RFID a Solution to Inventory and Shipment Tracking

Tracking a package either in the warehouse or while it is in transit has been a source of headaches. RFID technology eliminates this issue almost entirely, a computer tied to a warehouse scanner can identify specific item to a specific location immediately, no longer will someone have to go hunting for an item in a warehouse. It eases tracking woes by being scanned at different checkpoints and depending on the type of RFID chip being used, it can even provide specific up to date location information without needing to call up a shipping company or having to look for a tracking number.

The current standard method of tracking shipments uses barcodes and scanners, something most of us are familiar with. RFID technology simplifies the process by sending out a broad signal that registers when the signal into contact with an RFID chip, it does not need to be directly facing it and also does not need to be directly in front of it at a close range. This would allow for a faster scanning process saving time when receiving or sending out shipments of any size.

Barcodes can and have been effectively utilized as a method of tracking and logging shipments, but they are not without their flaws. Exposure to elements, malfunctioning scanners, an improperly set label, are just a some of the things can lead to an improper scan and thus an interruption of the work process. RFID eliminate this because each chip is assigned the specific data it carries digitally, and the signal that ‘activates’ the RFID to receive the data from it is not dependent on directly facing close to a scanner. The benefit of RFID is that it reduces the chance of errors in scanning and allows a more efficient process of receiving and shipping of packages. Some RFID tags can also be rewritten, allowing them to be used over and over reducing the costs of using these tags, however the true cost savings is in the ability to track and locate your inventory in quicker and more efficient manner. While scannable barcodes have long been the process to label packages and shipment, the time is fast approaching where barcodes will be entirely replaced by RFID chips.

The 21st Century and the Wonders of RFID

The evolution of technology has always been something rather poetic to think about, we encounter a problem so we devise a solution to said problem. After that we come up with a better solution and then we continue to improve upon that solution, because something working as it is meant to is not a signal that we should stop trying to develop or improve something. Take a look at inventory tracking and management, originally it could be a very tedious task involving stacks of paperwork and making sure you had it all in order. Now? We have Radio-Frequency Identification, (RFID).

RFID technology isn’t exactly a new technology by any definition, but it’s effectiveness and frequency of use is becoming better and bigger respectively. In fact, it was first conceptualized by the Soviet Union in 1945. It did not see common use until they were used in electronic toll pass systems to help states collect tolls from drivers. As expected, the uses for RFID today extend far beyond the collection of road and highway tolls.

RFID is useful because it has the ability to store many kinds of information, but without needing a power source to read the information. Passive RFID tags are powered by the radio waves of an RFID tag reader, which allows us to use RFID in everything from inventory tracking, shipment tracking, toelectronic locks, that only open when the correct information is scanned by the reader in the lock. RFID has uses in a large and varying array of industries and is only going to grow. In 2014 the market for RFID was just under 9 billion dollars. By the end of this decade its market is projected to double . It is a rapidly growing market and the companies that leverage this technology, will realize the increased profitability and increased control of their inventories, shipments, and security.

Listed below are just some of the uses for RFID technology:

  1. Inventory Tacking
  2. Tracking of Shipment
  3. Security Access
  4. Tolls and Payments like with credit cards.
  5. Tracking and locating personal items.
  6. Medical Devise and Treatment Tracking
  7. Sporting Event Access and Fan Behavior Analysis

Time to Re-Open

As companies start to reopen, how do we let our returning team members know they will be safe and welcome them back. Feeling safe, appreciated, and needed is important to your team. Most companies have set up social distancing standards, hand sanitation protocols and a list of safety guidelines. As business owners and managers, we need to do more!

As people return to the office and their desks a simple welcome back package of safety items will return dividends. Picture a branded package with a welcome back message from the company. A branded coffee mug for safety. Branded face masks to prevent the spread and contraction of COVID.  A safety tool with your logo on it for pushing elevator buttons, opening doors, and operating kiosks. These simple and cost-effective items will increase efficiency and help to prevent the spread of disease. Happy and safe employees can focus on their tasks at hand and as a result deliver increased productivity and profits to the bottom line.

Let them know it is great to have them back and they are SAFE!!!

Digital Face to Face Communication

Remember when you had to drive to go to meetings and calls and all of that? Guess what we don’t have to worry about that nearly as much anymore. While COVID-19 has brought a lot of things to a standstill we have the opportunity to take advantage of the digital world we live in and can just have conversations with people online! And the best part is the technology at our disposal makes these digital meetings almost as effective as an in person one!

Whether it’s for an interview, a cold call, a company meeting, or even a demo of some kind, we can do all of these different calls and appointments online. Even some doctors are doing this for certain appointments! But how do you replicate some of the things you would do in person and what other advantages might there be for an online call?

Screen sharing is a function that many of you are probably familiar with to some extent. This allows you to share with your client whatever it is you are looking at on your screen, or vice-versa. You can share anything from a PowerPoint to even a video with audio depending on the app you are using. This is one of the most common features across all the different kinds of apps used for online communication.

Another feature that has been becoming more common as of late is the ‘waiting room’ function. This function means that someone will not be able to directly dial into a meeting but rather dial into a waiting room and wait to be let in my either the host of the meeting or an administrator of the meeting. This function is a way to ensure your meeting will not randomly be interrupted by unexpected company, just like a lock on a door of a regular meeting room.

One newer and more interesting feature that is becoming more common is commonly referred to as ‘background changing’. This is a function where the user’s device detects a person’s face and then replaces the background behind them with an alternate image. This could be useful for when you want to keep a person from seeing things behind you, or simply just remove distractions that may be happening in the background that are out of your control. This technology is still being developed, for best results having a single-color sheet or screen behind you will improve results depending on the app you use.

Technology continues to be our friend in times like this, and while face to face meetings may not be a thing for now, digital technology continues to allow us to overcome some of the challenges we encounter in our world. Why climb the tall mountain when we can just drill through it?

Digital Expos

One of the challenges we are faced with because of COVID is we cannot do as much face to face as we used to. Fortunately, this has been rectified mostly by digital meetings, but what about larger gatherings? As businesses open back up again, things may be safe in smaller scales, but large gatherings of people, especially from all over the country or even the world are still going to be very limited for a while?

Expos and tradeshows are something most people in all industries are familiar with.  Most Expos and tradeshows are annual or semiannual events that give us opportunities to meet people from all over the country or world and collaborate, network with people and learn about new products and services and rediscover current products and serves we may have overlooked. How do we still get our message out to our clients and prospects until these trade shows reopen?

This is where the digital aspect comes in, create a digital presentation or your own personal tradeshow. Develop a digital version to showcase your products or services and reach out to your clients and prospects one on one. Making pitches is already a part of your process, turning them into digital pitches is a simple addition or tweak to the process. For those who are looking for new products and ideas this will allow them to stay current without leaving their offices. The digital world we live in gives us the ability to keep our clients and prospects up to date and remain connected with them. Those of us who take advantage of the technologies available to us will be all the better for it on the other side of this all.

To quote Jack Welch, “Technology will not replace people, however people who embrace technology will replace those who do not.”


Sustainable Items and their Place in your Promotional Plan

People are seeing value in sustainable products today and companies who provide them are seeing the positive reflection in their corporate images. But what is a sustainable product and how can these items fit into your promotional strategy?  A sustainable product one that’s components can be replenished over time and some ties a fast as they are used or harvested. A perfect example is bamboo which can grow up to 36 inches in 24 hours. Other examples are cotton and jute.

Having promotional products that are made of sustainable resources in your promotional arsenal will be a must in the coming years. As millennials (Gen Y) and the Gen Z become more involved in decision making in corporations, they will be looking for items that meet their needs and fill their moral and social beliefs. Environmentalism is one of these core beliefs of these two demographics. Also remember that as a target market Gen Y (millennials) and Gen Z account for approximately 147 million people in the Unites States or 48% of the U.S. population. This is a market to be respected and targeted.

When choosing a sustainable promotional product be careful and do your homework and the Gen Y and Z will do theirs. Make sure what you claim is true as you only get one chance to make a good impression. Also make sure the items are of good quality and form a region in the world that that human rights and policies will not tarnish your company. Remember the child sweat shops of the past decades in certain countries and the effect they had on the company reputation carrying their products?

Remember not every item can be sustainable and people understand and respect this fact. But adding these items to your promotional plan will reap benefits to you and your company over time.

Technology in a Post COVID World

There are moments or events in one’s life that leave a permanent impact or cause a permanent change in their life. There are even fewer moments or events that leave an impact or change on EVERYONE’s life. But COVID-19 is one of these events and one has to wonder just how things may change when all is said and done and the answer is simple: technology. Our biggest asset throughout this global trial has been our link to technology, whether it’s used to map out the impact of the outbreak, or simply keep us together through cyber space. This and other similar technologies have been one of the positives to come out of this lock down.

While it was already commonplace, well before COVID became known, digital face to face communication has become much more meaningful and used during lockdowns. It has always helped to keep friendships strong over great distances. But now this technology is being used for much more than that, businesses have been using these digital face-to-face technologies to keep their businesses operational. From launching new product lines to making virtual sales calls and setting up team conferences, businesses are up and running. Mastering these technologies to compete in the new digital age of sale and marketing as well as managing a team working remotely will be critical to success and survival as we move into the new post CCOVID 19 world.

A key thing to remember with all of this is that even if one doesn’t fully understand all the aspects that go into a more digitally run business, the resources are out there for one to learn. Online instructional videos for various tech applications were already commonplace long before the lockdown began, and more sources have continued to come out since the lockdown began. Anyone can acquire an understanding and skills to work in this ever-changing digital world. The earlier one starts this process, the bigger advantage they will get once the world begins to open up again.

Selling in the New Normal

With everything starting to open again you need to reach out to your clients and prospects. However, with not being able to meet with most clients in person how do you stay top of mind in you clients’ eye, but in a positive way?

Developing a promotional strategy is more important than ever! The correct promotional item packaged with a message will get your message across and keep you in the forefront of you client’s mind. But how and where do you start? Listed below is a simple plan to get thing started.

Step one: Determine what clients and prospects you want to target. Develop a list of who and where you plan on marketing to. Make sure you validate addressed, this scan be done by your supplier if they have access to mailing and shipping software. If they do not move on to someone who as this capability. Sending out items that get returned is a west of time and money and can cause issues of someone in a company receives your package and others do not.

Step two: Set a budget, this will help to determine the cost of the items you want to send out. Be honest on what you can afford. The cost will also help to choose the best item or items.

Step three: Determine the delivery method of the product. In todays world UPS might be the best option. With many people working from home, you will need to update their addressed as companies may not be forwarding packages coming in, to people’s home addresses. Also, will you or your supplier be the handling distribution?

Step four: Develop the message to go along with the promotional item. Is this to remind them you are still there? Is it something to help them drive revenue?  Your promotional item, the packaging and the message must stand out.

Step five: Choose a promotional item to brand and send out. You may choose one item to send to prospects and one to send to clients. You may choose multiple items to send out in a follow up campaign. You may choose to send different items for different clients.

Step six: Packaging is everything! Sending out the promotional item in a branded package is more often more important than the item you send out! The message on the promotional item is usually limited to your company name and contact information and maybe a brief message. The packaging allows you to deliver a very precise and compelling message of your benefit statement or why they should choose to do business with you over your competition.

Step seven: Set up a plan or process measure the ROI on your campaign. Remember you are spending capital and should expect a return on your investment.

Step eight: Set up a plant to follow up once the items are shipped. Getting back tracking information on shipments will allow you to determine when your items delivers to your clients and prospects. Knowing this will allow you to reach out to them after the package with you message arrives and opens up the door for you to offer to help out with any of their needs you product and service can fulfill.

Step nine: Execute your plan. Planning is great but planning without execution is pointless! Set up a timeline and a process to follow up!

COVID and Leveraging Current Suppliers

At the beginning of the COVID nightmare you were tasked with locating PPE supplies. You quickly opened your computer went to Google or Safari and started searching for what you needed. Once you located it you placed an online order input your corporate credit card and submitted your order and received an order confirmation with an estimated ship date. The only issue was the ship date was 4 to 6 weeks out and it was almost impossible to contact the supplier via phone and e-mails went unanswered for hours, days and even weeks. When you were able to get and answer you found out your items were being delayed with production issues, back ordered and later only to be held up in customs.

Leveraging your current suppliers might have been another option. You know these people, you have their e-mail addresses, office phone numbers, cell phone numbers, address for their offices and in many cases their home addresses. Going dark in communication could have been avoided. In addition, you could have cut a purchase order and avoided using your credit card, and the accounting headache.

Looking at your current suppliers and asking them if they have access to the items you needed, a referral to someone who does have the items might have and easier and safer path. These valued partners are not interested in a one-time order but a continued business relationship. Your success leads to their success! The ability to expedite delivery, understand the issues of supply, receiving a reasonable cost and honest and accurate answers is what these relationships foster.

Next time a situation arises reaching out to your current suppliers for their related products, assistance and direction might me a more fruitful endeavor.

Where Do We Go From Here?

As summer nears, and our restrictions begin to hopefully lift on being stuck inside, one may wonder how things have changed after all of this. Suffice it to say that no matter how you look at it, the world we step back out into after this will be very different than when the lock downs began. People may look sideways at someone because they coughed, but we will get over that eventually. But how should you do things differently now? Let’s take a look at some things that will have changed when we all finally step outside again.

The most noticeable change will be in jobs that have a mostly digital element to it. There is a very good chance that many jobs will now be able to done at least part time from home, thus limiting what a business may need to physically support in a building. Another aspect about work that may change again is for those who have someone at home, such as kids or a pet, who have suddenly gotten used to you being around a lot more and may wonder why things have changed again. This is especially true for pets who may become anxious upon seeing you leave after being there for so long. Consider taking some time to get them used to the idea of you being gone during the day again.

Going back to the topic of physically going back to work, things will likely be different at work as well. People will be less likely to go out for lunch, rather opting to bring their own lunch in to avoid going other places. Communal coffee pots will likely no longer be used, with everyone preferring to make their cup of coffee being seen as a safer method, the good news with this means you don’t have to worry about someone ruining a pot of coffee by making it too strong or weak.  You will likely see office spaces more spread out, putting more distance between people, but it is important to remember that while these changes will be jarring, you will likely find yourself happy to be back in the office. While working from home has its perks and many may still switch between coming in and working from home, you cannot replicate the culture and social interactions of the office in your own house, your pets and kids do not make for those kinds of substitutes.

Digital changes will likely continue to influence the work environment as well, you can easily expect many more meetings to occur via an online method rather than a face to face meeting. Even if a face to face meeting does occur, don’t be surprised if people stop trying to shake your hand, don’t worry it won’t be anything against you, it is simply just one of the many health practices we have picked up in our time in lock down.

Speaking of one’s health, another to consider is your health and safety, this isn’t something you should get scared over or anything. Much more strict health practices have been put in place and will continue to be put in place after this is over. You may even find yourself going outdoors to exercise by jogging or working out at home as opposed to going to a gym, so that expensive membership may not be needed anymore! The best thing you can for yourself is simply keep up the habits you began when the lock downs first started. This will pass, but in no way will this be the last time something like this happens, but do not let that make you afraid to go outside. There is much we have missed these last few months, and soon it will be time to go out and make up for all that lost time.