For years, tedious and monotonous manual tasks were the traditional way of doing things. Record entries in a multinational corporation would take several human hours. Salary dispersal for employees in several organizations would never be on time. Furthermore, due to the tedious nature of these tasks, errors would be galore. How did humans overcome these challenges, then? The answer – technology. Humankind joined hands with technology to bring forth intelligent automation to daily life and official activities, defeating the challenges that were long pulling their efficiency and productivity down.
Timely product availability in the market and managing the minimal workforce in a human-dependent industry have been put to the test during the recent pandemic. Retailers need to effectively manage erratic market demand, as manual orders and invoice processes are time-consuming. Furthermore, the need to achieve optimal customer satisfaction across different regions is more pressing than ever as it can help retain old customers and acquire new ones. Retailers must also analyze and adapt to upcoming market trends for sustained growth.
Recognizing its benefits beyond cost reduction and increased productivity, enterprises are harnessing Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) to take on various mundane and repetitive administrative tasks to perform complex analyses with speed, accuracy, and consistency.
This article will showcase exciting insights about intelligent automation and use cases that are the best examples of intelligent automation in the retail industry.
Introduction of Intelligent Automation into Retail
Intelligent automation started influencing industries a little more than a decade ago, paving the way for broader technology implementation. While intelligent automation’s technological prowess was only used to automate redundant tasks initially, its reach and impact transformed over the years. In the present day, Intelligent Process Automation can make repetitive tasks outdated and redefine the shopping experience for customers of the retail industry.
A report* in 2019 suggested that, by 2022, about 80% of retail companies would be leveraging IPA to automate their processes. Automation will help retail customers have a seamless and error-less experience and improve the efficiency of the daily tasks. Furthermore, the inclusion of IPA in this industry will broaden value chains, reduce organizational layers, and create data-driven solutions.
Let’s look at a few use cases that can better establish IPA’s impact in the retail sector.
Intelligent Automation Use Cases in Retail
While Intelligent Automation can be applied to a flurry of operations in the retail sector, some common instances are recorded in this section. This section delves deeper into the application of IPA in the industry and how it influences potential growth.
Have you ever wondered how stores decide which pieces and how many of them they should store to appease customers’ demands and preferences? Human intervention does play a role in this, wherein store managers analyze the sales pattern and data to decide what the inventory should hold. However, a significant fraction of the analyzable data is not within the purview of human intelligence. This is where automation takes the cake. The correct amount of inventory is crucial to determine the customer demands, inventory cost, warehouse space, and ordering timelines. Intelligent automation solutions coupled with RPA and analytics can analyze the sales forecast, actual sales for previous years, and deviations in demand due to seasonal reasons. Smart-tech can help stores manage inventory in a way that fits customers’ expectations, buying patterns, and expenditure. The solution can predict and recommend the right amount of quantity for each SKU. This approach helps retailers keep the inventory in check while streamlining their operations and meeting customer demands.
Bank Reconciliation Process
Finance operations, a critical cog in the machinery of any industry, are often laden with innumerable challenges due to the nature of the function. The bank reconciliation process, especially in the retail sector, is a time-sensitive and expensive manual function. At the close of business hours each day, it is imperative to check for any credit or debit and the charge against the POS transactions happening at each store. Integration of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) with the traditional reconciliation process helps automate the end-to-end process with little to no human intervention.
The sales analytics vertical is often associated with large volumes of data, and rightly so. Due to the hefty amount of data available for analysis and action every day, the process demands swift and intensive efforts by employees. Intelligent Automation provides full audits with real-time insights helping retailers and suppliers implement more effective analysis to maximize sales opportunities.
How can automation assist the retail industry?
The retail industry is one of the largest and most complex sectors globally, with additional costs at every stage of the processes’ lifecycle. In this event, automation assists business-owners in this sector to streamline the operations while saving cost, time, and human power. The above-mentioned use cases are only a few straws in the haystack. Smart automation technologies can be used for several purposes in this sector, including but not limited to product categorization, supply chain management, staff onboarding, ERP management, logistics, business and sales analytics, and marketing planning.
Intelligent automation allows businesses to eliminate manual, laborious, and repetitive tasks, not just in retail but also in many other industries. As automation technologies get more innovative and advanced, the opportunity and potential to implement them will grow too. Tasks that seem impossible to automate now might become less dependent on manual intervention in the future, saving costs across various industries and sub-sectors. Proven Consult is enabling the integration of IPA into several daily activities, bringing forth a seamless technological experience for clients and customers.
*Page 2, The coming AI Revolution in retail and consumer products, a report by IBM