The 21st century has drawn industries closer to the definitive approach of providing unreal and rich customer experiences. Hence, it is of no surprise that customer demands have increased, competition has turned out to become fiercer and ROI is not the only thing that determines your results. In such a competitive space, and in particular, in the retail industry and among other industries where the priority of supply chain is high, the use of robotic automation can make the difference that technologists are looking for.

So what does Robotic Automation Processes aim to resolve? Are results quantifiable? If so, are you ready to take the plunge for robotic automation? Let us find out!

One of the major bottlenecks in the retail industry, oil and gas industry and in many other B2C industries, where employees tend to find a lot of hassles and unexpected delays is for order and cash processing. Approximately dull, repetitive and menial tasks take up 10 to 20% of human work hours .In other words; companies are spending 30% of their time on low-level tasks instead of focusing human work hours on tasks that require human intelligence supplementing cognitive intelligence.

One of the major bottlenecks is in the form of order and cash processing section of a complete transaction. 30% of cost savings, in the form of reduced overhead costs can help in enhanced customer supplier and employee satisfaction.

So what has gone wrong so far? A manual process consisting of human work force takes care of the order processing of a particular item. Hence, each step from processing the order to the payment processing, the inventory management, invoice and contract management, freight management, supply and demand planning as well as the processing of returns is a tiresome task. Each or most of these processes are handled backend by human resources, which gives rise to unnecessary delays in processing, which in turn provisions for errors.

Moreover, how can RPA help? With robotic process automation (RPA), the entire order, payment and invoice processing and generation done by bots, each iteration takes place after a confirmation from the previous iteration.

For example, let us take the case of returns processing, which is already a case of extra cost to the company. However, with a human work force behind returns processing, it might add up to extra-unforeseen costs and time delays. With bots handling such menial and repetitive tasks, all the changes regarding the returns including the inventory database and balancing the cash sheets takes place in an orderly fashion.

How can the industry work towards a future with bots? With the implementation of bots for order processing and invoice generation and account management, professionals can move to high-profile tasks. At the same time, these bots help in keeping an updated record of reports of each transaction. These records are error free and help in marketing and sales intelligence for future promotions of the product or further releases of new products. Bots can also act as data sources and can provide ample amounts of data, where machine-learning algorithms take control of the data and understand customer behaviours through transactions.

So what is the implementation strategy? Too often than not, companies tend to implement RPA in the wrong places. This leads up to them undervaluing the importance of RPA in their industry. Hence, the creation of bots for a particular task must take place only after looking at each phase from an ROI perspective in terms of implementation costs versus overhead costs.

Benefits keep adding on through RPA once implementation of certain aspects of order processing, inventory management and ordering takes place.

Benefits such as Time: 

Bots work to check the billing and order details and ensure that there is no hindrance in the transaction taking place. Inventory management is efficient and hence, stock details in the inventory are updated real time with every purchase.

Complex Workflows but Efficient Processing:

Generally, for manual processes, if the transaction becomes complex, the person handling the order processing can be prone to making errors, which lead to delays and a slow transaction process. One mistake can lead your customer to your competitor.

When looking at robotic process automation from a 360° view, it should be understated that the retail industry is an industry on the knife-edge where any lack in customer experience can prove to be extremely detrimental for the retailer, leading to extra customers for the competitor. Even in the other industries, when dealing with supply chain, customers are looking for the apt service that will suit their needs. Understanding and analysing the importance of RPA, its benefits and the right places to implement RPA is the initial stage that companies have to focus on. Order Processing, Cash Processing and Supply Chain are one such gold mine where RPA has a lot of scope. Technologists and implementers of AI and ML can also help in bridging the space between RPA used in menial tasks and customer intelligence using AI and ML, which would help companies to create the competitive advantage through cognitive intelligence and the X-Factor, i.e. RPA.

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Ashish Ninan Cherian

Ashish Cherian is a marketing enthusiast who has an extreme interest in analytics and in studying customer behaviour. He wants to progress deeply in these areas and is keen on learning something new every day. He also loves to read, travel, and debate and is a huge foodie.
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