In The News


Retail’s Big Show: Reporting from the retail technology front line

By Glynn Davis 

What themes will we be seeing in the retail tech space over the next year according to the 2024 National Retail Federation’s Big Show?

Retail technology’s annual jamboree returned to New York City for Retail’s Big Show, organised by the National Retail Federation (NRF), attracting senior retailers and technology providers from around the world looking to gain insights into the latest offerings impacting the sector.
. . .

Radio-frequency identification

. . .  Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is a long-established technology that has interestingly been enjoying an accelerated level of adoption and roll-out by retailers recently. According to Dean Frew, group chief technology officer at SML, the rise in use of buy online, pick-up in-store (Bopis) by consumers post-pandemic is driving demand for RFID as retailers recognise they need to dramatically improve the accuracy of their tracking of inventory.

Typically, retailers have between 55-75% inventory accuracy, which has led to issues. “Retailers can’t live with the cancel rates of Bopis orders because of stock not being available,” he says. “They either beef up their inventory [with more stock held as a buffer], or they cancel the orders. For some retailers, it can be 50% cancel rates. More retailers realise the ramifications of compensating for poor accuracy.”

For a growing number of retailers, the alternative option is to invest in RFID.

Improved accuracy also helps retailers ahead of supply chain-impacting activity such as changes in the weather. Its impact on the supply chain can certainly be dramatic, and the use of technology from the likes of Planalytics can enable retailers to predict demand and adjust their supply chains accordingly. According to Scott Bernhardt, president at Planalytics, such services can improve planning accuracy by 20%, and for supermarkets specifically, they can reduce perishable waste costs by 10-35%.

Aaron Cano, senior vice-president of analytics and marketing operations at Fresh Direct, works with Planalytics to deal with weather-driven demand (WDD). “It has a huge impact on demand,” he says. “If it snows two inches or rains for five days, then what’s the impact? Demand can increase 20% on Thursday and Friday before rain is forecast. If we know the forecast a few days out then we can amend the supply chain.”

He also highlights how staffing levels are impacted by the weather from people not turning up for work, so it’s sensible to gear up the staffing levels beforehand. “There’s a ripple effect on the business from the weather,” says Cano. “With a forecast, we can automate, through machine learning, changes to the supply chain.”

And for Joshua Niebler, senior director of e-commerce experience at US-based Dick’s Sporting Goods, its work on WDD is enabling it to highly tailor the home page for customers. “Weather relevance is a priority,” he says. “We’re personalising the online experience.”

Read entire article.