According to a global study co-sponsored by the IBM Institute of Business Value and the National Retail Federation, retailers and consumer product businesses are entering a new phase of technological innovation. Titled “The coming AI revolution in retail and consumer products”, the findings are based on a global survey of 1 900 retail and consumer products businesses across 23 countries. Some of the main findings include:
- Two in five retailers and consumer brands are already using intelligent automation and adoption of intelligent automation is expected to double by 2021.
- Intelligent automation is having a sizeable impact in areas such as demand forecasting, supply chain planning and customer engagement.
- Executives using intelligent automation believe that their top wins from using these innovations include improved operational agility, greater speed, smarter decision making and they offering their customers a better experience.
If you’re wondering what intelligent automation looks like in practice, we’ve rounded up a few examples of how it can benefit your retail business, below.
Stock management: Stock monitoring and replenishment is made easier thanks to artificial intelligence (AI), smart cameras and the Internet of things (IoT). These visibility solutions ensure that products are always available and that they are placed in the optimal location for customers looking to buy them. Moving beyond what is on the shelves, these autonomous systems also streamline supply chain logistics. This improves shipping times and order fulfilment, makes it easier to track shipments and monitor any issues that could disrupt supply. These tools also increase inventory accuracy so you can minimise under or overstocking.
Personalisation: We are living in the era of the connected consumer. Smart retailers, will take the needs and preferences of these tech savvy consumers into account when considering how automation can help them offer these customers a more personalised experience. The possibilities of this level of customisation could see a retailer giving a best-price offer to a customer in real time as they browse through their store. Gone are the days when retail businesses could just send out generic, mass promotions to all of their customers in the hope that some might be interested. Intelligent automation makes it possible for retailers to understand the customer’s context and respond proactively.
Robotic process automation (RPA): Bringing together a set of tasks and consolidating them, RPA can replace many of the repetitive human intervention processes that are costly and time-consuming for retailers. In fact, around 54% of the work done in retail has the potential to be automated, notes consultancy firm McKinsey & Company. And retailers are increasingly realising that manual processes are using up employee time unnecessarily.
For example, at a UK retailer user permission updates had to be approved by the store manager. This process took a long time in stores with many employees. With the help of software robots, retailer’s database is scanned to capture a list of employees who need to update their permissions and managers can approve all user permission requests at once.
As modern retailers start to embrace these innovative new technologies, it’s important that they also consider investing in a solution that helps them manage these assets. Our technology expense management platform, OneView, is designed to do just that. With OneView, retail businesses will gain a clear picture of their entire technology inventory, which empowers them to reduce areas of inefficiency and cut costs. Let us help you become a better business by completing the form below.