RPA In Retail

Speed and reliability are the driving factors for any business. For a loyal customer base and regular flow of orders, the processing needs to be quick and efficient.  With nearly three million people employed in the retail sector globally, the sector plays a very vital role in shaping the economy. The retail industry provides consumers with a medium to have access to a wide variety of products and services. However, in the modern day, the retail industry is struggling with challenges such as complexities in customer choices, technological advancements, and rise in e-commerce sites.

Robotic Process Automation is fast becoming a reliable and revolutionary technology that disrupts the modern market with regards to service delivery.  When combined with modern technologies such as Machine Learning, the technology can to a very great extent mimic a human in terms of perception and reasoning.  

For a retail company, RPA can be incorporated into various processes such as:

  1. Processing of orders
  2. Payments
  3. Material Procurement
  4. Inventory Management Programme: Monitoring the inventory and regular status notifications
  5. Regular communication between the manufacturer, supplier, logistics, and customer.
  6. Obtain information and identify business patterns to reveal any potential supply chain disruptions.

Benefits of RPA in Retail

  1. Improved Productivity: Robotic automation technologies are much faster. This enables a greater amount of work being done through automation in comparison to similar work being done by a human equivalent.  There is a benefit that the system could be made to function 24/7.
  2. Accuracy: Automation eliminates the need for human intervention. With the benefit of processing a greater amount of work within a short amount of time in a very accurate fashion, it reduces any possibility of human error.
  3. Flexibility:  The ability to replicate the automation algorithm across geographical and business boundaries provides an element of flexibility. This helps achieve high amounts of operational and technical efficiency.
  4. Concurrence: It allows for the various business process and data to be retained. This includes processes such as inventory management, analytics report, marketing, and balance sheets.

 Top Use cases of RPA in Retail

The integration of automation with retail and consumer products creates a number of opportunities where it could be incorporated.

The four main areas where RPA technology could be implemented are –

  1. Trade Promotions: For a firm, the collection of strategies used to increase the level of demand for their products at a retail level is one of its most major expenses. It ranges between 15 to 20 percent of the annual revenue of the company. Trade promotions require effective real-time calculation of multiple parameters. With firms spending a significant investment in manual efforts for data collection and analysis, these efforts can be efficiently automated by RPA.
  2. Sales Analytics: Business firms frequently have a vast amount of mind crunching data to analyze.  With multiple variables to consider, this involves a good number of man hours to execute. With RPA, the sales data can be collected, analyzed, consolidated and reported much faster, possibly even over a weekend. In addition to providing real-time analysis, the accuracy of the RPA technology can provide a much better output when it comes to sales analytics.
  3. Product Introduction: Introduction of a new product forms a major part of any business entity. The introduction of a new product comes with significant investment and collaboration between the various departments of the firm. It also involves treading with scientific precision of the relevant scope and consideration of various parameters. This is followed by decision making based on the analysis of the various parameters. RPA seeks to optimize the decision making by automating the process to shape the roll out process.
  4. Store Specific Planning: Retailers shape their business goals toward steering the customer towards what they expect. This involves following a segmentation process that relies on clustering of similar products either geographically (multiple stores within an area) or locally (within a single store). RPA optimizes this process by tapping into existing databases and develop a detailed fact-based analysis of merchandise preferences.

While a significant number of customers still prefer purchasing articles from a physical store, the impact of e-commerce sites is significant and the odds are in their favor.  It has been estimated that in the modern day, e-commerce sites account for nearly 10% of the retail sale.

In this challenging environment, an improvement in productivity can make a major difference when it comes to the future of the retail industry. This could, however, come with major trade offs. There needs to be a smart balance between short terms gains and long-term goals in customer experience, retention, and loyalty.Confronted with the need for a constant improvement and innovation in the way the retail business is run, it is imperative to completely dissect the entire functioning of the business down to the tiniest details. Considering the scenario, RPA is an effective step forward to automate the various processes.

Thus, this was an overview of the role of  RPA in retail. With changing times and trends, everything is undergoing change, retail and business are no exception!