Retail order processing has changed dramatically over the past 10 years, and today, the buzz is all about retail order automation - a true game changer in the industry.
At Deck Commerce, we're at the heart of this change, using technology to make life easier for retailers.
In this blog post, we'll explore the cost-saving benefits of retail order automation.
What is Retail Order Automation?
Retail order automation uses technology to manage and fulfill customer orders. Instead of manual data entry and hands-on management, the software does the work.
Imagine a system where everything from receiving an order to shipping it out is handled smoothly and efficiently – that's retail order automation.
The Challenges of Traditional Retail Order Processing
While the conventional approach to retail order processing has served us well in the past, it increasingly shows its limitations in today's fast-paced retail environment.
In this section, we will delve deeper into the specific challenges of manual order processing, illuminating why a move toward retail shipping automation might be necessary.
- Time Consumption: In a traditional setup, every order has to be manually entered into the system, tracked through fulfillment, and shipped out to the customer. Each step requires time and attention, which can quickly add up, especially when order volumes surge, such as during the holidays.
- Error-prone Processes: Humans, unlike machines, are prone to errors. This is especially true in complex, repetitive tasks like order processing. An incorrect entry, an overlooked detail, or a miscommunication can lead to mistakes that disrupt the entire order fulfillment cycle. These errors could result in the wrong products shipped, delivery delays, or even lost orders.
- Inventory Management Issues: Traditional order processing often struggles with real-time inventory management. This disconnect can lead to overselling, where customers can order items already sold out. This disappoints customers and creates extra work in handling refunds or backorders.
- High Labor Costs: With manual processes, labor cost is a significant factor. The more orders you have to process, the more staff you need. Not only are there wages to consider, but there are also training and managing, sick days, and turnover. Over time, these costs can become a significant drain on a retailer's finances.
- Customer Dissatisfaction: All the above challenges inevitably lead to one outcome - unhappy customers. Whether it's because of incorrect orders, delayed shipping, or poor communication, customer dissatisfaction directly results from inefficient order processing. And in today's competitive retail environment, unhappy customers can easily take their business elsewhere, leading to lost sales and damaged reputation.
7 Benefits of Retail Fulfillment Automation That Impact Your Bottom Line
Integrating automated systems into your retail operations can unlock considerable benefits, which we will analyze in greater detail below.
- Heightened Efficiency: With automation, you streamline your order processing, drastically reducing the time it takes to process an order. Automated systems can handle multiple orders simultaneously, work around the clock, and do not require breaks. This means you can process more orders, more quickly, improving your overall productivity and operational efficiency.
- Enhanced Accuracy: Automation minimizes human errors that can result in costly mistakes. An automated system precisely follows programmed instructions, ensuring that orders are processed correctly the first time. This reduces the need for time-consuming and expensive error corrections or order returns, saving time and money.
- Real-Time Inventory Management: Automated systems can be integrated with inventory management, providing real-time updates on stock levels. This helps to prevent issues like overselling and understocking, leading to more efficient inventory control and fewer disappointed customers.
- Cost Savings: By reducing errors, improving efficiency, and minimizing labor costs, retail order automation can result in significant cost savings. Automation means fewer resources are wasted on rework or damage control, and less time is spent on training and managing manual order processors. These savings can then be reinvested into other business areas to fuel growth.
- Improved Customer Satisfaction: Retail order automation enhances customer satisfaction. Faster order processing times, accurate deliveries, and a smoother overall customer experience can increase customer satisfaction. Satisfied customers are more likely to become repeat customers and more likely to recommend your business to others.
- Scalability to Meet Demand Spikes: Automated systems easily adjust to increased order volumes, allowing your business to scale smoothly. During peak sales periods like the holiday season, automation ensures that your order processing remains efficient and accurate. This means you can grow your business without worrying about the growing pains that often come with increased order volumes.
- Mitigating Labor Shortages: Keeping operations running smoothly in today's uncertain labor market can be a significant competitive advantage. With the ongoing labor shortages in retail, automation offers a much-needed solution. By reducing the dependency on manual labor for order processing, retail businesses can continue functioning efficiently despite workforce shortages. Automation allows you to manage and fulfill orders without interruption, ensuring your business meets demand and maintains high service levels despite labor force challenges.
The Future of Automated Fulfillment Processes & Shipping Operations
As we look ahead, automation will drive the future of retail order processing. Given the proven benefits and potential to revolutionize the retail industry, this trend is more than a passing phase.
In greater detail, let's explore how we expect the retail order processing world to evolve.
Embracing Omnichannel Fulfillment Solutions
With the rise of unified commerce, the future of retail order processing will see even greater adoption of omnichannel fulfillment solutions.
Consumers today interact with brands across multiple platforms - online, in-store, mobile, and social media - and expect a seamless shopping experience across all these channels.
By integrating with various platforms and streamlining order management, automated systems can help retailers meet these expectations, offering a unified and consistent customer experience. This omnichannel approach enhances customer satisfaction and opens up new avenues for sales, thus boosting revenue for retailers.
In an omnichannel world, the role of automation extends beyond simplifying processes to become an integral part of strategic business growth.
Widespread Adoption of Automation
A general trend toward digitalization means that automation will become the new standard in the retail industry.
Even small and medium-sized retailers, who might previously have been slow to adopt new technologies, now recognize the necessity of automated processes to stay competitive.
Advancements in AI and Machine Learning
The rapid development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) technologies is set to enhance retail order automation further.
These technologies can help make predictive analyses based on past trends, optimize inventory, and personalize the shopping experience, further improving efficiency and customer satisfaction.
Greater Integration with Other Systems
Seamless integrations between retail order automation and other systems such as a CRM, ERP, tax provider, fraud vendor, loyalty programs, and supply chain management will be more important than ever.
This will enable a more holistic approach to managing retail operations, further streamlining processes and enhancing data accuracy across all departments and channels.
Addressing Workforce Challenges
Given current labor market trends, retail order automation will become an even more critical strategy with increasing labor costs and shortages in many regions.
Automating routine tasks allows businesses to maintain operational efficiency and continue delivering excellent customer service despite labor market uncertainties.
Sustainability and Automation
As sustainability becomes a key focus in all industries, including retail, automation will play a crucial role. Automated processes often consume less energy than their manual counterparts and result in less waste, making them a more sustainable choice.
Evolving Customer Expectation
As customers become more familiar with the speed and convenience of automated processes, their expectations will continue to rise. Retailers that meet these expectations with efficient, reliable automated systems will be best positioned to succeed in this evolving landscape.
Make Retail Automation Cost Savings a Reality with Deck Commerce
Ready to save money with automated shipping solutions tailored to your business? Schedule a demo of Deck Commerce OMS solutions and make automated order fulfillment issues a thing of the past.