Digital automation in the retail sector
The world has changed so much in recent years that the retail sector has found itself facing battles on a number of different fronts. Despite the upheaval of the pandemic, customer expectations are higher than ever: they want better service, more personalised experiences, and seamless buying journeys across physical and digital touchpoints. However, delivering on these expectations is increasingly being hampered by limited technological capability, pressures on staffing, and continued disruption within the supply chain. All of these issues mean that many retailers are looking to technology in order to find solutions.
What is causing these challenges?
To understand how these problems can be solved, it’s important to appreciate where the challenges have come from. In particular, the higher expectations of customers are driven by far more than just price: they want to deal with trustworthy and authentic brands, and they want to get consistent experiences every time they shop across every medium. Additionally, now that the pandemic has pushed more people into shopping online more often, they expect effective and efficient processes across desktop, mobile apps and customer service. A number of other problems, many of them technological, are holding this progress back. For example, legacy IT systems are still largely in use because training and development in the sector can be poor, and retailers would rather stick with what they know than take a perceived risk on innovation. At the same time, the consistent running of the supply chain is being hampered by shortages of HGV drivers and a lack of warehouse space to meet growing consumer demand.
Introducing Enterprise Service Management (ESM) for the retail sector
In order to meet customer expectations, retailers must break out of the mindset that adopting new technology is more risk than reward, and explore all the possibilities of automation. The most practical and effective way for them to do so is to adopt Enterprise Service Management (ESM). ESM blends human and automated processes in a way that allows processes to run in the most effective, streamlined ways possible. The concept is based on the principles of IT service management, with the main focus being on making all processes faster, more reliable and quicker to complete. From a retail perspective, the consistency that ESM can apply to processes can help ensure that customers get quality experiences every time they shop with a brand. For example, automated chatbots that cover common queries can ensure that they always get fast and dependable answers to their questions.
Benefits of ESM for retailers
With a good ESM solution in place, retailers can start to explore a range of benefits and innovations that they’ve missed out on for so long, including:
- Better operational efficiency: tasks like processing and dispatch can be completed much quicker, without human error, and can operate 24/7 to improve delivery times for customers
- Easier digital adoption: enable simpler integration of advanced online shopping experiences, and remove the complexity from managing and maintaining it
- More consistent training and development: automated processes can support a consistent onboarding process for new staff, and better coordinated training for existing employees
- Improved customer experience: more efficiency and consistency can generate faster service and support, and more personalised experiences. This can boost customer satisfaction, and generate more sales as a result
Prime use cases for digital automation
Retail is a very broad sector and so the possibilities for deploying ESM will vary significantly from retailer to retailer. However, these five use cases stand out as leading options for the majority of retail firms:
- Customer interaction chatbots: these can be made available 24 hours a day to assist with customer queries, parcel tracking, and even advice on styling
- On-trend stocking: automated analytics can measure customer buying trends, and deliver insights on how to optimise restocking
- In-store inventory check: customers can check the availability of an item they want from a particular physical store, then reserve it for collection
- Returns and refunds: automation enables easy and accessible tracking of returns, and processing of any refund due
- Personalised marketing: abandoned baskets or tracked web activity can be followed up with automated emails with offers tailored to the individual customer’s preferences
ESM can be an enormously powerful tool in solving some of the challenges facing retail, and mitigating the effects of some of the others. It can be difficult to understand how best to apply automation for maximum effect, but that is something that a third-party expert can help with. Retailers just like you have partnered with SCC for several years to achieve their goals and solve emerging challenges with automation. Take a closer look at what we can do for you here.
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