The Business Case for Smartphone Scanning in Fashion Store Operations

Last year was one of the most disruptive ever faced by the fashion industry. Adapting to a challenging and changing retail environment. Facing store closures and trading restrictions, lower sale and shifting shopping behaviors which placed operations under severe strain.

2020 clothing sales were down 25.1% on 2019, making fashion the sector 'worst affected by restrictions'.

Now fashion retailers must take stock and look forward. There are some clear priorities to boost the recovery and position for future success:

  • Maximizing revenues
  • Minimizing store costs
  • Ensuring smooth running store operations, aligned with consumer and business needs.

And the right technology can support all of these business imperatives.

But when further disruption is unacceptable, you need a solution that seamlessly slots into your operations and delivers tangible benefits – both immediate and longer term. Leveraging smartphones powered by scanning-enabled apps in store operations is one easy to implement, accessible, proven answer in the post-pandemic landscape.

With smartphones, employees have a single, familiar device for a host of retail tasks, helping to optimize processes, work with speed and efficiency and deliver business value.

Here we’ll dig into the business case for smartphone scanning in fashion, and highlight four measurable benefits.

Benefit 1: Reduce the Total Cost of Ownership

As fashion retailers look to stabilize, tightening your belts is clearly an essential step.

Scanning is a fundamental requirement in many retail workflows, from inventory tracking to stock taking to shelf management. Workers typically scan hundreds of times per shift. But replacing expensive dedicated scanning devices with more cost-effective scanning-enabled smartphones helps to reduce your Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), without compromising on scan performance with Scandit.

In fact, TCO of a Scandit software scanning solution on smart devices is typically one-third that of traditional dedicated scanning devices.

So rather than a shared pool of single-function hardware scanners per store, you can put a scanning-enabled smart device in every employee’s hands. Scandit-enabled smartphones are capable of scanning with speed and accuracy, in challenging conditions (from dark stock rooms to damaged labels), to accomplish a range of tasks, while still unlocking savings.

Stocking taking retail

Not sharing devices is also a preferable approach for employees to avoid risks of infection.

What’s more, if you need to scale up staff for peak shopping season you can take advantage of a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) model and empower these temporary staff to use their own personal smartphones. Simply download a scanning-enabled app, powered by Scandit to ensure enterprise-grade performance on over 20,000 device makes and models, and off they go. No hardware costs for the retailer. Using an app-based approach and their familiar personal devices minimizes the time for training too.

Benefit 2: Get more for less, while improving efficiency and productivity

Whether it’s deploying corporate-owned or BYOD smartphones, or a combination of both, the result is more devices in more hands across your operations.

Previously, staff may have needed to carry or utilize multiple devices to accomplish different operational processes or workflows throughout their shifts. Moving to a single device strategy, where each retail associate has a multi-functional device which empowers them to complete any task delivers clear business benefits in terms of boosting productivity.

Staff can seamlessly switch from assisting customers in store with clienteling apps on mobile devices, to picking items to fulfill online orders, to doing inventory checks in the backroom as needed.

Quick and easy scanning through a rack of clothes.

Retailers have unlocked a host of productivity benefits using Scandit-powered smartphones, including:

  • 11,000 employee hours saved per day – A large French retailer calculated 11,000 hours saved per day across their business by deploying smartphones with Scandit scanning to automate manual and labor-intensive retail tasks.
  • 34% time savings by not using shared devices – A large grocer in the Middle East estimated efficiency savings of 34% by moving to a single device for multiple tasks, including 10% for inventory management alone.

Ultimately we can only carry so much. Smartphone scanning means your staff are not weighed down with different tools. In addition to scanning, they can use the phone for other information-related tasks for that additional productivity gain.

Benefit 3: Improve inventory accuracy, boost order fulfilment, save money

Check inventory in the storeroom.

With online orders surging, having an accurate real-time understanding of precisely what is in your inventory, and where it is, is crucial for fashion retailers.

In fact, maintaining excessive inventories leads to widespread markdowns, creating billions of dollars of lost revenue as just 60% of items were purchased at full price in 2020 according to McKinsey.

Traditional stock counting methods can provide accuracy levels of as little as 65%, with manual errors or failure to update systems as they go, leaving retailers making decisions from inaccurate data and customers potentially disappointed.

Giving every employee a scanning-enabled smartphone, seamlessly integrated with your backend systems, means every time they scan an item, your inventory data is updated in real-time. And with the Scandit Barcode Scanner SDK, you can be sure your scanning performance on smartphones is just as reliable as a dedicated hardware scanner.

So every scan during stock takes or replenishment (or other operational task) is reliable and the data seamlessly captured into your stock management systems. This helps keep track of inventory across your store network and boost accuracy levels in real-time to up to 98.5% in store 99.99% online.

For some retailers, a real-time view into inventory data resulted in significantly improved stock accuracy levels

One large UK-based sports fashion retailer was able to use this enhanced visibility from employees completing inventory counts using Scandit scanning-enabled smartphones to reduce the impact of overstocks and make faster, more informed decisions based on customer demand.

Benefit 4: Greater employee satisfaction and retention

One major differentiator to entice consumers back into physical shops will be delivering a great customer experience – and your store staff have a crucial role to play. Happy and empowered staff equal satisfied customers.

Giving staff a lightweight, modern smart device with a big screen, that is easy to carry in their pocket all day is a great way to keep employees happy. In extensive user testing, retailers have reported to Scandit that their staff preferred the ergonomics and experience of using smartphones. This even included veteran staff who have been using hardware scanners for years previously.

Another benefit of the smartphone form factor is access to essential information in the palm of your hand, anywhere in store on a personal device:

  • 50% reduction in step count per shift – one Scandit customer found that employees with smart devices halved their step count on average per shift, due to not having to go to the backroom or a fixed terminal to access information to answer customer questions or check availability of items.
  • Contactless for safer operations – giving every employee an individual device boosts not only job satisfaction, but morale and peace of mind during COVID-times where touching fewer shared devices is reassuring.

Deliver tangible benefits now – while building a platform for future innovation

These four areas represent just a few of the ways deploying smartphones into your fashion retail operations can deliver tangible business benefits to help you understand the potential for your business. It can be deployed into existing operations very rapidly, with minimal disruption and critically without significant upfront investment.

And crucially it’s a flexible solution to help you adapt your operations as your business and customer needs change. Smartphone scanning powered by mobile computer vision has unlimited potential to turbocharge efficiency, deliver new customer experiences and differentiate your brand by leveraging innovative technology such as augmented reality, ID scanning and more.

Check out our guide ‘How Fashion Retailers are Redesigning Their Digital Future’ to learn more.