Digital Trends in Retail
Automating and digitizing your retail business operations is no longer considered optional in today’s competitive retail ecosystem. According to the Deloitte retail 2021 report, retailers foresee a continued increase in demand for digital engagements through 2021. The report also states that 88% and 78% of retailers will prioritize investments in digital acceleration and supply chain resiliency respectively in 2021.
Retailers understand that consumers have become accustomed to digital e-commerce channels. Retailers are not just selling merchandise via their online channel during the pandemic, but many have adopted new sales models such as Buy Online, Pick-Up in Store (BOPIS) which allows a consumer to make purchases online and pick up their order from the store.
To meet the demands of their customers, retail businesses should focus on automating their end-to-end supply chain processes. According to Deloitte’s Pre-Thanksgiving pulse survey, 56% of shoppers in 2020 said they planned to shop beforehand to avoid stockouts, versus 42% in 2019. The best way retailers can prepare for new buying behaviors and replenish stocks proactively is by automating their business operations, integrating disparate applications together and having an end-to-end integrated resilient supply chain. Retailers can achieve this automation and digitization by implementing application integration solutions with robotic process automation (RPA) capabilities.
Delivering Superior Customer Experiences with Application Integration and RPA
Retailers use multiple software applications that are a mix of on-premises and cloud. The retail application stack consists of payment processing, inventory management, point of sale (POS), retail ERP, marketing automation, e-commerce platforms, B2B vendor management, and many more. A smart retailer knows that all these applications must talk to each other and work in sync with automated workflow processes in place to deliver superior experience with trading partners and customers. Running retail applications in silos will lead to extensive manual work prone to errors and delays. End-to-end integration of cloud and on-premises retail applications is crucial for retail businesses. Application integration solutions with RPA capabilities help retail business to easily connect all their retail applications and automate retail business processes end-to-end.
Retailers should invest in a unified application integration and RPA solution that lets them quickly connect all their cloud and on-premises applications and orchestrate their entire business operations with automated workflow processes. The solution also needs to have the capability to create and manage APIs that help retail businesses to automate business processes and most importantly share and get access to information from applications in real-time.
Retail Business Benefits of Implementing a Unified Application Integration and RPA Solution
Retailers should adopt a strong application integration and robotic process automation solution that allows them to seamlessly connect their applications across their retail business ecosystem and automate their business processes. Here are 5 business benefits that the retail industry can gain by implementing a unified application integration and RPA solution.
- Automated Retail Processes for Quicker Order Fulfillment: With retail applications (cloud and on-premises) integrated together, retailers can eliminate manual work by automating their end-to-end order fulfillment business processes that include inventory, pricing, billing, returns, etc. This helps to eliminate errors and delays, and seamlessly delivers the best retail experience to consumers and their B2B trading partners.
- Superior Omni-Channel Customer Experience: Retailers are empowered to deliver exceptional customer experiences and drive omnichannel retail operations by processing orders that flow from multiple channels in real-time with automated workflow processes. Retailers can now get a complete 360-degree view of their marketing, sales, partners, support and map it to a single customer. Retailers can ensure that the same purchasing experience is delivered through any channel.
- Understanding Customer Behavior: The automation of retail processes and tasks by syncing applications enables retailers to better understand their customers’ behavior to provide personalized shopping experiences that drive growth and loyalty. And retail employees can focus more on their customers when retail business processes are handled automatically.
- Streamlined Inventory Management: Retailers can orchestrate applications to control the inventory systems for their warehouses, shop floors, and ecommerce sites by automatically identifying if items need to be replenished either by sending alerts or placing orders directly to their partners when a certain inventory threshold is met. Retailers can deliver real-time inventory data of the stocks that are not being consumed to the marketing and pricing systems to run them at discounted prices or push them via bundled offers to their ecommerce and physical stores. In this manner, retailers can gain inventory insights to increase sales with automated demand planning and stock replenishment.
- Resilient Supply Chain: Supply chain resiliency is made possible with end-to-end integration of applications to enable complete automation of business processes bolstered with robotic process automation, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. Every linkage in the supply chain (multiple trading partners/vendors, suppliers, physical stores, ecommerce platform, warehouses, distributors, deliveries, etc.) must be integrated so that retailers can gain complete transparency and visibility into their supply chain ecosystem, which spans from production to delivery. Digitizing and automating the supply chain using application integration and RPA solutions unlocks large volumes of data in real-time that can help retailers to streamline their retail operations.
Application Integration and Robotic Process Automation: The Path Forward for Retailers
Retail has always adopted emerging technologies that help businesses run more effectively. Retailers need to unlock the potential of their retail business through a digitization strategy to drive higher productivity and lower costs. To deliver the best retail customer experience, retailers should start integrating their application stack and automate their business processes to build a resilient supply chain by investing in an unified end-to-end integration and robotic process automation solution. The syncing of the entire retail ecosystem elements from production to delivery will empower retailers to do accurate demand forecasting, run effective marketing campaigns, boost sales, and deliver exceptional customer experiences amid unprecedented times.