Charles Dunstone once said: “The future of retail is the integration of internet and digital services with the retail network.”
The retail industry is growing and expanding globally at a rapid rate today. With increasing demand comes increased supply; and as a result, our online world is now brimming with retail websites for consumers across the world. One of the major aims of today’s retail industry is to attain global reach and satisfy the growing needs and demands of modern consumers. And like every other constantly expanding sector, the burden of monotonous and rule-based tasks also needs to be taken off the able shoulders of the retail industry. Enter, RPA.
You can check out our earlier blogs on the role of RPA in the related domains of supply chain and manufacturing. So, right now, we’re back with a blog; and today, let’s look at some of the processes that the retail sector can automate:
1. TOO MANY ‘RETURNS’ OF THE DAY?
All of us, at some point or the other, have been dissatisfied with the product purchased and returned it to the retail store with the demand for a refund. But have you wondered what processes take place on the other side? The lengthy process of processing returns can not only be extremely hectic, but also typically incur costs to the company. No, that doesn’t mean we stop returning products to the retail stores. It just means it’s time to bring in RPA! RPA not only registers all the returns effectively, but also enters the changes in the inventory database without any errors and in record time.
2. ENTERPRISE RESOURCE PLANNING HAS NEVER BEEN EASIER!
Without a doubt, ERP is one of the most important aspects of the retail sector. Consisting of a number of tasks ranging from billing and keeping track of price fluctuations to developing and organizing account payables and other reports, the employees working in this department have their plates full. So why not assign some of these processes to our champ bots? RPA can automate all of these monotonous processes, in order to pave way for increased efficiency and employee resource utilization.
3. WHICH PRODUCT GOES WHERE? REARRANGING THE ONLINE SHELVES…
Yes, you read right – ‘online shelves.’ When one opens an online retail website, it’s usually a list of broad categories we look for before we take our pick from a variety of related products. While this categorization makes life easier for consumers, it can be a tedious and time-consuming task at the backend. And installing a software bot ensures that this task is performed efficiently and quickly, relieving employees of monotonous manual work!
4. “YOUR CUSTOMERS ARE MY PRIMARY CONCERN,” SAYS YOUR PROCESS BOT
The customer is not only the ultimate goal of the entire retail process, but also a means of continuing successful business. And so, it follows that customer care is an extremely integral aspect of any such sector. While customer care requires a sensitive approach and cannot be totally governed by software bots, one can automate a number of rule-based processes even within this area – including enabling real-time product tracking, customized replies on online retail portals, and installing chatbots for answering basic customer queries.
5. IS THERE ANY DEMAND FOR THE PRODUCT I SUPPLY?
Demand is to supply as fuel to a car – one cannot function without the other. And so, it is extremely important that the demand and supply dynamics be carefully studied and analyzed in order to understand consumer preferences and then decide on the supply to be produced accordingly. However, this process also involves a number of tedious and time-consuming tasks, including gathering and organizing information, considering exceptions and carrying out simulations. All of these tasks can bog down an employee and impede growth. With RPA, all of these tasks can be automated in order to pave way to increased productivity and prevent stagnation.
A recent report by UiPath revealed the rising significance of RPA in the retail world. As per the report, automation is extremely beneficial to retailers at three different levels –
a) Back-office tasks, including bill-checking, payments and invoices;
b) Front-office tasks in areas including HR and legal, as well as chat-bot and other customer-care facilities; and
c) Shop-floor tasks such as trade promotions and optimization of the workforce.
While a number of veteran retailers are still skeptical about the constantly fluctuating nature of the digital revolution, it is important to embrace the world of RPA alongside the human workforce in order to ensure significant leaps in retail in terms of cost reduction, increased productivity and speeding up of processes.