When implementing the robotic process automation (RPA), Ibm stresses, you create bots that follow pre-set scripts to replicate the steps a human worker would do to complete a task in a software environment.

The key advantage of robotic process automation in the retail sector is that it allows human workers to pass repetitive tasks to bots, so that employees can focus on more creative, strategic and value-added tasks.

In a blog post, Ibm, in addition to illustrating the main features of robotic process automation, also describes its advantages in retail.

And it sets out ten possible cases of robotic process automation in retail.

As regards the advantages of RPA in retail, these can range from better customer engagement to more efficient inventory management; from reduction of errors to access to more strategic data; from cost savings to revenue increases.

10 cases of robotic process automation in retail

RPA • underlines Ibm • is more effective in automating tasks that are manual, repetitive, error-based and structured data-based, with few or no opportunities for human workers to add value.

It is also an efficient way of getting different systems to talk to one another.

These are some of the most common use cases of robotic process automation in retail, described by Ibm.

1. Automated supply chain management.

The procure-to-pay cycle depends heavily on accurate data and the preparation and exchange of numerous documents, Ibm underlines. To streamline the process, retailers can allow bots to copy data from supply chain management systems such as Oracle and Sap Ariba into standardised order modules.

RPA bots can also send orders through online portals, as well as help process invoices by entering data into accounting systems such as FreshBooks and Xero.

2. Automated inventory management.

The robotic process automation bots → continues the analysis of Ibm → can ensure that inventory databases are continuously updated. A bots without an operator could be programmed to run at the end of each day, using the sales data of each store to update records in inventory management systems such as Zoho Inventory or Square.

If it has artificial intelligence functionality, the bot could also determine when two slightly different names refer to the same product, thus eliminating transcription errors.

3. Supply and demand planning.

RPA bots can help retailers prepare the reports needed for broader and more strategic levels of supply and demand planning. Teams can automatically compile data from multiple documents and sources into a single spreadsheet using assisted bots for easy analysis.

If the robotic process automation solution can run multiple bots simultaneously, such complete reports can be generated in a moment.

4. Automated order management.

The robotic process automation can optimize the key components of the order-to-cash process. Unattended bots • emphasize Ibm • can be used, by script, to transfer information from ecommerce platforms such as Shopify to warehouse management systems such as Fishbowl, so that orders

Chatbots intelligent virtual agent (VAT) can also answer customer questions about the status of their orders, using RPA bots to retrieve the details required by the company’s order management system.

5. Facilitate analytics on sales.

L.R.P.A. can help retailers get more accurate insights into consumer behaviour, store performance and other critical data points.

Bots without operators could be programmed to regularly extract data from the POS system, such as NetSuite, and create reports for the company’s leaders, to review sales numbers, store performance and other trends.

6. Processing of returns.

The robotic process automation can facilitate returns 24 hours a day and with minimal human intervention. Smart chatbots and interactive voice response (IVR) technology can guide the customer through the return process.

While this is the case, RPA bots can work in the background to update inventory systems, customer registers, accounting records and any other system involved in the processing of returns.

7. Automated virtual agents.

Today’s omnichannel expectations Feature Ibm Features ensure that customers want to receive a service through any channel that is more convenient for them at the moment.

Chatbots can be available 24/7 for customer requests, and can use RPA bots to perform basic tasks for customers, such as raising answers to frequently asked questions. Chatbots can also act as a utility for customer service providers.

If customer service providers often have to deal with the same type of requests • how to reset a customer’s login credentials • can ask chatbots for help instead of performing the process manually. The chatbot, in turn, transmits the request to an RPA bot, which runs it.

8. Detecting fraud.

When fraud prevention teams come across suspicious orders, they can use RPA bots for support in the investigation.

Multiple bots can be run simultaneously to check a current order with respect to customer databases and other records, using artificial intelligence-based processing to identify any discrepancies that might indicate fraud.

9. Promotions tailored.

A robotic process automation bot can transfer data on customers’ previous purchases from a CRM like Salesforce to a marketing system like HubSpot, where these data can be used to segment customers for customized offers and advertising.

Lupin can also communicate with customers on customized offers through VAT and IVR chatbots, encouraging repeat business.

10. Employee Scheduling.

With many retailers relying on just-in-time programming for brick-and-mortar stores and distribution centres, robotics process automation can simplify the process.

An RPA bot can transfer data on employee availability from documents such as Excel and Google Forms spreadsheets to a planning software like Sling, where managers can use data to manage schedules.

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