Though highly rewarding, the retail business is also highly challenging. There are numerous worthy competitors for the retail dollar and retailers must always be willing and able to adjust course when needed.
In order to stay competitive, most retailers have learned to adapt by lowering expenses and working smarter. A key component of this is inventory.
To work smarter, retailers must have an accurate inventory at all times so they can:
- Prevent overstocking items that may not sell
- Stock more of the items that do sell
- Have a keen understanding of which items to put by the door for increased sales
- Easily restock sizes and colors that are sold from the back stock
- Quickly reorder to replenish sold items
American Apparel turned to Senitron to help with these inventory challenges and was delighted with the results.
When barcodes were introduced, it seemed that the retail inventory problem was solved. But while there were many advantages, there were some drawbacks. One problem is that inventory takers have to scan each item 1 by 1 until inventory is completed. This is a time-consuming process and as time equals money, the expense can be great.
Because the expense is significant, many retailers only do inventory twice a year because doing it more often would cost too much money in labor and time.
When labels with RFID were introduced, the inventory process got easier. Inventory personnel don’t have to physically touch each item. Instead, they take a handheld RFID reader, walk around and wave the reader like a wand to grab items in their vicinity.
The RFID solution is better, and certainly reduces labor costs, allowing retailers to take inventory more often. But it’s still a method that can’t be done very often because time still has to be allotted for inventory.
The Senitron Solution
The Senitron Solution is an exciting addition that solves the retail inventory conundrum. Retailers can enjoy real-time inventory thanks to Senitron’s fixed, patented RFID technology.
The Senitron Solution entails installing ceiling-mounted RFID readers that fully cover any retail environment and that regularly feed information about inventory counts to the Senitron server.
This setup solves a major problem for retailers. Knowing what items are in stock at every minute and where items are located on the sales floor and in the back is infinitely useful. This live and constant flow of information provides intelligence to retail stores that was never before available.
The Senitron Solution can answer questions that retailers have such as:
- What’s in stock
- How many piece are available of a particular item
- The number of items available in each color or size
- Information about back stock
More than just providing answers to these questions, the Senitron Solution is almost omniscient in its knowledge of what’s happening on the retail floor.
Examples for Retailers
A customer heads into your retail store and buys a yellow vest, size medium. As soon as the vest is sold, the Senitron software sends a replenishment command to your employees, asking them to restock the yellow vest on the floor; the system sees that there is back stock of yellow vests.
Once the vests are restocked, the replenishment request auto resolves. The employee doesn’t need to tell the Senitron system that the item was restocked because the system sees that. It’s easy to see how this system can reduce the burden on managers to command employees. Instead, these types of concerns become automated.
Even if you’re a retailer with hundreds of stores, you no longer have to worry about managers spending time restocking inventory.
Misplaced Items Examples
Customers often walk into a store looking for a specific item, and the inventory system indicates the item is in stock. But where is it? In the past, employees would have to scavenge for items while under pressure with the customer looking on.
With the Senitron system, items can be located anywhere on the sales floor or in the back stock with the touch of a button. Even if that item is among a thousand other items and is hard to find physically, the Senitron system will be able to show you where it is on the sales floor.
Template Commands From HQ
Retailers with a number of locations often have certain requirements that hundreds of stores must follow for where to place new items and how to display items. In the past, the store’s headquarters would send a request to store management and store personnel and assume or hope that the placements are done in a reasonable period of time and to the set requirements.
These templates can change often to accommodate a sale or change in season. It can be hard to determine which stores are adhering to management requests and which are slower to respond and comply.
With the Senitron Solution, management at headquarters knows exactly which store has complied with a store template change and which has not.
Keeping retail stores organized is a challenge. And if that store has a large number of products, organization is a never-ending challenge. Retail store employees can spend a significant portion of their time putting items back in proper places. If items aren’t returned to proper places, sales might be missed and revenue can decrease.
The Senitron system knows where all items are located and it can tell that a group of items of the same kind are close to each other. If an item is separated from its group, it can issue a command to personnel to put the item back with its group.
To make the process even easier, the system will show where the misplaced item is and where it needs to go. As soon as the item is returned to its proper place, the command is auto resolved.
Many companies have considered selling products online; these items might be spread throughout different brick-and-mortar stores. But managers quickly realize that selling in-store products online is a major challenge because items that are assumed to be in stock are perhaps missing or have been misplaced. Sometimes sales have to be cancelled, which upsets customers and has the collateral effect of a damaged reputation and reduced likelihood of repeat sales.
The Senitron system empowers retailers to sell online and through other channels with the confidence of knowing that products are in stock and are ready to be sold and shipped.
There are generally two kinds of theft in retail environments: External theft from customers stealing products and walking out the door with them, and internal theft from the employees themselves.
- To help decrease external theft, our reader monitors the entry and exit points of the store and can alert when a product passes through that zone, notifying employees and security that an item has breached the store exit. This can be integrated to the CCTV system to video/photograph the person who will be “caught” stealing. To prevent customers from stealing by cutting off tags, we can place the tag on fabric labels of the clothing or use a dual Sensormatic/RFID tags.
- To help decrease internal theft, readers are constantly monitoring all tagged items in real time and can pinpoint the location of an item, specifically where it was last seen. This tracking is highly effective at deterring employees from stealing because they know that this monitoring is occurring constantly. The system also allows the asset protection teams to review transaction data with CCTV footage to pinpoint theft within hours instead of days.
American Apparel was initially interested in the Senitron Solution because they were trying to lower their continuous labor expenses that are involved when doing inventory using hand-held RFID scanners. Once they installed the Senitron Solution, however, they unlocked a number of amazing capabilities they couldn’t have imagined.