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New RFID Lab will focus on the store of the future

Retailers are still embracing RFID for the improved inventory accuracy that the technology provides, but many first adopters are beginning to look beyond inventory use cases.

Use cases like loss prevention, consumer engagement and multichannel store checkout options will be a major focus of the new RFID Lab when the facility moves from the University of Arkansas to Auburn University next month.

When the new RFID Lab opens at Auburn University, the facility will examine how increased inventory accuracy will impact store processes in the future.

Justin Patton, the longtime director of the RFID Research Center, which will go by the name of RFID Lab when it moves, says that many retailers are inquiring about what their stores will look like in 10 years when item level RFID is commonplace. With that in mind, part of the new RFID Lab will be devoted to a “95 Percent Store” concept, emblematic of how a retail store will function with inventory accuracy levels at a constant 95 percent or higher.

“A constant question we get from retailers, especially those who have been using RFID for a long time, is what will my store look like in five to 10 years,” says Patton. “That’s where the 95 percent concept came from. Retailers are excited to learn how inventory accuracy will change store processes.”

As the new RFID Lab is built at an old supermarket near the campus of Auburn University, the “95 Percent Store” store concept will emulate what processes might look like between back room and front room inventory, what processes employees will follow, and how those processes will impact checkout, display, promotions and other retail strategies in the future.

“The goal of the 95 percent store is to not only just show retailers how the technology works, but how it can change your store in the very near future when you begin to implement RFID,” says Patton. “So it’s the next generation of the store, rather than just seeing some handhelds scanning apparel items.”

Since inventory represents the top investment for retailers, executives are anxious to learn more about how the accuracy provided by RFID will impact shelf inventory and total store inventory levels, and how changes can be made to reduce the amount of store inventory while maintaining the same or greater level of sales.

By having accurate inventory counts, retailers will also be able to shift store associates from replenishment efforts to customer-facing positions.

 

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