How RPA Can Launch Digital Transformation for Retail Brands
Global sales in the retail industry are projected to touch $26.7 trillion by the end of 2022, up from $23.6 trillion in 2018. As the competition in this expanding industry continues to grow, retail companies are looking towards technology to improve their business efficiency and exceed their customer expectations.
Talking of the online retail space, customers are now demanding facilities like same-day delivery and a personalized shopping experience. This requires retailers to adopt an “automation-first” approach that can free retail employees to focus on higher-value activities while automation takes care of manual and repetitive tasks.
This is driving the adoption of Robotic Process Automation (or RPA) in the retail industry. Apart from speeding up product development, RPA offers a range of benefits and use cases that can digitally transform the retail space.
How can RPA make a significant difference? Let us start with its benefits.
Benefits of RPA in the Retail sector
How does RPA-enabled automation benefit the retail industry and take it to the next level? Let us look at a few benefits of RPA in retail:
1.Customer Experience (CX)
Most retail companies today realize the importance of CX in winning and retaining retail consumers. Among the common pain points in online shopping, consumers pointed out “high waiting time” as a major factor they dislike in their experience.
On its part, RPA can effectively elevate CX by automating processes like product returns. A survey conducted by Windstream Enterprise found that 68% of online shoppers preferred retail companies with an automated returns process. Using automation, a streamlined returns process provides immediate return requests, timely notifications, and refunds.
Further, RPA can elevate CX with options like an improved checkout process, better order tracking, and smarter promotions.
The easy (and voluminous) availability of business data is putting more pressure on retail companies to deliver better services, work more efficiently, and reduce their operational costs. Effectively, operational efficiency can stem from the use of more data and technology in a smarter mode. On their part, retailers can replace manual labor with “software robots” that can automate repetitive tasks and process requests faster than the manual mode.
For example, with UIPath RPA, a Middle East-based retail company achieved 98.75% saving in time spent in processing thousands of records. Additionally, the use of RPA in the retail industry can reduce “human” errors in business operations and increase operational efficiency using data management.
McKinsey reports that nearly half of today’s jobs will be replaced with automation over the next decade. As more retail companies leverage the benefits of automation, this will lead to the replacement of manual (or repetitive) tasks with technologies like RPA. Effectively, this means software “robots” will automate manual tasks, while “human” employees will now shift to higher-value work and complex job functions.
RPA-enabled automated tasks will lead to more focus on the customer experience and journey, along with the creation of Centers of Excellence (COE) in the retail space.
The 2021 Deloitte Retail survey found that the average holiday spending increased to $1,463, which is a 5% increase over the previous year. Retail companies also expect 73% of shoppers to spend more during holiday seasons. To tap into the growing retail “pie,” retailers must look to build a culture of shopping convenience and customer service.
To gain (or retain) a competitive advantage, retail companies are looking at new ways to build faster internal processes. RPA technology can successfully help them speed up their operations and benefit their customers. This includes automating retail-related operations like customer invoicing, product deliveries, and warehouse management.
Next, let us explore a few use cases where RPA can be successfully deployed in the Retail industry.
RPA Use Cases in the Retail industry
RPA technology can be used in a variety of applications and operations across the retail industry. According to UIPath RPA, some of the common use cases of RPA are in the areas of new product launches, in-store planning, and sales analytics.
Let us look at a few of the numerous use cases of RPA in retail:
1. Sales Analytics
RPA technology can simplify the automation of retail sales analytics by providing data-centric and real-time sales reports about customer preferences and user behavior. By using large volumes of sales data, RPA and automated analytics provide access to real-time insights that can help in maximizing sales opportunities.
Further, the use of RPA in retail can help in facilitating predictive analytics, that enable accurate stock optimization.
2.Supply and demand planning
Traditional “manual” processes meant that most demand and supply planning in retail companies were executed using intelligent “gut feel” or based on historical patterns. With RPA technology in the fray, retail companies can now automate data collation to make supply-demand planning timelier. This can drive data-backed decisions regarding managing assets, suppliers, capacity, and customer support.
Further, accurate sales forecasting driven by RPA enables retailers to exercise more control over their supplies and demands and fulfill purchase orders efficiently.
3. In-store planning
Based on customer preferences and needs, in-store planning is relevant in today’s retail industry. In-store planning is aimed at helping customers find their required products easily and without any hassle. Store planning can have a direct impact on store sales and revenues.
RPA tools can help retailers optimize their in-store workflows based on consumer demography and behavior. Further, RPA can also be effective in determining the location of the brand store that will impact the shopper’s travel time and accessibility.
4. Inventory management
Besides store planning, RPA-driven inventory management is another useful business case for retail brands. Supported by AI and machine learning, RPA “robots” can help in avoiding problems with a shortage of inventory stocks. Inventory management with RPA can be used in a wide variety of retail applications and processes including avoiding stock outs, managing dead stocks, reducing lead times, and improving supply chain visibility.
In the modern retail space, brands feel the “need for speed” in delivering exceptional CX and accelerating their business processes, so as not to lose their customer base to competitors. Retail technologies like RPA enable them to speed up their operations by automating most of the manual or repetitive processes.
With its technical expertise in UiPath RPA technology, Ellicium Solutions has enabled its retail customers to build a strong presence in a competitive landscape. We also enabled business enterprises to leverage the capabilities of Big Data, AI, and Data analytics.
Looking to transform your retail business using RPA? It’s time to contact us!