The digital age has instigated change in every sector – but perhaps none more so than retail.
The high street, as we once knew it, is dying out. More than half of all people in the UK now do most of their shopping online, and this change in consumer behaviour has forced retailers to shift the focus away from physical shops to digital equivalents. Retailers can no longer solely rely on classy storefronts to tempt customers in through their doors.
But retail success isn’t just about a fast, attractive, user-friendly website. It’s also about maintaining excellent customer service levels, shaping more efficient stock strategies in an increasingly challenging economic environment, and finding cost-effective ways in which to order, ship and deliver items to buyers.
That’s why the big vendors are already utilising Robotic Process Automation (RPA). Having the power to automate processes gives retailers the opportunity to save costs and take back control. In this blog, we explore retail RPA in more detail.
Why is retail embracing RPA?
One of the biggest challenges in retail today is maintaining (or raising) customer satisfaction levels. This is a climate where there’s not only increased competition – but also where people are visiting stores more infrequently. Customer service can make or break a business in this industry.
Many consumers prefer to correspond with a human rather than a robot when they have a question or complaint. But that’s not where robots are proving so valuable (yet). Instead, RPA frees up retailers to give customers more one-on-one time by automating orders, marketing, stock and account processes.
What’s more, robots achieve all of the above at a faster rate with higher accuracy. When it comes to retail categorisation, robots can achieve a rate of 98% accuracy – removing human error and enabling the business to address customers in the personal way they desire.
RPA can also generate automatic responses for customers with general enquiries, whilst handling elements such as returns – consulting the inventory at hand and determining whether the unwanted item can be replaced (and when).
What’s more, robots can use every tiny piece of data submitted by a customer to establish market trends; giving businesses the best possible insight to build a strategy that works and make better decisions.
How does retail RPA work?
Many retailers are already reaping the benefits of RPA. Here are some of the ways in which RPA is already functioning for retailers across the world.
Demand, supply and logistics
Time-consuming tasks related to gathering and analysing data can all be completed by RPA. This makes supply & demand simpler, easier and more affordable.
Automation is also being used to maintain inventory levels and notify the relevant personnel when fresh stock is required. In some instances, the robots are even making these orders themselves.
Aside from improving matters surrounding physical stock, RPA is also giving retailers improved results in their HR departments.
This technology is capable of generating, amending and submitting documents and reports, which offer companies a clear overview of their situation. HR processes related to attendance, absences, holidays or shifts can also be automated.
Customer support management
Retailers can now provide round-the-clock customer support without the high staffing costs.
Robots are processing and tracking deliveries, sending real-time updates to consumers, gathering data on a constant basis and managing returns. RPA is even tweaking customer bills accordingly – submitting refunds and altering relevant prices.
Accounting and finance
There’s a lot of accounting involved in retail – and RPA can help with much of it. Not only does it reduce the number of laborious tasks but also human error.
Automating finance processes removes huge pressure from accounting teams – tracking transactions, updating documents and submitting all the necessary data to the relevant parties – be it consumers, creditors, debtors or the taxman.
What can we expect from retail RPA in the future?
Retail RPA isn’t a trend. It’s the future of the sector. Within years, almost every retail company will have implemented some form of automated technology. And robots are only going to get smarter.
The future of retail RPA – and automation in general – is combining this technology with other progressive forms of tech such as Artificial Intelligence (AI). This is where robots will soon begin to handle customer enquiries as well as human beings – as they’ll have the intelligence and range to answer questions in a sophisticated, helpful way.
But for starters, we’ll see combined RPA bringing together different tasks and controlling a number of different systems within a business. In the event of change, new RPA solutions will have the capacity to react accordingly to different scenarios and change their respective responses – without the need for a person to programme them manually.
Combined RPA will improve efficiency further. Soon, retailers will find themselves in an exciting new era: a world where the laborious, time-consuming, expensive tasks behind the scenes are entirely controlled by robots.
Robiquity: Specialists in retail RPA solutions
We specialise in pure RPA solutions for almost every industry – but our retail clients, in particular, have enjoyed some fantastic results.
Through the implementation of our ScaleSafe solution, a major retailer overseas has transformed its operations. The company delivered robots in double-figures in months – with every single bot having its own business case and metric that is quantified and measured. With controls in place to monitor post implementation results, (including hours/costs saved, data quality, accuracy, and more), business efficiency has skyrocketed.
If you’re a retailer looking to embrace RPA, or scale your current solution in a fast, effective way, Robiquity are the team you need. We deliver teams, results, bots and, most importantly of all, results.