Retail Automation: How to Automate Retail Store Operations
Retail automation has become quite a popular idea across the globe (but don’t take our word for it) and artificial intelligence-driven retail automation is here to stay!.
When it comes to artificial intelligence-driven retail automation, this can include many different types of automating technology like, automated customer service tools, automated checkout systems and robotic inventory management software.
However, the process isn’t always straightforward when it comes to automating your retail store operations. When done correctly, automation reaps all kinds of benefits for all kinds of businesses across many different industries, including retail.
This is a complete guide on everything you need to know about retail automation – from the definition of automation, to how you can use it for your retail business, to the tools that will get you there.
What is automation in the context of a retail store?
Automation is the idea of integrating technology solutions into a business so that jobs that don’t require human effort can be completed. The goal of automation is to streamline a business’ operations and allow for more effective work delegation by clearly distinguishing what jobs require human intervention and what doesn’t.
In the context of retail, automation means using technology such as point of sales software to complete retail related tasks without the requirement for human staff to exert extra effort unnecessarily.
What are the benefits of automating retail store operations?
Automation allows retail businesses to;
- Reduce labour costs by removing tasks that don’t require manual labour
- Ensure consistency in task completion
- Limit the possibility for human error
- Allow employees to focus on improving their customer service
- Scale their business a lot more easily
- Improve employee morale by removing unnecessary grunt work
How can I implement retail automation into my business?
Retail automation doesn’t stop at a single element of a retail business. Instead, to successfully automate your retail business, there are multiple things you have to address, all of which are equally as important.
These elements include:
- Inventory management
- Point of sales
- Employee scheduling
- Customer relationship management (CRM)
To achieve this, all you have to do is find the right software that has the functions that we will discuss in the following sections;
Step #1 – Automate inventory management
Back in the days of doing everything with paper and pen, keeping track of inventory was an arduous experience. Nowadays, there are software solutions available that can make this process infinitely easier.
What you have to do is find a software application that allows you to;
- Store your inventory on a digital database to be accessed whenever
- Integrate with barcode scanners or QR codes to quickly identify physical items
- Give alerts in the event that stock needs replenishing
- Compile reports that show trends in stock levels
Automating your inventory comes with many benefits, including;
- Constant real time information on stock for both you and your customers
- Ensuring the accuracy of your inventory information
- Instant updates on stock information after purchases, etc.
Examples of Inventory Management software include Cin7 Overdrive, inFlow, Lightspeed Retail, Upserve and Megaventory.
Step #2 – Automate point of sales
Transactions make a business. If you’re not making transactions, you’re not making a profit. Automating your point of sales makes the process both easier and safer, so it’s important that you can find software that;
- Processes your transactions
- Creates records of your sales that can be accessed at any time
- Integrates with multiple payment methods
- Allows you to implement specials for certain customers
- Compiles data on sales trends into reports
Point of sales is important to automate because it plays heavily into customer service. If customers find the experience of purchasing from you a chore because it takes too long, it’s subject to errors or it’s just not pleasant – they will make their displeasure known and it will cost you business.
Examples of Point of Sales software include Square, Quickbooks, ERPLY, Bindo and Shopify.
Step #3 – Automate employee scheduling
Meeting the needs of your employees is as important as meeting the needs of your customers. Automating employee scheduling is a good way to do that, as it involves creating an environment where employees can work unimpeded with software that;
- Allows you to set times for employee shifts
- Makes all scheduling information accessible for employees
- Confirm employee attendance and log their hours
- Implements schedule changes quickly and easily
- Alerts you in the event of discrepancies between shifts
- Creates data so you can see trends in hours spent working
There are many benefits to this kind of automation. For example;
- Employees are ensured they can get enough shifts
- You’re ensured that your employees are attending their shifts and completing tasks
- Changes in scheduling can be made with minimal problems
- Employees can always be alerted in advance regarding when they’re expected to work
When it comes to employee scheduling software, you’re not going to find better than Operandio.
Step #4 – Automate customer relationship management
Thanks to advancements in technology, customer relationships don’t end once they leave the store. If you’re not interacting with customers in the storefront, you’re doing so online via your website, emails, phone texts and social media.
CRM software makes this process infinitely easier by allowing you to;
- Store customer contact details
- Create and send personalised messages, even with templates
- Track statistics related to customer engagement on your website and social channels
There are many benefits to automating customer relationship management, all of which revolve around creating an experience for customers that is more friendly and amenable. Engaging your customers when they are outside of your store lets them know they’re on your mind. The more positive the experience, the more likely they’ll return to you for a purchase.
Examples of CRM software include monday, Zendesk, Pipedrive, Salesforce and HubSpot.
Step #5 – Automate accounting
Finances take up a huge portion of a retail business’ priorities and for good reason. You’re trying to make money, after all. You need to make sure that your expenses aren’t overshadowing the money that’s coming in.
To automate your accounting you need software that is able to;
- Record and store your business purchases and sales
- Balance your books
- Create and store all financial documents
- Update information quickly and accurately
- Record trends in your finances
- Send alerts when there are discrepancies in your finances
Automating your accounting has many benefits for your business, including;
- Allowing you to stay on top of your business’ finances
- Identifying and alerting you to problematic expenses that affect your capacity to make a profit
- Ensuring your accounting practices are compliant with Government regulations
Examples of accounting software include NanoNet, Intuit QuickBooks, FreshBooks, Melio and Pabbly.
Can Operandio help me automate my retail business?
Yes! Operandio has many of the functions that you need to automate your retail business, including a;
- Library of checklists that help you delegate and track employee tasks, no matter what your industry
- Progress tracker that helps you identify when tasks are being completed, and why when they’re not
- Comprehensive knowledge base, so that you can store all of your procedures where they can be accessed by your employees when needed
- Communication tools so that you can easily and unobtrusively contact your employees and deliver feedback when needed (and vice versa)
Request a demo for Operandio today, and automate your retail business.
Frequently Asked Questions About Retail Automation
What types of automated technology are commonly used in retail automation?
Some of the types of automated technology used to automate retail businesses include:
- Automated checkout systems
- Automated customer service, such as online chat widgets
- Automated or robotic inventory management software
Is retail automation cost-effective for businesses?
Retail automation can be cost-effective for retail businesses, as it can significantly reduce labour costs, which is often one of retail business’ largest expenses. By removing time-consuming tasks that do not require manual labour, and replacing them using automation tools or software, a business can save money, especially in the long-run.