Robotic Process Automation in the Retail Industry
Shifting market dynamics are changing retail forever –
RPA bots can help retailers keep up with demand.
“From supply chain management to sales analytics, a retail chain includes numerous processes that were being performed manually until a few years ago. With the introduction of innovative technologies like RFID, POS and the most recent and most impactful RPA (Robotic Process Automation), companies are looking beyond the human capabilities to manage these processes more accurately and productively.”
Monitoring orders and automating invoices – those are two things RPA works well for. Bots can use optical character recognition to to deal with various formats of orders (Word, Excel, email, etc), importing the orders, adding the information into systems, and sending a corresponding invoice.
Retail stores try to arrange the inventory based on existing customer preferences. In the past, we’ve done this mostly by gut. By today, actual data is available, and can easily be interpreted by software bots. They can analyze the organization of the store to fit customer expectations, improve user experience, and thus, boost profits. According to Signity, “RPA rule-based bots study the minute details and use fine-grained data to formulate the right strategy for store-specific merchandise arrangement.”
Accounting & Finance
According to ComTec, “In an age characterized by digital transformation, order and invoice processing, accounts payable and accounts receivable management, account reconciliation, procure to pay, order to cash, record to report cycles, consolidating account information amongst numerous other tasks can be managed using RPA.”
RPA bots can gather and consolidate transitions and reconcile them in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).
Supply & Demand Planning
Supply & demand planning sounds simple – create a supply plan to fulfill the demand of customers regarding a particular product – but it is a cumbersome task that includes gathering chunks of data, standardizing and formatting them, running simulations, finding exceptions, and communicating the plan. Many of these tasks can be automated through RPA.
Bots can analyze large amounts of data, providing easy access to exhaustive reports with real-time insights of customers’ behaviors and preferences. This all leads to increased capacity and a boost in productivity.
According to a forecast by FTI Consulting, online sales in the US alone are expected to double by 2023, reaching approximately 20 to 25% of the overall retail sector. Retail businesses have been scrambling to keep up with changing times and customers who would rather shop from their couch than in a store.
RPA bots can help. They can answer emails. They can also manage changing order and shipping statuses and update customers when their items have been processed, shipped, and delivered.