By Simon Shah, Chief Marketing Officer, Redwood Software
Ever since AI and robotics became popular topics of conversation, there has been a lot to say for their impact on one of the most advanced industries in the world – retail. I was reading an interesting article on Mashable a couple of days ago, around how in-store automation could replace 4 in 10 positions in the sector over the next decade. While it’s admittedly still a way off, I couldn’t help but think retailers would be better off worrying about their back office, rather than their front stores.
Until recently, the retail industry has been receptive to robotics, with automation playing a key role in streamlining the supply chain. Why then jump straight to physical stores themselves, when ‘behind the scenes’ implementation is driving such great results, and can be taken so much further?
Every retailer knows that while products may be flying off the shelves, none of that matters if you don’t have an efficient back office, ready to complete orders and deliver stock. Retail CIOs are more than aware of how vital it is to streamline operations, with human labour slowing down operations and using valuable employee resource.
By automating the millions of different back-office processes that make up a retail operation, retailers can benchmark a new era of growth. The increasing sophistication of robotics is entering a new phase, one that can meet customer demands at scale. Automating rules-based, repetitive tasks ensures the same level of quality is being applied to the ‘uninteresting’, but essential jobs – those that make a business successful.
This leaves human members of staff better prepared to deal with the tasks that promote a seamless, tailored customer experience. Thanks to online shopping, customers can easily buy anything they want at the convenient click of a button, but many still chose to visit physical stores. Why? Because they like the human element or shopping – engaging with others. Shoppers crave the experiences that physical stores can offer, and simply replacing these with robotics may not have the desired effect. Instead, retailers should consider the function of their back office processes, leaving the human element in-store for the time being.
For a truly successful retail operation, CIOs should play on the strengths of both human and robotic employees, driving internal productivity and customer satisfaction with a dual-pronged approach. In order to have a chance at competing with the Amazon’s of the industry, retailers should take a look at how far automating the supply chain has allowed them to come, and reflect this in the back office.Categories: Automation Robotics Software Robotic Process Automation