Radio-frequency identification (RFID) has fast-evolved from a technology used at the fringes of retail, to a global technology that is delivering business results to retailers everywhere. In the eight years that Accenture has studied RFID in retail, we have learned that not only is RFID here to stay—it’s growing.
After a year like no other, retailers are using technology to adapt to disruption. RFID is high on the list with just 5% of retailers we surveyed not considering RFID. In fact, the majority of retailers (80%) said the benefits of RFID cannot be replicated by another technology. RFID is clearly here to stay, and it’s exciting to imagine how retailers will use it next.
In overall adoption, North America continues to be the frontrunner with 93% of retailers surveyed using RFID. And when we look at full adoption (compared to just piloting or implementing), all three regions of North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific have seen huge increases since our previous RFID study two years ago.
Retailers are seeing the benefits. RFID facilitates greater accuracy of inventory and it is a key enabler of omnichannel capabilities. The increase in RFID adoption over the past two years has also overlapped with an increase in return on investment and expanded use cases for the technology.
In this year’s RFID research, we learned that the most adaptive retailers are discovering many new use cases, and although inventory visibility remains the top use case, supply chain visibility and omnichannel offerings are close behind.
As retail use cases increase, so does RFID value
Due to higher adoption, expanded use cases and increased omnichannel enablement, the return on investment for the technology continues to rise. And when retailers enable five or more omnichannel shopping experiences, they are seeing a 20% higher ROI compared to retailers that have only paired the technology with four or fewer omnichannel shopping experiences.
The pandemic has had a direct impact on RFID adoption as well as other technologies. And the good news for RFID is that a majority of respondents (82%) agree that RFID is essential for implementing emerging technologies. They also feel it works as a companion—with 83% of respondents agreeing.
ROI for full adopters of RFID with five or more omnichannel use cases.
Of retailers agree that RFID is essential for implementing emerging technologies.
Retailers unlock the potential of RFID
As with most new technologies, adoption requires significant changes and there is much for associates to learn—but most retailers believe the benefits far outweigh the challenges.
Retailers can successfully implement RFID by:
Quantifying the value of RFID investments
Retailers must develop detailed business cases, drawing on data to quantify the potential returns of rapid piloting and testing.
Identifying right suppliers/partners
To scale RFID, retailers may consider partnering with ecosystem technology partners, suppliers and advisors that can support rapid advancement.
Communicating with and training employees
RFID implementation requires significant changes to store operations, so a solid change strategy is critical to gain buy-in and generate support.
For RFID to be effective, it must be supported throughout a retailer’s organization—from sourcing to stores and all team members. Leadership can set the stage for adoption by sharing success stories with their people and explaining the path to value through RFID. Read our research report to learn more.