RPA Helps Grow Online Retail
Retailers are rapidly embracing robotic process automation (RPA) as they seek to improve customer experience, supply chains, marketing and business operations to meet changing market conditions.
While successive closures and social distancing restrictions have accelerated the growth of online retailing, the effect on retailer operations is not temporary. It was expected that by 2023, online sales would represent a quarter of the entire retail industry. The global pandemic put that figure forward, and in May 2021, the UK ONS reported 28.4% of retail sales were online.
Consumers today are more and more demanding, this is the difficulty that retailers experienced after Brexit and during the pandemic. Not only do consumers expect a faster, error-free digital shopping experience, they also want impeccable customer service. In addition, more and more consumers are reluctant to buy from unethical companies; they want to know that retailers are reducing their impact on the environment and that their data is safe. So how does RPA help the retail industry?
The purchase of goods by a consumer is the final step in a complete supply chain. Each link in the chain increases the cost of goods sold. Therefore, anything that reduces costs or improves deliverable service optimizes retailer profit margins and improves the consumer experience.
RPA is used in retail to support teams in various parts of the operation, inventory management, human resources, supply chain, order fulfillment and returns, planning of stores, contract management and delivery logistics. By automating parts of these processes, efficiencies are created throughout the supply chain, meaning staff have more time to focus on improving customer service and on more issues. strategic like the environment.
Retailers are also moving with smart automation in support areas and seeing significant improvements in hiring, payroll, training, health and safety and operations in the new post-pandemic world. Financial services improve compliance, business performance reporting, cash flow management and receivables. There is no doubt that retailers like Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Sephora, Aldi, Pets at Home and many more are taking advantage by automating repetitive tasks.
At Tesco, CEO of Business Services, Dr Sumit Mitra said he has automated more than 260 processes via RPA in the past two years. This translated into an efficiency of 425,000 person-hours, which equates to an almost 25% improvement in efficiency throughout the company and an improvement of over £ 200million. of their results. They use RPA and AI capabilities to drive business management, and that’s across the enterprise, where they’ve trained staff to become citizen developers – people who spot opportunities to use RPA to make improvements in the business.
So let’s take a closer look at how RPA can help in specific areas.
Supply Chain Management Logistics and supply chain management are at the heart of retail operations. Several processes are involved, such as inventory level monitoring, customer support, shipping, order status tracking, and reverse shipping. By deploying RPA to automate logistics and supply chain processes, positive business results are better collaboration between suppliers, customers and distributors. It also has the advantage of reducing waste which, from an environmental point of view, is now critical.
Traditional inventory management systems couldn’t provide real-time information on inventory levels, but RPA can. By automating inventory processes, retailers can immediately see when stock levels are low, thereby avoiding “out of stock” situations and allowing them to have better relationships with suppliers and customers. Using intelligent automation and data analytics also allows retailers to automatically see where demand is and support changes as they occur. It also allows them to predict future demand, which will allow better inventory management.
Processing Orders and Returns The validation and transfer of documents is an extravagant use of company resources. The necessary information can be transmitted to the relevant personnel or departments at lightning speed thanks to RPA. Software robots validate documents of different types and formats faster and more accurately, freeing staff to focus on handling exceptions. A combination of people and technology improves speed, mitigates downstream data risk, and protects intellectual property better than ever.
Processing invoices is often a time consuming and repetitive task. Automating these tasks with RPA, such as collecting information, separating data, and processing invoices, becomes much faster and without human error.
Business and Sales Analysis Data is vital to many retail decisions, such as business promotions, churn rate, and product launches. RPA can provide real-time reports based on customer preferences and user behavior regarding a product or product features, which can then be used to plan and then evaluate the effectiveness of marketing campaigns in real time. This ability to get real-time data insight means the retailer can respond to customer demand faster, resulting in
in improving sales.
Store Planning A huge amount of effort and data analysis on customer preferences and habits goes into store planning. With RPA, retail stores can design their stores to encourage sales, meet customer expectations, and improve their shopping experience. All of this has a positive impact on sales.
Contract Management Many processes in the contract management process can be automated using RPA, such as creating a new contract request, capturing contact data, creating documents, creating the contract and negotiation. RPA can be used to track the contract throughout its lifecycle as it is reviewed and approved. Relevant documentation is generated automatically and digital signatures are requested to make the process more efficient. RPA also improves visibility into contract status and helps track and report on contract progress, improving compliance.
Customer support and call centers Chatbots and conversational AI are transforming the function of customer service. With the help of the latest conversational AI, chatbots are now able to handle complex conversations with customers, answer their questions about order and payment tracking, and provide updates on product launches. , discounts, price changes, etc. All of this can be done 24/7 without human interaction, improving customer service and responding to the “always on” culture that consumers now expect.
There are so many processes that can be automated in retail. Of the 260 automated at Tesco, there is no doubt that more can be automated and improved as they work in their business, and as RPA and AI become more sophisticated.
When processes are automated, staff can focus on adding value in more complex and strategic roles. Positive business results for retailers include: • First delivery at the right time • Improved customer experience • Improved inventory management • Improved application integration • Mitigation of risk and compliance issues • Reduced operational costs
The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the need for retail to embrace automation, as customer demands outweigh the ability of current infrastructure and workforce to support them. According to PwC, 7 in 10 CEOs plan to drive growth through cost cuts. Now is the time for all retailers, big or small, to quickly embrace automation to maximize customer satisfaction and compete with the competition.
Retailers using intelligent automation and RPA are seeing significant improvements across their operations. The only issue preventing more retailers from reaping the huge gains from RPA and smart automation is staffing. There is a massive skills shortage in the field of automation, but working with a consulting firm and using their expertise to advance digitization is a good way to reap the benefits of RPA.
Alastair Roriston, UK Sales Director Alastair is responsible for the strategic direction of the sales and business development departments. It will contribute to the overall growth strategy, helping the company to become more successful in the global intelligent automation market. Alastair has extensive experience in the intelligent automation industry, having previously held sales leadership roles at UiPath and Rainbird Technologies.
This was posted in the Member News section of Bdaily by FutureWorkForce.