Retail’s Future Lies in Robotic Process Automation

The retail sector is going through a monumental transformation. The deepening high street crisis is placing huge pressure to keep customers coming through the doors – while increasing back-office efficiencies to cut costs.

Automation in the Workplace

RPA is growing fast: Gartner Inc. predicts that by the end of 2022, 85% of large and very large organizations will have adopted some form of RPA. That’s because RPA offers not just productivity benefits, but also a reduction in error rates and huge processing capability. It can also increase job satisfaction, employee wellbeing, and employee engagement, boosting worker happiness by freeing up human workers to do more creative work.

RPA offers retailers the opportunity to automate processes and data management today, while simultaneously positioning them for the future.

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The Opportunities of RPA for Retail

RPA is of particular relevance in retail, given the level of Automation on which the industry depends, and the vast data management required. Software robots can automate essential, standard, high-volume, repeatable, rule-based processes, from supply chain right through to post-purchase.

In the supply chain, software robots can analyze and take actions based on data patterns – for example, triggering alerts or processes.

Back-office tasks ripe for RPA include financial processes – invoice processing, bill checking, and payments – and HR process-related functions, including onboarding and offboarding employees; a time-consuming process, especially in a sector that relies heavily on seasonal employees.

In the front office, RPA is ideal in call centers, chatbot operation and data-driven behavioral analysis – as well as workforce management, trade promotions, and store planning.

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RPA and Customer Satisfaction

UK retailers currently lose £102 billion each year due to poor customer satisfaction – but AI and other new technologies could help improve the consumer experience, increasing repeat business and minimizing abandoned orders. RPA can also ensure customer complaints are addressed quickly and effectively.

RPA can address processing returns and exchanges, too. Handled badly, the returns process can alienate customers forever, so it’s vital to get right. Here, RPA can create sales orders for replacement items and process refunds – also taking care of financial accounting and inventory management.

RPA Is the Future of Retail

In summary, RPA offers retailers the opportunity to automate processes and data management today, while simultaneously positioning them for the future. Those retailers still uncertain of the opportunities that RPA can bring will be assured by the fact that RPA can provide more opportunities than threats for retail workforces.

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