Robotic Process Automation

Why RPA Is Essential to The Future of The Retail Industry

High user-satisfaction, ever-changing customer demands, quick deliveries, post-sale support, and seamless e-commerce experience - these trends have engulfed the retail industry over the past few years.

Yet, the challenges do not end by simply meeting increased consumer demands; they extend to the back-end processes of managing large volumes of products and fast-moving nature of goods. Besides, standing on the cusp of the post-pandemic era, ‘business as usual’ has been anything but that for retail.

These needs, along with the convergence of the retail and consumer product industries, has beckoned robotic process automation (RPA) into the world of retail. Recognising its benefits beyond cost reduction and increased productivity, enterprises are harnessing RPA to take on various mundane and repetitive administrative tasks and perform complex analyses with speed, accuracy, and consistency.

“Initially, RPA was designed to complete administrative work using static rule sets and sophisticated macros. Now, it is evolving to complete more advanced functions, such as analysing unstructured data sets using natural language processing and content analytics.” – PricewaterhouseCoopers

Challenges faced by the retail industry

Having to rely on cumbersome systems and manual effort, retail businesses face various hurdles. Timely product availability in the market as per changing demand and managing with minimal workforce in a human-dependent industry have been put to the test during the recent pandemic. Retailers also need to effectively manage erratic market demand, as manual order and invoice processes are time-consuming. They continuously need to meet customer satisfaction across different geographies, and must also analyse and adapt to upcoming market trends for sustained growth. Let’s see how automation can offer practical help.

RPA use cases in retail

The applications of robotic process automation in the retail sector are vast. These include:

  • Sales analytics:

    RPA helps analyse factors that affect the sale of a product, amount of sales in different geographic locations, cultural preference, gender or age preference, etc. By providing real-time insights, retailers are able to make business decisions that can help increase product sales.
  • ERP management:

    Enterprise Resources Planning (ERP) management is essential to keep track of billing, price changes, employee vacancies, and other such proceedings that are required to generate reports on accounts payable and receivable. However, these time-consuming back-office functions can be automated. RPA drastically minimises human effort and enhances inventory management, resulting in faster payment processing, streamlined debt collection, and quicker shipping of products.
  • New product launch management:

    Launching a new product in the market requires a seamless amalgamation of the R&D, manufacturing, and marketing departments with effective communication processes. RPA streamlines this communication until the product launch. With integration capabilities, RPA also enables retailers to alter pricing, production, and stock according to customers’ preferences.
  • Supply chain and logistics management:

    Efficient management of supply chain and logistics is one of the pillars of successful retail enterprises. There are several processes involved in shipping products to customers such as shipment tracking, inventory monitoring, customer support, and product returns. Automating processes and communication not only reduces human labour but also improves collaboration between suppliers, distributors, and customers.
  • Customer support management:

    A capable 24x7 customer support is an essential ingredient of competitive retail, and AI-based bots are a crucial element to grow and retain happy and satisfied customers. From assisting buyers in recommended products to order payments to deliveries, RPA bots can provide them with a superior, hassle-free shopping experience.

Benefits of RPA in the retail industry

Here are some benefits retail businesses can reap using automation to stay in the game.

  • Predictions in market trends by RPA before or during a product launch.
  • Monitoring of sales of products through real-time analysis.
  • Invoice processing through optical character recognition (OCR) intelligence of RPA.
  • High support availability and all-time support to customers.
  • High level of compliance.
  • Highly productive teams.
  • Better integration of applications.

In 2019, global retail e-commerce sales neared $3.53 trillion and e-retail revenues were projected to grow to $6.54 trillion in 2022. While the pandemic has shaken nearly every industry, it has also accelerated discussions about automation in retail.

Infosys BPM and RPA in retail

Agility and intelligent processes can transform how retail businesses grow. Over the years, we have helped our clients experience process perfection, leading to thousands of man-hours saved and millions of dollars.

Get in touch with us to know how we successfully scale RPA programs for retail enterprises.

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