Big data in Retail industry – Real world uses and examples 1


1. Objective

Through this tutorial you will learn Big data applications and Big data uses in retail sector with examples along with use of RFID in retail. You will learn concepts related to Big data in retail industry like retail asset management, production tracking in retails industry, inventory control, Shipment, Regulatory Compliance, and Service and Warranty Authorizations and many other retail Big data use cases with examples.

big data in retail industry

2. Use of Big Data in Retail Industry

With the growth in retail industry with millions of transactions spread across multiple disconnected legacy systems, it is impossible to see the full picture of the data that is getting generated as Retail stores typically run on legacy POS systems that batch update on a daily basis and often do not communicate with each other. Daily updates are provided and the systems do not interact with each other.

Due to increasing market size, it can be an impossible task for a marketing analyst to understand the strength and health of their product or campaign and reconciling the data. Transaction data in its raw form helps a company understand its sales pattern. Savvy retailers can use big data – combining data from web browsing patterns, social media, industry forecasts, existing customer records and many other data to predict trends, prepare for demand, pinpoint customers, optimize pricing and promotions, and monitor real-time analytics and results.

3. Use of RFID Data in Retail

Let us see use of RFID in retail industry.

A radio frequency identification tag (RFID) tag, is a small tag which contains a unique serial number. It is placed on objects like shipping pallets or product packages. The tag can be attached to all sorts of things like merchandise, shipping containers, vehicles etc. An electronic scanner can then use radio signals to read or track the ID tag.

For example, to check inventory, a warehouse worker might use a hand-held RFID reader. The data on the tags might be numbers only, but once scanned, the numbers can be checked against a computer database to know exactly what the company has on hand. This can be used for identifying situations where no unit of a particular item is available on shelf in retail environment. In this manner, it helps in better tracking of shelf availability.

Various applications of Radio Frequency Identification Data in retail are asset management, production tracking, and shipping and receiving. RFID usage isn’t limited to the retail sector only. The pharmaceutical industry is already exploring how RFID tags could help identify counterfeit, and potentially harmful, drugs.

4. More Uses of RFID in Retail sector

Let us see few more uses of RFID in Retail:

  • Asset Management – By Use of RFID Tags, expensive tools or equipment can be located when workers need them, eliminating labor-intensive manual searches.
  • Production Tracking – RFID tags on raw materials in production process, manufacturers can gain real time visibility of work in progress
  • Inventory Control –By RFID, overall inventory levels can be improved by companies that will reduce labor costs and safety stocks.
  • Shipping and Receiving – Manifest information encoded in an RFID tag could be read by the sending or receiving organization to simplify the shipment or receiving process.
  • Regulatory Compliance – Companies that transport or process hazardous and regulated materials can record the time they receive and transfer the material on an RFID tag.
  • Service and Warranty Authorizations – Authenticating the product and customer with proprietary information can be used to authorize warranty and service work.

5. Asset Management

RFID can help in asset management as below:

  • RFID tags can be permanently attached to capital equipment and fixed assets.
  • Fixed-position readers placed at strategic points within a facility can automatically track the movement and location. This information can be used to quickly locate expensive tools or equipment when workers need them, eliminating labor-intensive manual searches.
  • Readers can be set to sound alarms to alert supervisors if there is an attempt to remove tagged items from an authorized area.
  • Customers are able to locate assets quickly and accurately as RFID technology reads multiple tags at once without requiring a line of site.

6. Production Tracking

RFID can also be used for production tracking as below:

RFID has been used in a number of practical applications, such as improving supply chain management, tracking household pets, accessing office buildings, and many more.

  • By applying RFID tags to raw materials in a production process, manufacturers can gain accurate, real-time visibility of the work-in-progress.
  • Companies can improve inventory levels and reduce labor costs and safety stocks by using the highly accurate, real-time and unattended monitoring capability of RFID for tracking raw materials, progress, and finished goods inventory.
  • Direct store delivery and other remote sales and service personnel can take advantage of RFID readers integrated with mobile computers for accurate counting of inventory held in stores or in a vehicle which will further reduce labor work and cost and help in better production tracking.

RFID technology can be used to track products similar to bar codes technology, but RFID also carries additional benefits. It does not need line of sight to read the tag, has a longer read range as compared to bar code reader, and tags can store more data than bar codes.

7. Shipment, Regulatory Compliance, and Service and Warranty Authorizations

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology is used for transferring data, for automatically identifying and tracking tags that are attached to objects and contain electronically stored information.

Various other uses of RFID include:

  • Items or pallets with RFID tags can be read as they are assembled into a complete customer order or shipment for better shipment process.
  • Manifest information encoded in an RFID tag could be read by the receiving organization to simplify the receiving process.
  • Companies that transport or process hazardous and regulated materials can record the time they receive and transfer the material on an RFID tag.
  • Authenticating the product and customer with proprietary information can be used to authorize warranty and service work.

Logistics and transportation are major areas of RFID technology implementation. In the railroad industry, RFID tags identify the owner, identification number and type of equipment and its characteristics. This can be used with a database to identify the source, destination, etc. of the commodities being carried.

RFID technology is being incorporated to support maintenance on commercial aircraft. RFID tags are used to identify baggage and cargo at several airports and airlines.

In this manner, Big Data helps retail industry in understanding market trends. Follow this guide to learn about Big data use in different sectors.


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One thought on “Big data in Retail industry – Real world uses and examples

  • David

    Great real world uses examples. RFID on products specially on electronic devices really helps when we quickly need to authenticate it and move on with repair, exchange etc.