Is RPA Essential in Retail?

RPA can effectively make the difference between a profitable business and an inefficient one with shrinking margins
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Many of those who experience daily operations in the business world, increasingly recognize the enormous potential of RPA in various sectors and/or business areas.

RPA, without any shadow of a doubt, is a disruptive technology that allows companies to review and automate processes, which would normally be executed by people, with a significant impact, both in the operational result and in the performance, of any type of organization.

RPA applied to retail automates and improves the workflow of most repetitive, monotonous, and inefficient tasks, such as inventory management, customer engagement, loyalty program management, invoicing, customer complaint handling, and operational reporting automation.

Yet on a daily basis, we hear about retail emergencies, where the so-called ‘millennial shopper’ has very high expectations of the buying and selling experience.

Because of this, retailers are obliged to review every aspect of improvement in the customer journey. These details include price, product mix, product distribution, consumer habits, among many others.

Moreover, we must always remember that the ultimate goal of every retailer is to maximize the margins generated by the sales of products, which at first seems all very simple and uncomplicated, however there are pertinent questions that hover and yearn for answers, such as: Why are consumers so inconsistent? Why are retailers who have become accustomed to profits of considerable proportions now facing a steady erosion of margins?

The answer relates to the loss of their relevance due to a lack of:

  • Innovation in the pursuit of differentiated products;
  • Effectiveness in generating profits when scaling up in the quantity of products, and;
  • Mainly, of optimizing their workforce.
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All retailers who aim to be more essential to their customers, more efficient and optimized in the various functional areas of their business, are implementing RPA in many departments, as the levels of repetition and volume of processes inherent to retail sales, both online and offline, are so high that RPA, as well as being a powerful tool, fully addresses the imperative need to automate everything possible.

IS RPA ESSENTIAL TO RETAIL?

Retail is basically the last stage of a very long and complex value chain for the supply of consumer goods, which, as a rule, accumulates additional costs throughout its execution, which can increase significantly due to several factors. Therefore, any technology that can optimize the costs associated with the supply chain and increase profit margins is always welcome and, in this context, RPA can effectively make the difference between a profitable business and an inefficient one, with increasingly reduced margins.

RPA applied in the retail sector automates and supports various functions/activities such as inventory management, returns handling, shop supply planning, invoice verification as well as deliveries.

Other less known or valued functions are related to support in multiple office tasks, such as human resources management, in terms of salaries, time schedules, attendance, training, and incentives. What’s more, in the accounting and finance department one can automate activities related to massive accounting clearing entries, bank reconciliation, cash flow management, audit preparation, accounts payable, and receivable management.

It is undeniable that the success of the retail segment is essentially due to the scrutiny of various aspects of the business, which is enhanced by the automation of highly complex processes and/or the simplest tasks, with a high level of repetition and very little added value for those who perform them.

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WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF RPA FOR RETAIL?

RPA applied to the retail sector allows organizations to restructure all perceived or considered complex tasks, such as regulatory compliance and audit activities.

Reduction of delivery risksCompliance proceduresInventory ManagementApplication Integration
User SupportMulti-tasking supportAuditing proceduresOptimized costs

Once these activities are automated, employees can be freed up to perform more strategically relevant functions, which more easily promote their own and their company’s well-being.

CONCLUSION

According to a study conducted by Forrester in May 2020, it was concluded that approximately 50% of companies globally will adopt RPA technologies in their Digital Transformation process for the following purposes:

  • Increasing agility, diversity, and resilience in their supply chain operations;
  • Addressing extraordinary cost pressures;
  • Support remote workforces.

It is therefore critical that companies provide reskilling and upskilling opportunities in process automation for their employees to gain the knowledge and skills they need to thrive in the future of work, and thus maximize the potential of automation investments.

Therefore, the adoption of Intelligent Process Automation will be fundamental to give companies, regardless of the market sector, a competitive advantage and increase of corporate well-being of their workforce.

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