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Improving Productivity
with RPA in Retail

By Bhavik Patel | September 2020

As a retailer, your primary focus needs to be on customer interaction, customer support and customer service. You know that a positive experience during all phases of the buying journey is key to customer loyalty and retention and that monotonous and inefficient processes have a negative impact on the customer journey. Within businesses there are multiple ways to improve the customer experience and see a significant ROI, and each company needs to implement the best processes that fit their needs and their goals.

One of the hot topics and buzz conversations over the last few years has been and still is, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), and this is a solution to your problem. According to a Gartner study, it was estimated that by this year, 2020, 90% of large and midsize organizations will have at least one process supported by RPA.

In a nutshell, RPA automates tedious and repetitive tasks by entrusting them to bots. With RPA, companies can improve productivity and quality of service, as well as accelerate tasks and improve standards and accuracy.

Automation simulates human actions

In a world where customers are moving more and more to online purchases the demand for customer service and customer experience is growing and this is adding increased pressure on companies to keep abreast of the market.

The concept of RPA is being increasingly adopted by companies and industries for productivity gains. One such industry is the Retail Industry. In this article, I highlight how your organization can benefit from implementing RPA.

Opportunities

In a world where customers are moving more and more to online purchases the demand for customer service and customer experience is growing and this is adding increased pressure on companies to keep abreast of the market.

The concept of RPA is being increasingly adopted by companies and industries for productivity gains. One such industry is the Retail Industry. In this article, I highlight how your organization can benefit from implementing RPA.

Below I highlight the top 4 common areas within retail that can benefit from RPA

1. Customer Support & Call Center

Customer support is the heart of any business. Retailers rely on customers
loyalty and the level of customer service provided to the customers plays a big
part in customer retention.

Automation can help retailers improve their customer service in many ways.
A common type of automation used by many e-commerce retailers is chatbots
which allows customers to interact with a virtual robot to get answers to
frequently asked questions such as ‘where is my order?’.

RPA can be implemented throughout the whole customer buying journey from
order enquiries, to delivery and customer support. Some typical examples of
the use of RPA is being able to automate order updates for customers, being
able to provide guidance to your call center agents and reducing average
handling time (AHT) during calls. Further to this, it can also assist with
automating orders, returns and replacements with your third-party suppliers.

It is common for call center agents to work with multiple systems depending on the query of the call. The benefit of having RPA is that you can have a robot updating multiple systems at the same time, without the agent repeating the same information across multiple systems. Think of all the time and money you can save by automating some of the repetitive tasks!

1. Customer Support & Call Center

Customer support is the heart of any business. Retailers rely on customers loyalty and the level of customer service provided to the customers plays a big part in customer retention.

Automation can help retailers improve their customer service in many ways. A common type of automation used by many e-commerce retailers is chatbots which allows customers to interact with a virtual robot to get answers to frequently asked questions such as ‘where is my order?’.

RPA can be implemented throughout the whole customer buying journey from order enquiries, to delivery and customer support. Some typical examples of the use of RPA is being able to automate order updates for customers, being able to provide guidance to your call center agents and reducing average handling time (AHT) during calls. Further to this, it can also assist with automating orders, returns and replacements with your third-party suppliers.

It is common for call center agents to work with multiple systems depending on the query of the call. The benefit of having RPA is that you can have a robot updating multiple systems at the same time, without the agent repeating the same information across multiple systems. Think of all the time and money you can save by automating some of the repetitive tasks!

2. Logistics and Supply Chain Management

Efficient management of logistics and supply chain allows retail organizations to move products from suppliers to their customers quickly. Between this transaction, there are several processes involved such as, inventory monitoring, customer support and order tracking, to name a few. All of these processes are dependent on humans sitting in the back office and that is why supply chain is a popular target for RPA.

Deploying RPA, not only improves the service level by automating tasks such as email communication between all parties involved at various stages of the process, but allows you to automatically maintain inventory levels or even generate useful alerts when stocks are running low.

Additionally, you could use RPA to look at the historic data to address the right level of stock you should have in place, to improve procurement and reduce wastage or costs. Ultimately, this will allow you to reduce the costs of the products for your clients and will improve customer satisfaction levels.

3. ERP Management

RPA is deemed to be a long-term solution for an organization with a high ROI and therefore organizations naturally look to scale up quickly. One of the main challenges with scaling up is support & maintenance of the automated solutions, as there is no adequate plan in place or developers are forced to support the existing solutions, forcing the automation programme to come to a stand still.

As a company grows and scales its operations, the old robots can often be left behind and forgotten about. By outsourcing your support and maintenance functionality, your partner can manage these for you to safeguard your investment and ensure that they are operational and maintained, to further optimize your ROI.

4. Business Intelligence

As you would have understood from the previous areas of opportunities, the
biggest benefit of RPA is that the past actions that have taken place can be
repetitively performed in the future without the manual effort. You could use
RPA to have an advantage over other retailers such as in sales & marketing
analytics. This is crucial when you are planning marketing campaigns or even
making decisions in product introductions and trade promotions, as it can give
you access to real-time data analysis reports on user behaviour.

The robots can also read historical and real-time sales data to create useful
reports, and help your business determine demand and supply trends to help
you with planning. This useful information can then be used to make decisions
on customer support, capacity and supplier management.

4. Business Intelligence

As you would have understood from the previous areas of opportunities, the biggest benefit of RPA is that the past actions that have taken place can be repetitively performed in the future without the manual effort. You could use RPA to have an advantage over other retailers such as in sales & marketing analytics. This is crucial when you are planning marketing campaigns or even making decisions in product introductions and trade promotions, as it can give you access to real-time data analysis reports on user behaviour.

The robots can also read historical and real-time sales data to create useful reports, and help your business determine demand and supply trends to help you with planning. This useful information can then be used to make decisions on customer support, capacity and supplier management.

Product categorization is another key function for retail. Customers continue to fail to find products online because of poor product categorization. You could leverage RPA to assign attributes and categorize products online for a seamless customer experience. The opportunities for RPA in retail are endless and you should think about implementing the technology now, if you haven’t already begun your journey in automation.

Benefits

As mentioned above, RPA can improve productivity and quality of service. With the robots taking care of the repetitive and mundane tasks, employees can focus on more complex and strategic tasks. Here are some other benefits of RPA and why you should think about implementing RPA in your organization now:

•  Improves compliance
•  Processes are completed 100% accurately
•  Significant reduction in expenditure and enabling cost savings
•  Better Inventory management
•  Enable auditing
•  Allows users to multi-task
•  Improves application integration
•  Decreases delivery risks

Early adopters of RPA are already reaping the benefits that the technology can provide. Especially, during the last few months, the retailers that have already implemented RPA, benefited from the technology when organizations made changes to their workforce and processes to enable them to work from home and still keep up to the demand.

Keeping automation operational 24/7

With any technology or software implemented in your organization, it is imperative that you have an appropriate plan for support & maintenance in place, to ensure it is operational at all times. If you have already implemented RPA or thinking about implementing RPA, you can now outsource the support & maintenance of the robots and here are the top 5 reasons why:

•  Reduce costs of support & maintenance
•  Improve productivity by having your high-value resources focus on innovating rather than supporting
•  Enables your organization to scale the efforts quickly without having to worry about support & maintenance
•  24/7/365 support as your business critical process will run 24/7/365
•  Maintenance of your processes all year around to cater for process & season changes

There are a multitude of reasons why you should consider outsourcing your RPA support & maintenance to a trusted partner. As your organization scales their efforts in RPA, the support & maintenance of these robots will grow. Outsourcing will enable your organization to scale without having to worry about maintaining your existing bots.

Quantanite can provide first and second line support as well as managing the communication for the third line support with the IT team or the RPA vendor, so that the business can focus on innovating without worrying about support. We can also set up automatic alerts on your RPA solution allowing the robots to directly communicate any faults to our ticket managing system, as well as have a plan in place to monitor, maintain & optimize processes.

Are you thinking about implementing RPA?
Are you currently struggling to scale?
Are your high-value resources assigned to bot maintenance rather than innovating?


Contact one of our experts for a free health check.

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