Retail is coming under increasing pressure, and its evolution is one of necessity more than choice. Between increasing labor costs and competition from lower-cost e-commerce only outfits, traditional retail must adapt if it wants to survive – and this is where retail automation comes in.
What is Retail Automation?
Retail automation is an umbrella term that describes the use of technology, within a retail environment – one that’s designed to streamline processes, reduce human intervention, and improve efficiency. It also aims to reduce cost and errors, as well as increase the value humans can offer by giving them more time to focus on their specific roles.
Examples of retail automation can be seen in both offline and online settings. In-store, it could include managing staff timetables and replenishing low stock; and online, popular uses include marketing functions – such as feedback and sales offers based on a customer’s purchase history.
Bigger uncertainty & challenges in the retail industry
Changing customer demands, coupled with low cost, personalized services, and issues in the global supply chain over the past couple of years have impacted fuel charges, material prices, and labor costs – which have all had a massive effect on the retail sector.
Customers want everything faster, with longer return options and all from the comfort of their own home. This is particularly at odds with real-life stores that rely on foot traffic to sell their products. In addition, young brands are continuing to disrupt the market with increasingly customized services.
However, automation can play a positive role in alleviating many of these pain points – helping to improve efficiencies, retain customer loyalty, and deliver an improved level of service.
Big opportunity for automation in the retail industry
Retail automation offers classic brick and mortar stores the opportunity to be a part of something completely new. We’ve seen the initial success of Amazon Go in the US where they’ve managed to begin cornering the fresh food market with almost staffless and totally cashless transactions. Or, look at Carvana which has become the fastest-growing used car dealer in the US, making itself famous for its car vending machines.
The shift to e-commerce within many sectors along with the impact of COVID has created a perfect environment for retail companies to pursue automation. Working with big retail giants isn’t new to us and recently we managed to save 1000 hours annually for a major furniture retailer while completely removing any human error from a part of their order checking process.
Research shows that automation in retail is no longer an option – it’s a necessity. Struggles to hire quality people are increasing worldwide and because of this, a focus on retail automation is now crucial as companies must seek software solutions to their processes. Beyond the strain of managing workloads, businesses everywhere must strive to become more efficient to avoid the pinch of price increases else they won’t be able to compete at the scales they are built for.
Does your retail business need a leg up from automation? – Contact PAteam today!