Home improvement chain Lowe's is using mobile devices and inventory technology
to streamline the process of checking whether items are in stock, the Washington Post reports. Employees carry tablet computers or smartphones that have been equipped with the appropriate inventory software
in order to assist shoppers immediately, as Chad Wallace, assistant store manager of the Lowe's in Gaithersburg, Maryland, explained to the news source. The technological advances negate the need for employees to leave customers on the shop floor while they check stock rooms, fire up computer kiosks or call other local stores to inquire whether they have particular items in stock. In addition to facilitating inventory tracking, these solutions also allow users to ring up sales away from the point of sale, as well as check competitors' prices.
"It's been a great tool for helping customers right there on the spot," Wallace told the media outlet
. "A lot of customers are impressed that we're able to use the phone to scan something on the shelf and find out the quantity."RFID—another option
Smartphones and tablets aren't the only high-tech developments that are transforming the inventory management landscape for retailers. Radio frequency identification (RFID) devices that track products by means of intelligent barcode tags which wirelessly transfer data have become a popular method of monitoring items' locations and deterring theft, although some retailers balk at their high cost.Retailers bolstering inventory management-related investments
The price of RFID technology may be out of some companies' comfort levels, but by and large, retailers seem willing to ramp up spending on solutions that allow them to better align and automate inventory processes such as ordering, restocking and storing. According to the Post, a recent study by Auburn University and the Retail Industry Leaders Association revealed that more than eight in 10 surveyed merchants planned to maintain or increase their investments in this area in 2012, clearly indicating that streamlining inventory management is a priority across the board.
Technology can also be beneficial in terms of helping retailers ensure they are properly complying with inventory legislation
, regulations and policies. In general, retailers that automate their inventory-related practices lower their risk of noncompliance while simultaneously boosting accuracy and increasing efficiency.