Inventory shortages. Supply chains in disarray. Consumers’ desires for immediate gratification. The shift to direct-to-consumer (DTC). Retail was certainly disrupted by COVID-19. The “new normal” requires retailers to respond with sophisticated technical, business processes, and cultural solutions.
Hyperautomation is a word that is increasingly being heard in retailer management circles. It was one of Gartner’s Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2022. But what is hyperautomation?
Gartner defines hyperautomation as “a business-driven, disciplined approach that organizations use to rapidly identify, vet, and automate as many business and IT processes as possible.” It includes numerous different types of technologies and tools, including artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, event-driven software architecture, robotic process automation (RPA), integration platform as a service (iPaaS), low-code/no-code tools, and other kinds of decision, process, and task automation tools, according to Gartner.
The hyperautomation market will reach $596.6 billion this year, according to a new forecast from Gartner. This is up from $481.6 billion in 2020 and a projected $532.4 billion this year.
RPA key to hyperautomation
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is hyperautomation’s foundational technology. By repeatedly performing digital tasks--either on their own or with a human in the loop—these software robots (“bots”) can interact with business applications the way people do. Although the technology is built by mimicking user behavior, it processes faster than humans and eliminates errors. RPA is critical to get right when hyperautomating.
In this blog, we’ll show you seven of the ways that hyperautomation is transforming retailers—going beyond rebounding from the pandemic to proactively moving ahead strategically to drive future success.
1. Personalize the customer experience
Everything in retail is being personalized to the nth degree. But in a new normal where refrigerators are smart and connected enough to remind you to pick up more butter on your next shopping run, retailers can’t afford to spin up generic online ads, emails, or texts that will just be shrugged off as spam. With hyperautomation, retailers can collect data about their customers (and prospective ones) across all channels, consolidate data from previously unreachable data silos, and analyze them using AI tools to really know them. Then, they can automatically serve the right reminders, emails, and ads at the right time to the right people to push sales upward.
2. Forecast demand
As with personalization, the data that is generated or collected via hyperautomation is invaluable when attempting to do demand forecasting. By designing sophisticated AI algorithms with built-in machine learning, retailers can collect and analyze customer data in real-time. More importantly, they can use predictive analytics on this vast amount of data to forecast demand for individual products segmented in any way they like. Forecasting demand in this way makes it easier to cope with supply-chain disruptions and improve customer relationships.
3. Maximize the customer lifetime value
Hyperautomation can also help with maximizing customer lifetime value by integrating data across all channels: online, brick-and-mortar stores, and mobile. Today’s consumers use whatever channel is most convenient for them. If they switch devices or channels in the middle of transacting business with the retailer, they expect the conversation to continue. Retailers need to figure out ways to transform this non–linear footprint into a seamless, omnichannel experience. Hyperautomation can ensure that customer data and records are replicated across all communication channels and that it’s clean, reliable, and up to date. Otherwise, retailers lose the benefit of potentially powerful data and risk lost revenue and reduced customer lifetime value.
4. Re-design store layouts
As consumers are beginning to venture out of their homes, online sales are still rising, but retailers still need to find ways to lure them back into their physical stores.
Hyperautomation doesn’t just make it easier to forecast customer demands. It also makes it easier to adjust your store layout for maximum efficiency and impact. A well-designed store can be a competitive differentiator. Rather than a generic, traditional uniform store, you can infuse hyperautomation into every aspect of it, from displaying detailed information about products—and availability—available through bar codes on the shelves, that are integrated with inventory management and updated in real-time.
Hyperautomation also can give retailers real-time insights into how many customers they have each day, as well as what they buy, so retailers can reorganize their stores. They can also use hyperautomation to segment aisles based on customer demographics and purchasing behavior to manipulate the flow of consumers through the store, perhaps even nudging consumers toward higher-ticket items.
5. Develop new products
Larger retailers often develop their own products. To do the market analyses, they need to process huge volumes of customer, demographic, and economic data. The biggest issue here is the trustworthiness of the data. Is it high quality enough to make major decisions on? Hyperautomation technologies can help with identifying your key data sources, ensuring it is clean and of sufficient quantity to depend upon. Creating new products also needs retailers to do intense collaboration across multiple departments, including R&D, manufacturing, and all the marketing functions. Hyperautomation eliminates data and process silos.
6. Price products dynamically
Retailers can also experiment with dynamic pricing when using hyperautomation. The RPA and AI together allow them to do real-time analyses of competitive pricing, inventory costs, user sentiment, and even trends on social media, in addition to knowing what individual consumers have been up to on your site, allowing you to adjust pricing on the spot automatically.
7. Empower customer support teams
AI-based chatbots are becoming valuable adjuncts—or even replacements—to customer support teams. Rather than simply responding with pre-defined answers to anticipated queries, hyperautomation enables them to provide more relevant information to consumers. By using chatbots, consumers can get updates on their order status or resolve payment issues 24/7, while RPA bots can extract data and send feedback to marketing or sales databases.
Why hyperautomation is retailers’ way forward
To take advantage of hyperautomation, retailers should focus more on their customers and their unique needs. Instead of just continuing with the status quo, retailers should use these exciting new technologies to transform the entire customer journey.