The retailers leading the way for the future are those with a clear approach to continuous improvement, and a rigour on process review to make the customer journey quicker and more efficient than their competitors, and one which takes out the cost of operational inefficiency.
Retailers that see Artificial Intelligence (AI) in their offices, warehouses and supply chains as the future may have either tried and failed with the first step into this technology or feel it’s out of their reach.
Data is key, and retailers have more than most (or than they realise) in their repository. The shift from forecast-driven supply chains towards a demand -led approach is a key trend as retailers start to understand more about their customers , their lifestyles and preferences. How to use this knowledge more effectively is where Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can be the answer and can help with:
Data Gathering – different functions in the business require varying levels of information in the product lifecycle from sourcing, distribution through to delivery i.e. EAN codes, SKU references, descriptions (basic and in-depth), cubic sizes (product and packaging), weight, pricing options, user instructions and technical information. RPA can be programmed to gather data on products, volumes and transactions to populate multiple systems automatically.
Data inconsistencies – retailers operating a market place offering can be reliant on suppliers providing the information for the fulfilment of drop ship products. RPA can search for and identify workflow inconsistencies and trigger further automations i.e. email to the supplier or manufacturer requesting further information.
Intelligence – learning from your data, RPA can provide you with a focus and set actions around low stock levels of best sellers, or high stock levels of poor sellers and can make common sense decisions based on trends, for example automatically providing marketing with information for spot promotions.
Policing – programming spot checks in the data can identify errors and be proactive in reducing the risk. For example, identifying the highest risk stock not in bin (SNIB) SKUs, by looking at expected deliveries and any delays which might impact product availability, this can stop pickers wasting time in returning to the bins until the stock has been replenished, and reduce part-picked orders, which can be complicated and expensive to manage.
Workflow – reviewing your process from contract to delivery, tracking the steps involved for a successful transaction and what to do if there are failures with stock integrity. If the order is held up due to no stock, then the system can be programmed with rules to carry out automated actions i.e. external communication to the customer advising of the delay and internally to trigger a resolution.
Stock Integrity – are you proactive in managing your stock integrity? Delays outside your control i.e. delivery vehicles held up due to a traffic accident can trigger automated actions to accommodate the disruption i.e. out of stock notification on ecommerce systems.
Financial – data from multiple systems within a business may be required to provide a single financial view. With RPA, reconciliations, credit checking processes including triggers to detect and prevent potential fraud can be automated along with analysis reports of performance to relevant managers.
This level of automated intelligence can improve the quality of your data, identify trends and become the bridge or pre-cursor to future Artificial Intelligence (AI) projects.
Retailers have the subject matter expertise and RPA has the efficiency skills to find the data, cleanse it, incubate it, sense check the data with policing bots that can challenge the output and learn from the results. All valuable data for the AI algorithms.
Enterprise RPA use UIPath technology as the enabler, along with our retail industry expertise we can implement operational automated processes to reduce time and costs at the micro level to help you take the next step to AI.
Don’t fall asleep at the wheel – and miss the turnoff for the future. Plan now.
To find out more or to arrange a demonstration, contact Enterprise RPA on 0333 987 3938