Why is now the time to invest in retail automation for the future?
Rising labor costs, difficulty managing supply chains, and growing customer expectations create an opportunity for automation to help build brand value and create a strong niche in the industry. today’s dynamic retail environment.
May 30, 2021Ed. Note: A version of this article was originally posted at Retail contact points.
Retail trade is declining around the world. Even before the pandemic, retailers faced stiff competition and declining profit margins. Now, more than a year after the lockdown, retailers are struggling to learn from the mistakes of the past in a rapidly changing market.
Retail is a massive industry. In the United States, there are approximately 3.8 million retail establishments supporting more than a few trillions of dollars in GDP. The industry employs more people than any other sector in the United States. Therefore, running a retail business in America requires a lot of effort and efficient technology for the management of operations.
The shift to e-commerce and the COVID-19 outbreak has created a strong market for e-commerce, leading to the demise of several physical retail outlets. A customer who sets foot in a point of sale expects immediate and impeccable service, similar to that received during an online purchase. Therefore, a retailer must have a well-maintained facility and provide good customer service. This is only possible if technology such as workflow automation software is in place.
Eliminate the stigma of automation in retail
Recent research indicates that the global retail automation market is expected to be worth more than $ 19.5 billion by 2024. Retailers are realizing that automation is a mandatory capability to cope with the ongoing crisis rather than a job killer as it was once perceived.
For context, workflow automation is a series of automated actions that together form a business process. Since the processes are repetitive in nature, automating the workflow reduces the need for employees to manually perform the activities involved in the process. This creates more space and time for staff to focus on higher value-added activities, essentially reallocating human resources to critical thinking roles like customer service.
Today, workflow automation is no longer just an optional tool for companies to consider. Process automation is becoming mandatory in all industries as it translates into lower costs and higher levels of productivity. Future-oriented businesses in the retail industry are turning to automation software to streamline operations and improve bottom lines.
The main benefit of adopting workflow automation software is to take away the pain of the mundane, which is why more and more employees are signing up. It also reduces the impact of human error that is inevitable in manual paper-based workflows.
Why Retailers Need Automation
The main impact of automating workflows in retail is reducing costs and improving operations. This could be achieved through better margins, more efficient workflows, higher productivity, time savings, reduced errors, better compliance, data collection and automated inventory checks and updates. .
Automating processes and automating workflows also helps improve many retail roles. Implementing automation software leads to better marketing and sales planning. The data collected through these platforms helps retailers better analyze and plan their sales strategies, resulting in better lead conversion and better customer service. This data also helps companies strategize their marketing campaigns and create greater long-term brand value.
Refined customer service and loyalty
Hiring software to take over repetitive and mundane tasks frees up time to focus on the most crucial aspect of a retail business: customer service. Healthy and prompt customer service is essential to building customer loyalty and growing the business. It also leads to an improvement in brand value over time. Giving customers the time and attention to meet their needs and resolve their grievances is very important to creating a strong customer experience.
This is exactly what automating workflows and processes does. These systems are able to seamlessly manage customer data while creating space for fast order fulfillment, automated customer support, and consistent service every time. In doing so, discrepancies related to having to interact with another leader on each visit are avoided.
Automation leads directly and indirectly to cost savings. Dematerializing paper through the automation of paper processes reduces expenses through reduced paper use, time and minimal manual errors. These types of savings are major factors that lead to significant cost benefits. Retail settings are changing too quickly for paper. Searching for documents in the desk drawer creates a delay in resolving crucial issues such as resolving customer complaints.
Using workflow automation software, one can scan invoices, forms, employee and customer data, inventory and more. This gives retailers centralized access to important information, eliminating paperwork and capturing data right from the bottom up. This not only cuts costs but also streamlines retail operations. Process automation software not only ensures that information is collected accurately, but it also makes that data available and accessible at all times. Information located at a centralized source can then be easily extracted, distributed and analyzed when needed.
Ability to evolve
Workflow automation software not only helps increase sales for a retail business, but also helps scale the business. Manual processes make it really difficult for the brand to grow. However, the collection and processes of digitized data can be scaled as easily as they are maintained. Imagine an inventory that needs to be increased but that has been processed manually. The gigantic task involved in recording the additional inventory is enough to hold back progress.
Along with the transition to a bigger brand, inventory and sales data from previous years helps analyze where to run your retail business. Data analysis is a crucial process in any business strategy, especially now during a pandemic when consumer behavior is so volatile and unpredictable. Automation tools give you digital access to this information, helping you make business decisions with an accurate, data-driven approach.
Goal setting for success
Automation can address many of the challenges that retailers face today; however, a successful implementation requires a comprehensive strategy that aligns with the goals and objectives of a business. A good place to start is to create a vision – identify the overarching goals of automation and the processes that could benefit the most from it. Additional investments in people and technology may be required, depending on the level of automation required. Getting buy-in from employees and stakeholders is key to building automation for long-term success. The importance of this step cannot be overstated. Automating out of order processes or focusing on the wrong areas can create risk and minimize results.
There are too many benefits to foregoing if one chooses to avoid workflow automation software, and with increasing competition in the market, this is becoming more of a mandatory requirement than an option for today’s retailers. Rising labor costs, difficulty managing supply chains, and growing customer expectations create an opportunity for automation to help develop brand value and create a strong niche in the industry. dynamic retail environment today.
Praveen Kanyadi is the co-founder and vice president of products at Group.io, a productivity platform that delivers real-time communication, automation and specialized applications for frontline workers. Kanyadi has a deep understanding of the productivity and communication challenges that organizations face with frontline employees. In his current role, he has helped organizations around the world improve their operational efficiency through direct communication with frontline staff and automation. Kanyadi has successfully led the deployment of Group.io to more than 300 clients in the hospitality, retail, healthcare, manufacturing and construction industries in 10 countries.