Retailers are under constant pressure to streamline business operations in an effort to reduce costs, increase revenue and ultimately, improve the bottom line. Add an uncertain economy, potential recession and increasingly competitive marketplace to the mix, and retailers need immediate ways to transform their operations. Fortunately, no-code, unified hyperautomation platforms enable retail organizations to quickly automate key elements of their business without the integration and additional services required with other solutions.
HuLoop’s unified hyperautomation platform provides a variety of automation opportunities across a retail business, including shopper engagement/customer service, merchandising, marketing, supply chain, store operations, finance, technology and HR/payroll. This article will focus specifically on the automation opportunities that exist within a retailer’s supply chain operations.
Opportunity #1: Add new product listings, images and attributes.
The HuLoop platform enables retailers to automate the creation of new product listings by scanning and reading data from product documents using intelligent character recognition (ICR). This data is used by HuLoop’s artificial intelligence (AI) to classify the products, which is then used by an RPA bot to update the data in appropriate systems. The bot reads the product information, identifies the images, uploads them to the respective product folders. In the background, the bot also extracts data as required from supplier websites and trade exchanges to create the new product listings.
This automates a labor-intensive process, saving time while ensuring that the product listings, images, and attributes are accurate, to ultimately provide a great customer experience.
Opportunity #2: Track orders, shipments, and inventory
The HuLoop hyperautomation platform helps retailers get a view of orders, shipments and inventory moving through multiple touch points and carriers. This status can be updated on the website so that suppliers and customers can get updates on the status of their orders and shipments. Bots are used to automate the process of monitoring, tracking, and managing the inventory levels as well as delivery of goods to ensure timely receipt.
This can help improve customer satisfaction by providing timely updates on the status of orders and shipments. It can also help businesses keep suppliers informed and make more informed decisions about inventory, reducing stock-outs and excess inventory.
Opportunity #3: Automated invoice reconciliation
Using HuLoop, retail organizations can conduct three-way matching between purchase orders (POs), receipts and accounts payable. Bots can be used to extract data from different systems like inventory management and enterprise resource planning (ERP) to compare the quantities, prices, and terms to what was ordered (with PO), to the goods received to what is being charged (invoice). If there are mismatches detected, the bot can send an alert and even initiate a process to resolve the issue.
Automating the three-way matching process can save businesses a significant amount of time and labor since it eliminates the need for manual data entry and comparison. This can also improve the accuracy and reduce manual errors, leading to better supply chain management.
Opportunity #4: Evaluate competitive costs when a product is available from multiple suppliers
Retail businesses can use automated screen capture and record to track and scrape pricing and other relevant information from supplier websites for products available from multiple suppliers. This data can then be fed to advanced analytic tools that use AI to analyze the data and determine the best supplier for a given product based on cost and other factors.
This helps retail businesses improve efficiency as the intelligent automation can quickly process large amounts of data and enable faster decision-making. This enables more informed purchasing decisions and potentially reduces costs and improves profitability.
Opportunity #5: Review, track and report on supplier contracts
Companies can use HuLoop’s Intelligent Document Processing (IDP) to automate the process of scanning and extracting relevant data from contracts such as expiration dates, key terms, and clauses, and then use RPA to input that data into a contract management system. In addition, HuLoop’s AI/machine learning (ML) can be used to automatically flag potential issues or risks in contracts, such as compliance or financial considerations before they are executed. RPA bots can be used to track the contract through its lifecycle to send alerts of important events like upcoming expiration or renewal of contracts.
This automation provides better visibility and control over contracts by creating a streamlined process for tracking and reporting on contracts. It also helps identify any potential risks or issues before it’s too late.
Opportunity #6: Automate generation and sending of PO to suppliers
Retailers can use HuLoop’s RPA to automatically populate PO templates with data from internal systems, such as inventory management and ERP systems. RPA bots automatically sends these POs to suppliers based on pre-determined reorder points. Additionally, AI/ML-based analytics can be used to analyze data and make suggestions for optimal supplier selection as described earlier.
This improves the speed and efficiency of standard supplier orders by reducing manual data entry and associated errors. It also minimizes the risk of disputes between retailers and suppliers due to manual errors.
Opportunity #7: Automated supplier/partner onboarding
Retail business can automate the process of gathering and validating the information and documentation from suppliers and partners using virtual agents, AI and RPA. Virtual agents can collect information and documents such as supplier contact information, certifications, and compliance documents. IDP can then be used to extract data from the documents which is fed to AI for validation. The validated information is then input into the internal systems by RPA bots. The automation can also track and monitor the status of the onboarding process and provide alerts if any issues arise.
By automating the supplier and partner onboarding process, companies can improve the accuracy and consistency of the information collected. Additionally, automating the process helps ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.
Opportunity #8: Automate order routing to warehouses/distribution centers
HuLoop’s intelligent automation can be used to automatically route orders to the closest warehouse or distribution center based on real-time inventory levels and shipping times. This is done by using RPA to read data from existing systems such as warehouse management system, inventory management system, and e-commerce platform. Then use AI/ML to detect demand patterns and forecast the inventory needs of each warehouse/distribution center. The bots then automatically route orders to the closest warehouse or distribution center based on current demand.
This helps retail businesses optimize the routing and delivery to minimize costs and improve customer service levels. Overall, it helps businesses improve their supply chain operations, streamline order fulfillment, and ultimately increase revenue.
This article highlights just eight ways that retailers could automate one aspect of their business—supply chain operations—but the automation opportunities across a retail organization are immense. If you found this article helpful and would like to know about automation opportunities in the areas of store operations, merchandising, customer service and more, please click here to download HuLoop’s “Retail Intelligent Automation Idea Book,” developed by Nandan Mullakara, founder of Bot Nirvana.
About HuLoop Automation
Based in the Sacramento, California area, HuLoop Automation offers an AI-powered, no-code, unified automation platform that helps clients drive transformation, and achieve revenue growth, cost savings, and productivity gains by automating mundane, repetitive activities that we don’t want our people doing.
This platform brings next generation hyperautomation innovation across several key solution areas: 1.) data driven process and task discovery, 2.) business process automation (BPA), 3.) robotic process automation (RPA), 4.) intelligent document processing (IDP), 5.) software test automation (TA) and 6.) intelligent data automation (IDA). HuLoop is used across the enterprise by both businesspeople and technology experts. Learn more at www.huloop.ai and follow HuLoop on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.