Intelligent Automation Delivers for Holiday Shoppers

Intelligent Automation Delivers for Holiday Shoppers

Pepper robot
Pepper. Courtesy: SoftBank Robotics

This year’s Cyber Monday hit an all time high at $6.6 billion, making it the largest U.S. online shopping day ever. Adobe predicts this will be the first holiday season the U.S. will break $100 billion in online sales. When it comes to online shopping, a 2016 retail survey by PwC found that Americans value convenience over anything else. From innovative delivery options to personalizing products, companies must use new technologies to remain competitive and operate at peak efficiency.

Now that the holidays are in full swing, retail and consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers will experience a higher volume of orders, deliveries and customer service queries compared to the rest of the year. The busy season brings an increasing pressure for retailers to meet the needs of consumers and for brand manufacturers to win over shoppers.

Experience shows that intelligent automation can not only help with the back office, but also enable topline growth. Warehouses using artificial intelligence and robotic process automation (RPA) to keep pace with the growing volume of orders save frontline employees from having to carry out processes manually. CPG manufacturers that adopt flexible machines and use a mix of software systems deliver the best products at a faster rate. Consumers can be matched with the right item through filters or quizzes, and have tailored experiences based on interests. Additionally, sales reps can focus on building stronger customer relationships and add new value solutions.

For example, Mall of America has launched a new chatbot on its website, mobile app, Facebook page and as an Amazon Alexa skill to engage with customers and provide faster service to holiday shoppers. As a physical extension of the chatbot, MOA is also using a humanoid robot named Pepper. The chatbot answers questions about attractions and events, as well as gifts and food recommendations based on the user’s location.

IKEA and Amazon are known for having automated warehouses that maintain the most efficient operations. Instead of making time-consuming walkthroughs of a warehouse, software robots monitor inventory and generate notifications when products and supplies are low. RPA is a valuable technology because it provides real-time reporting to determine optimal inventory levels based on demand. Automation makes it easy to access inventory levels at all times.

Human capabilities enhanced by technology increases productivity and moves the company toward building a new customer experience, not just providing customer service. This fusion of the virtual and physical supply chain will drive a transformation that ensures survival.

Brands that utilize automation technologies can spend more time planning and cultivating new experiences and product offers. Today, businesses must manage customer experience as a value add, and convenience is at the top of the list.

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