is it located right now?
Additionally, with unit-level details you can provide customers with more order information like:
- Can I pick up my order from a local store instead?
- If my order didn’t ship in-full, which items am I still waiting for?
- Where are those items coming from?
Overall RFID not only increases revenue and saves companies millions of dollars every year through lower opportunity costs and cancellations, it also creates a better customer experience, better analytics, better forecasting, and higher integration between channels.
The world is moving fast. Implement and integrate unit-level tracking so you can move faster.