Navigate Complex Order Fulfillment with RAIN RFID: a Q+A with RIS
In this Q+A, we sat down with RIS and asked Ashley Burkle, senior manager of retail industry here at Impinj, how RAIN RFID can be the tool retailers need to achieve omni-channel fulfillment.
Today’s digital orders need to be fulfilled as fast as possible. What sort of errors are retailers seeing that are leading to less shipment accuracy in the face of speed?
With the pressure of Amazon and rising customer expectations, speed and accuracy of order fulfillment is more critical than ever.
With a focus on increasing speed to meet demand, manual processes can introduce errors during the order-pick-and-pack process. The most common error is packing the wrong item, color or size. But problems are not limited to this. Orders can require extra time because needed items aren’t easily located, which can cause delays, cancellations, or rerouting for fulfillment from other stores or warehouses.
This “hot potato” activity isn’t efficient or effective for retail operations or for customer satisfaction. Basically, the lack of automation and the right technology solution means more mistakes, with additional time and cost impacts. Having to hunt for each item, assuming it’s actually available in stock, slows the process and wastes costly man-hours.
Are retailers having to cancel online orders because they don’t have a good view of where inventory is?
Unfortunately, yes. The order cancellation rate is in double digits for some retailers, which is wreaking havoc on customer experience and satisfaction. The most frustrating part is that retailers often do have the item that was ordered, they just don’t know where it is. It could be hidden on the sales floor or in a stock room, a distribution center, or another store, but the lack of accurate item-level visibility means the order gets pushed around from location to location causing additional costs and delays.
Other times the accuracy of the inventory is so poor the retailer has no confidence in the on-hand quantities, so they remove items from online availability as a precaution, which impacts the shopper experience and leads to lost potential sales.
How is RAIN RFID capable of solving complexity issues brought on by fulfilling orders from both DCs and stores?
The retail supply chain used to be a linear process. But, omni-channel retailing has added complexities such as fulfilling from multiple locations at the same time. This opens retailers up to mis-shipments, increased costs, and, of course, customer disappointment.
Accurate inventory visibility, process automation, and item location provided by RAIN RFID help retailers navigate complex order fulfillment. Using RAIN RFID, retailers can route a single order to multiple places to be picked based on variables including the type of product, how close a store is to the order’s destination, or what store has abundant stock. Items can be picked and packed efficiently by locating the right item quickly and validating the packaging for accuracy along multiple checkpoints.
How can RAIN RFID help retailers reduce their need for safety stock levels?
Adding RAIN RFID tags at the item level raises inventory accuracy and allows retailers to know what they have and where they have it, down to every last unit. This means they can confidently expose all inventory units on hand and make them available to promise for omni-channel orders—in real time across all stores. Items remain available online until all units are depleted, and they can be sold at full price, reducing markdowns and stray excess inventory pieces.
As the retailer’s confidence in their inventory accuracy goes up, their reliance on safety stock goes down and is eventually eliminated, as well as the drain on their balance sheet. Research has shown that retailers using RAIN RFID were able to eliminate preventable out-of-stock events and deliver sales increases without increasing inventory or depending upon safety stock.
Want to visualize the path from customer expectations to fulfillment? Download our infographic here.