What does workload automation mean for the retail industry?
As uncertainty becomes the name of the game, retailers’ ability to operate is fundamentally changing. Rather than pump the brakes on IT projects, smart retailers are accelerating the push in search of processes that reduce operational costs, eliminate human error and deliver superior customer service.
These retailers are shifting to digital transformation projects that address the challenges of agility, efficiency and accuracy to deliver faster time to market and help scale their business. Fortunately, as businesses look to streamline their processes, retail automation solutions are available to enable digital transformation projects, as well as connect legacy systems with modern on-premise data centers and cloud-based infrastructures.
The retail industry is no stranger to workload automation. But as retailers face the risk of store closures, shrinking margins, and customer flight, it’s critical they can rapidly scale and automate the IT processes of their key retail systems.
Retailers are faced with constant demands on their IT systems—increased demand for data analytics and smart technology, e-business initiatives, supply chain and logistics management. All these systems require labor-intensive workflows that can easily strain busy IT departments.
As workflow processes in retail become more complex and time-consuming, leveraging operational efficiencies in this competitive sector can be the difference between success and failure. For both physical stores and retailers, workload automation is the optimal solution for companies requiring agility and simplicity in their retail processes, ranging from customer fulfillment, stock management and inventory procurement, to front office processes like sales, auditing and billing.
Automation can help these businesses operate smoothly by reducing fulfillment processing time, collecting and analyzing store traffic and buying trends, and creating better customer experiences.
With workload automation, companies can set up tasks including order management systems, inventory to market testing, and customer service. As brands enter higher growth phases, workload automation becomes more integral to business functions, as it is designed to streamline tasks more quickly and securely than people can.
One of the main benefits of workload automation is in reducing labor costs – more automation means fewer manual tasks. Plus, with less need for human capital to perform those tedious, repetitive tasks, employees are free to focus on higher value projects.
However, one of the main challenges in integrating technology for retailers today is solutions falling short of expectations. There are a lot of technology solutions on the market, and many brick-and-mortar stores often struggle to see the value of their IT investments. This is where workload automation technology can make it easy for retailers wanting to transform themselves into a technology-driven organization.
How is workload automation different from robotic process automation?
Workload automation and job scheduling solutions help retailers by automating labor-intensive back-end I&O tasks to free employees up to focus on value-creating initiatives. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) manages repetitive business processes that would be done by end-users, such as form-fills and chatbots.
For instance, if a customer calls support to check on the status of their order, the customer service representative would log onto the CRM platform to access the order number and then take that order number to the shipping site to manually track the status of the package.
This is where RPA comes in. This platform would drive the AI automation to take all these steps to retrieve this information for the customer service employee.
In a nutshell, workload automation often deals with scaling the demand on large numbers and processes, while RPA automates manual tasks like scanning an email, with a focus on front-end tasks.
Why automate retail business systems?
Automation software is useful in performing repetitive tasks more effectively than humans, which empowers retail professionals to focus on offering a better customer experience and quality of service, all with more efficient project implementation and reduced costs.
Better efficiency in completing tasks means there’s more opportunity to focus on customer service and sales. One of the most important things to a customer is delivery – failure to deliver on time can lose you a customer. In a time when many customers are buying online, the quality of processes needs to be as accurate as possible. Automation helps retailers continue to meet delivery demands and grow customer bases.
Another major area using automation is the business intelligence unit (BI) in retail. This process integrates and pulls data from systems to systems, consolidates data and updates data in real-time. BI not only looks at the history of data, but also helps form strategies for company business decisions. Some examples include calculating trends, predicting buying patterns, training and using technology to create personalized offers and promotions for customers to increase sales.
Common applications of automated systems in retail
Today, many retailers and brands across the world are using SMA Technologies’ OpCon workload automation to create a higher quality of customer service, and recapture lost revenue with value-driven automated systems.
A core use of the automation platform is enhancing logistics for tracking inventory in warehouses. When an IT manager opens their warehouse and an order is placed for a product, for example, OpCon helps streamline all the behind-the-scenes processes to track and ship the product with a click of a button. OpCon also helps with decreasing human error – a top problem in 46% of all warehouses.
With more than 1,000 retail locations, French clothing retailer Camaïeu requires speed and agility to deliver superior service to its customers. Camaïeu’s IT team was experiencing difficulties keeping up with stores, their e-commerce presence, and all the logistics that came with it. However, after connecting OpCon to their self-service portal, they quickly began to streamline their operations. Camaïeu now benefits from company-wide organization, quicker logistics, and reporting with fewer errors across all departments.
How SMA Technologies can help
SMA Technologies’ OpCon workload automation platform helps retailers transform their businesses, providing better customer experiences with greater operational efficiencies. Essentially, automation is the glue between a retailer’s various systems.
Whether it’s shipments or inventory, automating processes is key to connecting, for example, with ERP systems, inventory applications, or databases. Workload automation orchestrates the processes based on the events that are happening and provides command orders through a REST API or legacy extension.
The OpCon solution offers cross-functional, bi-modal orchestration and hybrid cloud infrastructure capability to improve IT Ops agility and help them move to an e-commerce model. It achieves this by offering the following:
- - Providing technology that enhances agility, simplicity and tight control and processes for retail
- - Faster processing and data-warehousing
- - Embracing many applications – allowing the fast integration of any solution
- - Allowing for scale – whether it’s Black Friday or any other shopping day, OpCon can help retailers with processes that can be improved through automation
OpCon’s workload automation platform makes it possible to improve productivity, speed, and reduce human error and risk while providing efficiency, productivity and agility. At a time when many businesses are turning to non-contact and delivery only, automation tools are indispensable for any successful retail business.
Ultimately, when considering how to bring your business into the digital future, consider using automation solutions for retail, as they can help take your business to the next level.
Tell us how you’d like to automate
To find out more about how our OpCon workload automation platform can help you transform your retail business, use the form below to get in touch with one of our experts today.