Case-level RFID tagging can deliver a step change in on-shelf availability, but only if retailers change the way they receive and process goods in-store, leading suppliers have claimed.
Scanning full roll cages laden with cases with RFID readers as they go into store backrooms and then re-scanning the empty packaging when they return would provide a more accurate picture of what was on the shelf, said Kraft director, international b2b strategy, Peter Jordan. This data could then be monitored against EPoS sales.
“You don’t need smart shelves and item-level tagging for this,” said Jordan, who has been working on RFID projects with Metro and Wal-Mart. “But you do need to change the way you do things in the store.”
Retailers could also use RFID as a research tool, added Nigel Bagley, head of customer e-business at Unilever, which is working on trials in Brazil and Germany using RFID in its own supply chain to track pallets at depots and monitor temperature on ice creams.
He said: “Our research shows that cases sometimes go back and forth from the retailer’s backroom to the shop floor two or three times on a dolly.
“That is highly inefficient and suggests that the replenishment cycle for that product is not working.
“Scanning cases as they come back off the shopfloor would quickly identify where this is happening.”
Likewise, small scale trials of smart shelving and item-level tagging could be used to pinpoint problems rather than as a precursor to a full-blown roll out, which wouldn’t be commercially viable, he said.
“Take DVDs. Retailers can use RFID and smart shelves to identify peak purchasing times and then design more appropriate replenishment cycles or staffing patterns to fit around these purchasing habits.”