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Macy’s updates its RFID and omnichannel retail strategy

Macy’s continues to expand its omnichannel retail strategy and CEO Terry J. Lundgren says that RFID technology will be deployed to additional fashion categories next year. In addition, RFID will enable several new customer-centric pilots, including same day delivery for online orders.

“Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s remain committed to operating at the forefront of innovation, as well as fostering a locally relevant shopping experience in every store,” Lundgren said in a statement today. He said that Macy’s is seeing “tangible results” from deploying RFID.

RFID in Retail

Macy's will deploy RFID to additional fashion categories in 2015 as it aggressively expands its omnichannel retail strategy.

“We will continue to test, to learn, and to proceed aggressively with new ideas that excite our customers and that make shopping more convenient and fun. Our goal remains to help our customers shop whenever, wherever and however they prefer, and to use the entire inventory of the company to satisfy demand.”

Earlier this year Macy’s announced that it is using RFID on all shoe displays at 850 stores, which has allowed it to increase shoe display compliance from 65-70 percent to nearly 100 percent. Omnichannel retailing, which allows customers to order from mobile devices and pick up orders at nearby stores or arrange for prompt delivery, relies on near-perfect inventory accuracy.

In recent omnichannel pilots in fashion categories – social dresses, men’s sportcoats and men’s slacks – Macy’s documented RFID’s ability to significantly improve sales, gross margins and markdowns by better leveraging inventory counts that are real-time and accurate.

Men’s departments at most Macy’s are already highly penetrated with RFID, as most dress shirts, slacks, suits, belts and fashion accessories already carry RFID tags. Many women’s fashion items also carry RFID tags, and some specific vendor categories within home furnishings are also being tagged.

Pam Sweeney, senior vice president of logistics systems at Macy’s, said early this year that while additional product categories would be rolled out in 2014, the main focus for 2014 was to increase penetration with existing categories being tagged.

Item-level tagging and RFID technology are also driving Macy’s toward several new customer-centric initiatives, including a pilot for same-day delivery of products purchased online at macys.com, bloomingdales.com and on mobile-enabled websites.

This fall Macy’s will offer same-day delivery to customers in eight major U.S. markets, including Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New Jersey, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle and Washington. Deliveries to customers will be powered by Deliv, a rapidly growing crowdsourced same day delivery provider, in collaboration with major mall owners. Deliv raised $6.85 million in Series A funding last year.

Macy’s is piloting a variety of selling technology innovations at select stores in Georgia and New Jersey, including a new generation of enhanced handheld point-of-sale devices and tablets designed to improve the in-store shopping experience by enabling sales associates to engage customers more effectively, offer merchandise ideas and product information, and speed transactions.

Macy’s is testing Connect@Macy’s Centers in selected locations as in-store destinations for online order pickup, with increased associate staffing to help customers with styling advice and products that meet their needs. In pilot stores, customers also can shop Macy’s omnichannel assortment via electronic kiosks and large interactive “lookbook” displays, and purchase on mobile devices if they prefer. Those elements of new point-of-sale technology deemed most successful in serving customer needs are expected to be refined and rolled out to additional stores.

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