Automation: The New Identity of Retail

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Adopting automation in retail will enable retailers to offer the newest and most innovative retail management and shopping experience

Vamsi Vellanki, ED, Grene Robotics

The pandemic has placed the retail industry under a lot of pressure and that prompted retail businesses to undergo a lot of changes over the last few years. The pandemic did not make things any easier. The year 2020 ended with a 3 per cent decline in total worldwide retail sales at $23.389 trillion. A chunk of customers have now shifted towards online shopping and expect high-quality products with prompt service. Retailers face issues such as higher costs, supply chain problems, and the need for higher investments. The retail margin is stressed from all sides. Adding more to this, the cut-throat competition and overwhelming pressure to increase wages is always there.

Challenges and Solution 

Retailers hold onto the outdated point of sale (POS) software well past its usable lifespan where the framework is still done in excel. This leads to problems such as frequent system downtime, inability to meet customer and technology needs compared to the competition, insufficient security measures while also facing operational challenges like stock loss, zero purchase visibility, lack of remote management of the store, no real-time insights, poor appointment experience, dead stock to name a few.

Adopting automation in retail will enable retailers to offer the newest and most innovative retail management and shopping experience. An autonomous platform can provide you with a real-time updated product catalogue, digital tracking and auditing, live sales tracking, real-time dashboard and sales analytics, AI-enabled inventory, and stock management in real-time, multi-store management and so much more. Automation in warehouses, back-office and stores can provide retailers with enough flexibility to adjust for changes in customer buying patterns and demand.

One must now move away from traditional and tedious manual practices and become more efficient and faster by investing in autonomous solutions.

Automation: The Impact

Automation can positively impact retail in the following ways:

Higher Efficiency:Automation makes routine tasks more efficient and allows for human effort to be redistributed elsewhere. Moreover, by predicting demand, resource utilization can be done most coherently. Algorithms can aid in retailers understanding their hiring needs based on full-time or part-time,skill sets and ensure an optimal headcount. Using autonomous solutions for distribution, allocation and tracking, time wastage and inefficient scheduling can be eliminated. All this brings down employee costs and enhances operational performance.

Providing Actionable Insights:Any kind of in-store or online interaction and customer behaviour, when captured autonomously, would provide invaluable insights about customer buying patterns and preferences that retailers can leverage. Data insights can also help in anticipating future demand for new products and give personalized recommendations. Since retail is fast-moving and dynamic, automation can provide the sector with themuch-needed agility and pace with the trends. With automation, retailers cannot only pick up such business insights but also address grievances and appeals for a swift resolution which would set them apart from the rest in this aggressive competitive industry.

Better Customer Experiences:The pressure on stores to retain existing customers while attracting new customers is more than ever. They need novel shopping experiences with the innovative technology with targeted customer-centric campaigns with a high focus on compliance, safety and hygiene and after-sales support to ensure an elevated experience. By conducting regular audits, enforcing daily checks and adhering to business-specific standards, automation can help in identifying problems in retail before customer satisfaction is compromised and enhance the whole buying experience.

Streamlining the Industry:Mckinsey reported that about half of the current processes in retail can be automated. The industry can redistribute its workforce towards more strategic roles by automating routine and repetitive tasks. We can also expect more investment in reskilling to prepare workforces for new jobs that automation will create. This way, eventually, automation will reshape the value chain in retail and use real-time data and analytics to make data-driven decisions.

Smoothening Processes:With orders flooding in every day, retailers are likely to get overwhelmed with processing, expediting, delivering, and so on. This is exactly where automation can help. Bots can help with streamlining the inflow of data and give packing and delivery agents data to process orders further. Automation eliminates the risk of errors and oversights and helps in delivering better customer service.

The Need of Hour

From order processing, store planning, data collection and customer service, automation in retail can streamline experiences for both the retail team and customers, thereby enabling the brand to accelerate its growth in the long run.

Retail margins can be minimized by automating operational expenses and offering lower prices to customers, absorbing costs within the system. That will also enable brands, big and small, to retain customers and enjoy their loyalty.

With automation, retailers can also make the buying and selling processes simpler, advanced and enhanced. They can do away with tedious and manual practices and reinvest that money in integrating autonomous solutions and offering innovation-led shopping experiences to their

existing and new customers.On that account, if you want your company to sustain itself in this ever-changing competitive retail landscape, it’s time to automate!

Key Points

  • From order processing, store planning, data collection and customer service, automation helps in streamlining experiences for both the retail team and customers
  • Automation helps in quick processing, processing, expediting, delivering, and so on
  • Data insights can also help in anticipating future demand for new products and give personalized recommendations
  • Automation will reshape the value chain in retail and use real-time data and analytics to make data-driven decisions
  • Algorithms can aid in retailers understanding their hiring needs based on full-time or part-time, skill sets and ensure an optimal headcount
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