Recession-Proof Retail with Intelligent Automation
Guest Blog by Ken Claflin, Senior Client Partner at Wizeline
Inflation and the looming potential of a recession are impacting consumer spending, while at the same time, labor shortages are driving up operating costs. These dynamics are putting retailers under significant pressure to identify ways to maintain margins. During previous downturns, retailers largely exhausted the impact of traditional cost-reduction programs, leaving companies challenged to find new ways to preserve profitability.
To achieve this in today’s environment, leading retailers have begun using intelligent automation to identify and execute on cost containment and margin improvement opportunities previously not available to them. These leading retailers have recognized intelligent automation benefits can be achieved beyond its historical focus on back-office cost reduction and process optimization. They are now using these tools to seize on front-office opportunities in the areas of merchandising, marketing, and supply chain. In fact, intelligent automation is being used to perform complex analysis and real time adjustments that are creating sustainable margin improvements.
Fortunately, today’s integrated intelligent automation platforms have addressed the historic challenges of human interaction, as well as the burden of legacy systems. Early RPA systems sought to “replace” workers through the automation of mundane tasks. Today’s leading providers, however, recognize the importance of the interaction between technology and the humans overseeing business processes.
A recent McKinsey study shows that “about half of the activities in retail can be automated using current, at-scale technology. While this number is alarming, the change will be less about job loss and more about the evolution of jobs, the creation of new ones, and reskilling. Only about 5 percent of all jobs can be fully automated with current technology, and automation will lead to the creation of jobs as companies invest in growth.” Recognizing this human to automation interaction within a single intelligent platform is a key differentiator for those solution providers competing in the intelligent automation marketplace.
A second key differentiator when evaluating intelligent automation is the ability to deploy without the need to upgrade enterprise systems or point solutions—or create or update APIs that can take weeks, months or in some cases, years. No-code/low-code automation platforms enable retailers to leverage “citizen developers”, or non-technical employees, to initiate and manage automations that leverage digital workers for mundane, repetitive tasks and free up employees for more high-value work. The result of deploying these digital bots is improved legacy technology capabilities and more efficient interaction between these systems.
While there are many automation technology options in the marketplace, retailers require an intelligent automation platform that can meet the unique business needs of a retail organization. Other key differentiators to consider when exploring a solution include:
- Does the solution offer integrated Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Intelligent Document Processing (IDP), Business Process Automation (BPA), Intelligent Data Automation (IDA) and Software Test Automation (STA) capabilities?
- Is the solution technology agnostic and can be used across an enterprise ecosystem?
- Is the solution powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning within a single platform?
- Does the solution provide process and task discovery to help identify potential automation opportunities?
- Can the system offer a single user interface for web, mobile and desktop?
The needs and challenges currently facing retailers are vast. But with today’s intelligent automation solutions, retailers can continue to maintain margins and even improve profitability by automating tasks and processes that don’t require human intervention—freeing up employees to focus on activities and projects that add greater value and productivity to the organization.
A version of this blog originally appeared on Wizeline.com.
About the Author
Ken Claflin is a retail and consumer brand technology strategist and digital product visionary. He has a talent for guiding companies through technology and digital transformations that enable profitable growth. His areas of focus includes digital & technology transformation; solution and integrator selection; implementation and integration assurance; merger, acquisition & divestiture IT due diligence; and omni-channel transformation.
Wizeline, a global technology services provider, builds and delivers high-quality digital products and platforms that accelerate time to value for leading consumer brands and retailers such as Walmart, Kellogg’s, Etsy, and Nike. The company focuses on measurable outcomes, partnering with their customers to automate industry-specific processes, mature data-driven capabilities with AI and ML, and improve user experience. Their adaptive teams provide the right combination of solutions, capabilities, and methodologies to deliver results while partnering with their customers’ teams to foster innovation through continuous learning. Wizeline is invested in doing well while doing good, striving to make a positive impact where they live and work. Their diverse culture of innovation, ownership, and community, combined with their Academy, creates an inspiring environment for talent to build long-term careers. To learn more about Wizeline, click here.
About HuLoop Automation, Inc.
Based in the Sacramento, California area, HuLoop Automation offers an AI-powered, no-code intelligent automation platform. This platform brings next generation hyperautomation innovation across several key solution areas like 1.) 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. The platform delivers significant revenue growth, cost savings, and productivity gains across it’s prestigious customer base. Learn more at www.huloop.ai and follow HuLoop on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.