The retail and CPG industry is now a work in progress as it is going through a transformative phase during the pandemic. To create a jumpstart to the road to rehabilitation, the retail landscape will have to significantly accelerate their digital transformation strategies that will eventually solve the increasing demand in the digital assurance niche. Most e-commerce organizations and the physical retail market are looking to leverage technologies to stay competitive and appealing enough to the changing customer behavior especially during these testing times. So, the speed at which the retailers handle the modern digital customers and the flexibility in their approach will be our two cents’ worth in mapping the future of retailing.
However, as the modern world tirelessly craves innovative technologies to manage businesses, retail providers are thriving hard to keep up with the latest technology. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has reaped significant benefits by automating simple rule-based, manual processes across industries. However, the introduction of cognitive abilities and machine learning algorithms to RPA is witnessing a surge in popularity of late. Companies have already started exponentially investing in AI technologies over the last five years. The road ahead for the retailers is to integrate AI with RPA, failing which they might risk holding the wooden spoon against their competitors.
AI is estimated to hold close to $15.5 trillion of the global GDP by the end of 2030 which is more than the current total of India and China combined.
Impact of Cognitive Automation in Retail
1. Automating Mainstream Processes
As evident, many companies have thrown their hats in the ring by implementing RPA in the backend. But so far, all they have done is deploying RPA only in what we consider as non-critical processes. So, to make their businesses much more scalable, we are hoping to see them implement cognitive automation in much more mainstream processes. This is the only choice available for the business leaders to procure the promised ROI from the mainstream space.
2. Creating a humanoid connection
Over the last few years, some companies have expressed their threat to the human workforce due to cognitive automation. Although these robots would indeed optimize human effort, the reality is just the opposite. The software bots stop humans from working like robots and at the same time serve as the red carpet for humans with specialized knowledge to assist them.
3. Customer Personalization & Employee Engagement
Improving customer experience is one of the hallmarks of cognitive automation. As customers and employees make the fulcrum of any business in an industry, cognitive automation’s AI-powered chatbots allow the business to engage in a healthy relationship with the customers. This results in a much more agile approach from the employees and better satisfaction of customers.
4. Scalable Business Operations
Cognitive RPA has given the luxury of focusing only on creative and value-added operations to the organizations. The workforce with the best of skillsets is driving process innovation making business operations more nimble. This reflects the way organizations are becoming much more scalable to stay competitive.
Benefits of Cognitive RPA in Retail:
- Automated Checkout
- Sales Forecasting
- Online search recommendation
- Churn rate minimization
- IoT in-store analysis
- Optimizing energy usage
Application Areas of Cognitive RPA
Cognitive RPA has shown great promise both in back-office operations and shop-front operations. Across various functions in retail comprising paper-intensive tasks, staff and product management, and serving customers, AI and RPA will help retail providers achieve scalable results.
Store Planning and Strategizing
The machine learning algorithms in the cognition technology helps retailers to collate, rework and standardize data, and automatically enter them into a spreadsheet. The data in the spreadsheet is transformed into pictorial representations such as graphs and charts. Eventually, these data allow you to build solid business plans by reducing considerable time on manual report compilations. Cognitive RPA also forecasts sales figures, generates customer profiles, and deciphers the changing customer shopping preferences.
By automating reports on consumer and market behavior, planning campaigns and targeting a specific and real audience becomes a walk in the park for marketing and sales professionals.
Logistics and Inventory Management
Inventory management forms the backbone of the retail sector, especially during the pandemic. The AI-powered algorithms can now take the place of humans by staying in sync between all channels of sales for a brand and simultaneously keep a tab on inventory levels as well.
AI applications also keep a track of the logistics of goods by managing their provenance and shipping conditions data. The logistics industry can depend entirely on RPA to make more informed decisions, while the bots track the entire journey to ensure better security for the customers.
Cognitive technologies also help retail leaders by tracking customers’ in-store movement and gather information on the demand and predicting the popularity of specific consumer packaged goods.
Customer Experience Personalization
As mentioned earlier, customer service is an important aspect in the retail space as it has reached higher levels with the help of cognitive RPA. Equipped with natural language processing (NLP) technology, the chatbots will be able to decipher a customer request in terms of their tone of the email and offer the best possible solution by understanding customer sentiments. Chatbots can help cut the expenses of manual customer support by making them available around the clock.
Cognitive RPA also collects accurate data on buyer preferences and the ever-changing customer behavior so that the retailers can develop their sales figures by recommending bestsellers. Moreover, robots can notify businesses on the shelf inventory, price tag changes, and product personalization.
Cognitive RPA has stepped out of its experimental phase and is already proving its worth in the business ecosystem. The technology is now a “must-have” than a “could have” for any business. If you haven’t started your automation journey, our team of innovative experts can get you started after a thorough assessment of your requirements. But if you have already invested in RPA, our team will be able to guide you on gradually upgrading to cognitive RPA to improve your ROI from these investments.