Neil Matthews, Vice president of retail security firm Checkpoint Systems.
An excellent shopping experience is the foundation on which a successful retail operation is built and there can be few sectors where this is truer than fashion.
While knowledgeable and personable employees able to offer informed advice and assistance are important, the cornerstone of meeting shoppers’ requirements remains the availability of merchandise - ensuring the right items are in the right place at the right time.
Out-of-stock items can prove costly to retailers for a range of reasons, with loss of a potential sale being only the most obvious.
The Retail Feedback Group’s 2012 Supermarket Experience showed 50% of shoppers who couldn’t find an item in stock went to another store to buy it. Furthermore, out-of-stocks can harm future sales, with frustrated shoppers switching their loyalties to outlets that more reliably stock the items they are looking for.
In some respects, ensuring the right garments arrive in store at the right time is harder than ever - inventory turnover is faster, global supply chains are growing in complexity and internet retailing complicates stock level monitoring. In addition, theft poses problems for retailers and results in items being out of stock.
The good news is that supply chain and loss-prevention technologies address the issues of modern retail. One example is radio frequency identification (RFID), which is being deployed chain-wide by large clothing retailers and brand owners across the globe.
Unlike a barcode, RFID combines a product code with a serial number to uniquely identify each item. The additional supply chain visibility this offers is a powerful tool in reducing out-of-stocks and improving the consumer shopping experience.
Successful fashion retail involves knowing what has happened in store, as well as what will happen - it takes a synergy of hardware, software and data analytics to get right.