Almost half (48%) of retailers believe frequently out-of-stock items cause the biggest challenge to them serving customers in today’s retail environment. With an additional half (48%) of retailers reportedly seeing improving the in-store customer experience as a top priority throughout 2022, the report casts light on industry focuses and trends going forward into 2023.
The data comes from the first of a two-part series, State of Retail 2023 Part 1: Order Fulfilment and the In-Store Customer Experience produced by SML RFID and which specifically analyses current trends and challenges facing the day-to-day operations of retailers. Through the report’s interaction with more than 500 senior decision-makers across the North America and EMEA apparel markets, the report attempts to uncover the ongoing challenges associated with post-pandemic retailing and resultant emerging trends.
The full report delves into the knock-on effects that the pandemic continues to have on retail, and how order fulfilment and the in-store customer experience have become a top priority moving forward. It is revealed that current economic and labour market conditions are having profound impacts on key players across the sector.
In fact, 39% of respondents claimed that labor and staffing shortages were directly impacting operations at the in-store level, with retail being one of the most impacted sectors to date.
2022 was a challenging year for the retail sector, with organisations having to adapt and remain agile within the evolving retail landscape. For example, inventory insights, frequently out-of-stock items and overall demands of omnichannel retailing were said to have a significant impact on the customer experience and order fulfilment.
The report highlights the difficulties stemming from omnichannel retailing, with home delivery (48%) and buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) (30%) playing a significant role in fulfilling customer orders, testament to the changing nature of post-pandemic retailing. The findings call attention to the industry’s need to focus on introducing a seamless omnichannel approach that can satisfy the renewed demands of customers across all channels.
Dean Frew, Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President for RFID Solutions at SML Group explains: “The retail sector continues to look for operational improvements and try and bounce back from the pandemic, and this report makes it clear that retailers recognize the need to remain agile and responsive to changing trends. By investing in the right solutions – such as item-level RFID – retailers can improve insights over inventory and stock, whilst reducing the impacts of ongoing labor shortages on the existing workforce.
“As an omnichannel revolution continues to become integral to retail success moving forward, retailers need to further consider the integration of RFID into their operations to ensure that they can meet customer demands and expectations. With RFID, retailers can have a complete view over inventory to make better enterprise decisions, and ultimately improve customer experience.”