how-to-know-when-and-where-to-automate-your-processes

Automation is increasingly essential for businesses to be able to offer customers the quick shipping times, low costs and excellent service they have come to expect. Because of this, automation is the new standard… and as each year passes, a growing number of retailers opt to save time, money and valuable floor time by automating their back-of-house processes.

In fact, MH&L reported that in 2017, 62 percent of companies used pen and paper to track their manufacturing steps… yet this number is expected to drop down to one in five by 2022. Implementing an automation strategy now puts your company in an advantageous position to immediately benefit from the savings and expedient workflow that mechanization makes possible.

Admittedly, it can be difficult to know where to start once you make the decision to automate some or all of your company’s processes – but it doesn’t have to be as overwhelming as it may seem. To help, consider the following to learn what steps to take to begin the automation process your company can benefit from.

Keep it simple… in the beginning

Let’s get straight to the point here.

Automating your back office processes is a great place to start since – quite frankly – it will free up employees to focus on your customers. Repetitive back-of-house processes such as inventory management, warehouse operations and financial reporting are often where employee errors can be the most costly to recover from, so this is even more important to consider. In fact, up to 80 percent of operational costs can be tied up in your back office. Since processes that are easily automated are often the least coveted tasks in any retail operation, you will face less employee resistance by starting with your back office processes first.

Once employees begin to see the benefit of your automating repetitive daily tasks, they will be more receptive towards branching out into automating functions such as purchasing, suppliers and omnichannel marketing. It is important to stress to employees that the goal of automation is to increase their efficiency and job satisfaction – thus, so that your business as a whole can run more profitably. Combined, these reasons can ease the fear some employees have with automation and meanwhile gain continued confidence in your team to do their best.

Reduce the time it takes to implement

One of the biggest obstacles towards retailers integrating their back-of-house processes is the time it takes for full implementation. While most business leaders are aware of the benefits of incorporating automation into their existing strategy, some companies can’t afford to have a solution provider interfering with their day-to-day operations. This is especially true when you consider that it takes an average of 420 days to set up a typical ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) solution. The key word here, however, is typical.

You don’t need to sacrifice customer service and profitability while you undergo a lengthy set-up process for ERP. By partnering with a cloud-based solution provider, you can automate your workflow with significantly less disruption to your daily operations. In fact, Brightpearl’s average implementation time is just 90 days, which is less than a third of that of the average solution provider. This means you can get set up and start saving time, money and valuable resources with your new software in less time than with traditional ERP providers.

Just listen to what Kasia Konwinska from Arthauss Furniture has said:

"With Brightpearl’s support, we got set up in just 24 days; automating several time-consuming processes and putting all of our orders and inventory in one place. With Brightpearl up and running, we spend far less time on admin and have more flexibility with our resources."

Integrate your automated solutions

It is more difficult to reduce error rates and conserve resources with automation if your back-of-house processes are divided across multiple platforms. According to Multichannel Merchant, companies with automated voice picking and barcode applications have average error rates of less than 2 percent. As more technologies are implemented, that error rate is reduced to under 0.5 percent. This means that companies who successfully implement and integrate their back-of-house applications can significantly reduce costs and the number of customers lost from human or technological error.

Since inventory and operational details can get lost in the fray when you are operating your business on multiple platforms, it is more effective to use a single solution across all of your company branches. This enables you to manage all of your retail processes in one place, so you can increase efficiency and reduce error rates without your communications getting tangled up amongst multiple unnecessary technological solutions. Only automation solution providers that have the capability to fully integrate all of your back-of-house operational processes can support all your company branches functioning at maximum capacity.

Conclusion

It is essential to begin the process of automating your business functions in order to keep up with the ever-evolving technological landscape of the retail industry. Choose a solution provider that can help to streamline all of your operations on one easy-to-use platform. If you don’t have the time or resources to waste on a lengthy ERP implementation process, consider choosing a solution provider such as Brightpearl – which uses the cloud to reduce setup times so that you can get started saving time and money in no time.

Are you ready for a profitable peak season? It's time to find out!

Get more content like this direct to your inbox.

About the Author

Nicole Leinbach Reyhle is the Founder and Publisher of Retail Minded, a publication committed to supporting independent retailers through news, education and support, as well as the Co-Founder of the Independent Retailer Conference. Recognized for her expertise in independent retail, Reyhle has published thousands of articles about small business and is the Author of the book “Retail 101: The Guide to Managing and Marketing Your Retail Business” from McGraw-Hill. Additionally, Reyhle has contributed to Forbes, Fiverr, IBM and more, and has been the Spokesperson for Small Business Saturday from American Express since 2014. Learn more about Retail Minded at www.retailminded.com, at @RetailMinded on Twitter or at Facebook.com/RetailMinded.