Tracking the path to success

Ramp RFID: Inventory accuracy the right key for retail

From fish to people to clothing to trucks to mineral samples, Ramp RFID tracks them all.

RFID stands for radio-frequency identification and for the past eight years Ramp RFID, which specialises in asset tracking, vehicle tracking and people tracking, has been tracking pretty well itself with a history of growth and success.

After beginning its business in the port sector, tracking millions of truck visits to and from Australia’s ports each year, the company has expanded into oil, gas and mining and now into retail, an area where the awareness of the need for change is coming rapidly to the fore.

“At the moment it seems to be particularly hot,” Kevin Cohen, Ramp’s CEO and founder, said. “I think there’s a whole bunch of market pressures, certainly on Australian retailers because of the new entrants from overseas and online, whether it’s local or overseas players. The incumbent bricks and mortar retailers are realising that their hands are tied behind their back in terms of their visibility into their inventory and it’s becoming quite necessary for businesses to look to technology to solve many of their problems.

“I’ve seen the research on the Internet of Things (IoT) and most CEOs are aware of it and are starting to think: Well, what can it to do for me? Let’s explore it.”

For Ramp, IoT means transforming the everyday physical objects that surround us into an ecosystem of information that can enrich our lives or our business outcomes.

“We think that providing visibility to tens of millions of assets will allow us to be a driving force in delivering solutions to significantly optimise assets or inventory value for enterprises. And as a result of that we can facilitate smarter leaner business processes, enabling data driven decision making which will increase profitability for our clients.”

Managing inventory is an essential part of any well-run business but research has shown that retailers have a particularly poor knowledge of their inventory accuracy, which is the difference between what they physically hold and what they think they hold.

“They’ve got no idea because they don’t have any data, but we know that it’s typically less than 70%,” he said. That sort of inventory (in)accuracy means that consumers may not be able to buy the goods they want through a shortage of the required colour, size or product, which can come at a considerable cost to the retailer, especially when Ramp’s “Locafi´solution can automatically drive stock replenishment.

The challenge Kevin has is getting retailers to understand the incredible return on investment that accurate inventory can bring, returns that can see anything from a 2% to a 14% increase in sales.

“In fact, in many cases the ROI analysis that my customers are doing, they come back to me and say: ‘I can’t put this to a board; it’s ridiculous. They’re going to laugh at me that I’m going to grow sales this much.’ So, we have to scale that back. It’s almost like it’s too good to believe in some cases.”

The Locafi Solution is hosted on the Azure cloud and Kevin believes the use of Power BI and other analytic tools will see huge interest from customers who are currently leaving a lot of data unutilised.

“We’ve had a fantastic experience since we’ve become a Microsoft Intelligent Systems and now a Microsoft IoT partner, it’s been brilliant for our business. The relationship is really strong, Microsoft have introduced us to lots of their clients who are looking to solve problems and to potential partners in terms of working together to deliver solutions. It’s been fantastic.”

And the fish that we mentioned at the start? Well, Ramp track the fish on the floor in the Sydney fish market, proving that the Internet of Things covers just about everything – under both the sun and the sea.


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