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Smart City Sentinel

Using IoT and RFID for Better Inventory Management

By Special Guest
Megan R. Nichols, Correspondent

Inventory management is a hidden challenge throughout the retail industry, and can be much harder than it looks. Around the holidays, inventory management becomes a significant undertaking. First, products fly off the shelves, then some get returned, while others sit on the shelves to stay for months after the fact. Being able to manage all these numbers is an art the Internet of Things can help with.

The Internet of Things, or IoT, can use technology to make a better record of all inventory coming in and out of a store, even for online retail. IoT can calculate everything from shoppers who only browse through items to people who never set foot in the store to what ads consumers respond best to. Gathering real-time information with IoT is a relatively new technology that's making waves.

RFID tags used with IoT to keep track of physical inventory can be the key to inventory management. Rather than only keeping track of numbers, you can now watch inventory in real time, especially since not everything always goes smoothly. In cases of thieves or lost product for other reasons, you can always know where your products are, or at least how many are in your brick-and-mortar stores.

Shelf Management
RFID tags are cost-effective and only require a power source if you get the battery-operated kind. The passive RFID tags don't need any power to work. With these means, you can have them set on all the inventory in the store. RFID chips on clothes are a common sight, allowing retailers to always know where their inventory is.

Along with the IoT, retailers can always have an eye in the sky to see what is where. Shelf sensors and high-resolution cameras are just the tip of the iceberg regarding what retailers can do these days. As long as you use the technology correctly and efficiently, you can look after inventory on the shelf with a keen eye, whether you're worried about foul play or just something popular getting sold out.

Warehouse Management
The warehouse is where you have the most significant need to keep track of all your inventory. If you don't have enough of a popular product in your warehouse, problems could set in immediately. With RFID tags and readers, you can observe in real time how many items you have and how fast they move around. Tracking your warehouse inventory is a smart way to watch online sales, too.

Combined with the IoT, smart warehouses can keep up with everything, including the employees. The IoT allows different types of devices to communicate, so you're always getting accurate information most efficiently. By using RFID in warehouses, there's not even a need to run barcodes anymore.

Time Is Money
RFIDs not only make inventory more accurate and efficient, but they also save a lot of time by preventing the need for scanning barcodes or labels. By combining RFID with IoT in stores and warehouses, retailers can save a lot of money in the long run, especially since this technology is so cost-effective. Many retailers are already using smart technology in their businesses, so catching up to the competition with these simple tools should be a walk in the park.




Edited by Ken Briodagh
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