Global sales in the retail industry are projected to touch $26.7 trillion by the end of 2022, up from $23.6 trillion in 2018. As the competition in this expanding industry continues to grow, retail companies are looking towards technology to improve their business efficiency and exceed customer expectations.

Talking of the online retail space, customers are now demanding facilities like same-day delivery and a personalized shopping experience. This requires retailers to adopt an “automation-first” approach that can free retail employees to focus on higher-value activities while automation takes care of manual and repetitive tasks.

This drives the adoption of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in the retail industry. Apart from speeding up product development, RPA offers a range of benefits and use cases that can digitally transform the retail space.

How can RPA make a significant difference? Let us start with its benefits.

Benefits of RPA in the Retail Sector

How does RPA-enabled automation benefit the retail industry and take it to the next level? Let us look at a few benefits of RPA in retail:

1. Customer Experience (CX)

Most retail companies today realize the importance of CX in winning and retaining retail consumers. Among the common pain points in online shopping, consumers pointed out “high waiting time” as a major factor they dislike in their experience.

On its part, RPA can effectively elevate CX by automating processes like product returns. A survey conducted by Windstream Enterprise found that 68% of online shoppers preferred retail companies with an automated returns process.

Using automation, a streamlined returns process provides immediate return requests, timely notifications, and refunds.

Further, RPA can elevate CX with options like an improved checkout process, better order tracking, and smarter promotions.

2. Operational efficiency

The easy (and voluminous) availability of business data puts more pressure on retail companies to deliver better services, work more efficiently, and reduce operational costs. Effectively, operational efficiency can stem from using more data and technology in a smarter mode. Retailers can replace manual labour with “software robots” that automate repetitive tasks and process requests faster than the manual mode.

For example, with UIPath RPA, a Middle East-based retail company achieved 98.75% saving in time spent processing thousands of records. Additionally, using RPA in the retail industry can reduce “human” errors in business operations and increase operational efficiency using data management.

3. Automated tasks

McKinsey reports that nearly half of today’s jobs will be replaced with automation over the next decade. As more retail companies leverage the benefits of automation, this will lead to the replacement of manual (or repetitive) tasks with technologies like RPA. Effectively, this means software “robots” will automate manual tasks, while “human” employees will now shift to higher-value work and complex job functions.

RPA-enabled automated tasks will focus more on the customer experience and journey and create Centers of Excellence (COE) in the retail space.

4. Competitive advantage

The 2021 Deloitte Retail survey found that the average holiday spending increased to $1,463, a 5% increase over the previous year. Retail companies expect 73% of shoppers to spend more during holidays. To tap into the growing retail “pie,” retailers must look to build a culture of shopping convenience and customer service.

To gain (or retain) a competitive advantage, retail companies are looking at new ways to build faster internal processes. RPA technology can help them speed up their operations and benefit their customers. This includes automating retail-related operations like customer invoicing, product deliveries, and warehouse management.

Next, let us explore a few use cases where RPA can be successfully deployed in the Retail industry.

RPA Use Cases in the Retail Industry

RPA technology can be used in various applications and operations across the retail industry. According to UIPath RPA, some common use cases of RPA are in new product launches, in-store planning, and sales analytics.

Let us look at a few of the numerous use cases of RPA in retail:

1. Sales Analytics

RPA technology can simplify the automation of retail sales analytics by providing data-centric and real-time sales reports about customer preferences and user behaviour. By using large volumes of sales data, RPA and automated analytics provide access to real-time insights that can help maximize sales opportunities.

Further, using RPA in retail can help facilitate predictive analytics, enabling accurate stock optimization.

2. Supply and demand planning

Traditional “manual” processes meant that retail companies’ demand and supply planning was executed using intelligent “gut feel” or based on historical patterns. With RPA technology in the fray, retail companies can automate data collation to make supply-demand planning timelier. This can drive data-backed decisions regarding managing assets, suppliers, capacity, and customer support.

Further, accurate sales forecasting driven by RPA enables retailers to control their supplies and demands more efficiently and fulfil purchase orders.

3. In-store planning

Based on customer preferences and needs, in-store planning is relevant in today’s retail industry. In-store planning is aimed at helping customers find their required products easily and without any hassle. Store planning can have a direct impact on store sales and revenues.

RPA tools can help retailers optimize in-store workflows based on consumer demography and behaviour. Further, RPA can also be effective in determining the location of the brand store that will impact the shopper’s travel time and accessibility.

4. Inventory management

Besides store planning, RPA-driven inventory management is another helpful business case for retail brands. Supported by AI and machine learning, RPA “robots” can help avoid problems with a shortage of inventory stocks. Inventory management with RPA can be used in various retail applications and processes, including avoiding stockouts, managing dead stocks, reducing lead times, and improving supply chain visibility.

Conclusion

In modern retail, brands feel the “need for speed” in delivering exceptional CX and accelerating their business processes not to lose their customer base to competitors. Retail technologies like RPA enable them to speed up their operations by automating most of the manual or repetitive processes.

With its technical expertise in UiPath RPA technology, Emergys has enabled its retail customers to build a strong presence in a competitive landscape. We also enabled business enterprises to leverage the capabilities of Big Data, AI, and Data analytics.

Are you looking to transform your retail business using RPA? It’s time to contact us!

Emergys Blog

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