Card supplier, Riverside Greetings, has invested in RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) and AI (Artificial Intelligence) technology to create a £25m sales opportunity in the convenience and forecourt sector, which will in turn generate £12.5m in profit.
The company has created an automated inventory and category management system that marries AI with RFID technology to analyse and increase the greeting card category performance, whilst significantly improving the productivity and effectiveness of its merchandising service.
Riverside’s new, patent pending, technology, is being piloted in several test stores in England, bringing significant benefits for all independent convenience retailers and forecourt operators.
Through the use of the technology, merchandisers will be able to complete a full stock count of hundreds of cards by design in less than two minutes, with 100% accuracy versus the current manual counting system which can take 30 to 45 minutes.
This improved granularity of data will enable each store’s range to be automatically analysed and improved by the merchandiser. Aggregated sales data by design will show trends and patterns and create best practice ranges automatically.
Additionally, the Riverside design team will have performance data by design which will enable them to better understand the characteristics of the best-selling designs and use these insights to inform the creative process.
The application of this new technology has been developed with the support of academic experts at Leeds Beckett University as part of a two-year Knowledge Transfer Partnership, part-funded by the Government through Innovate UK.
Riverside Greetings managing director, Andrew Glen, estimates that this new approach will grow sales with existing customers by more than 20% whilst freeing up our merchandiser’s time to spend on even more business development initiatives.
He said: “Many card suppliers have chosen not to invest in the independent convenience sector whilst favouring multiple grocers and online sales. We are proven specialists in the convenience and forecourt market and believe that there is a significant sales and profit opportunity when a shopper centric approach is taken to the greeting cards category.
“That’s why we have invested in developing this revolutionary new technology which is going to provide us with real-time information and transform the overall category performance.”
Riverside’s operational model provides consignment stock for retailers who then only pay for what they sell, which means that they don’t have cash tied up in stock. To minimise the burden on retailers, Riverside uses only three barcodes for their entire card range, which means that designs can be added to or removed from ranges with no changes to EPOS systems.
“We are very excited about this new approach,” added Glen. “Our conservative estimate for the scale of the opportunity for the sector measures it at £25 million. This figure [based on the average of £500 per store across 50,000 stores] will generate approximately £12.5m of incremental profit for retailers.
“Unlike franchise-based sales models which don’t invest into the sector, our approach has always been to provide a consistent, predictable and measurable service to sites all over the UK. As word has spread about the difference we make, our customer base has grown significantly, and we anticipate that this development will accelerate that growth even further.”