Robotic Process Automation in Retail

April 23, 2020 | Slavko Kastelic

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in Retail can solve broken processes inside different challenges in the industry vertical. Digital transformation and automation is happening now and it will take over the world in years to come. More and more enterprises recognised the importance of intelligent automation as a way to be more competitive on the market. KPMG forecasts investment in automation will reach $231.9 B in 2025 and this growth will be mainly in RPA.

RPA is a software that increases productivity and reduces errors. RPA automates repetitive tasks that were handled by humans. With faster and smoother processes it also increases customer satisfaction. RPA works with existing business systems so enterprises don’t have to invest in new IT infrastructure. And it is available 24h/7 days in a week.

The role of RPA is taking on tasks that humans traditionally don’t want to do. It allows humans to focus more on value-add tasks and become more productive.

RPA list of tasks is very long and I am listing just a few most common examples here:

  • Opening e-mails and attachments
  • Reading and writing from databases
  • API calls
  • Reading and writing to Excel
  • Implementation of processes with IF-THEN-ELSE conditional
  • Data transfer between applications and systems

Retail Challenges 

The need to accelerate digital transformation didn’t avoid the retail industry either. Retail is looking for technology to ensure their business is relevant and their product is appealing enough. Therefore, RPA in Retail can automate processes from logistics, supply chain , accounting and finance through to managing marketing campaigns. McKinsey estimates that it is possible to automate over 70% of the work in the retail sector. That gives a ton of opportunities for retailers to improve their businesses, giving them a competitive advantage on the market.

Robotic Process Automation for Retail Use Cases

Most popular use-cases are:

  • Sales Analytics
    If you need to streamline a large amount of dat from multiple data sources in sales and you should consider RPA as a perfect solution. You can collect data about your customers faster and more effectively with RPA. Automated analytics provides easy access to reports, providing real-time insights of customers behavior helping retailers and suppliers to carry out more effective analysis to maximize sales opportunities. All of this can be done over the weekend so decision-makers have detailed reports ready and waiting on Monday mornings.
  • Logistics and Supply Chain Management
    Supply chain managers like RPA for Retail, because these processes are highly dependant on back office. Automation of e-mails would lead to better communication between suppliers, distributors and customers. You can automate an e-mail or text when you receive an order or shipment. RPA helps in maintaining inventory levels to ensure retailers have enough products or services to meet demand. Notification can be generated every time product is reaching low level. RPA also help determine optimum orders level which leads to procurement improving and reducing costs.
  • Customer support management
    Providing 24/7 customer support, especially in e-commerce has become very important for every retail enterprise. With RPA, enterprises can make their customer support more efficient, faster and convenient. RPA is tracking orders and every time a new one pop up, it will inform real-time update to customer or suppliers . RPA is also enhance customer experience by synchronising data across multiple systems including CRM.
  • Forecasting
    RPA helps sales professionals in predicting future sales accurately by automating tasks related to data gathering, manipulation, presentation and analysis, whether it is a store, marketing or demand-supply planning.

Conclusion

RPA is not in the early stage of deployment in the retail industry anymore. It is time for retailers to welcome the (software) robots. Early adopters already recognize benefits of RPA, because it offers the opportunity to automate processes today.  The use of RPA in retail will focus the workforce by shifting their focus to more knowledgeable work and become more productive.

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