A tale of two retailers: How automation took them to a “far better place”

Written by Jordan McMahon in Stories from the front lines on September 10, 2014

The retail industry is simply teeming with tasks and processes that can be automated. Data entry and migration, sales spreadsheet updates and issuance, inventory management...the list truly goes on and on. And when one retailer initiates an automation effort that yields significant gains, another should sit up and think, “Could we—and should we—do that too?” (In the world of automation, copycats aren’t only accepted, they’re encouraged!).

Such is the case for these two companies, a global travel retailer and a large hardware store chain. Here are their stories.

The travel retailer

Automating sales order processing

TA B2B travel retailer wanted to move from faxed and written orders to online ordering, automatically importing orders from the website into its sales order processing (SOP) module. To do this manually, one would have to open an application, click on “import orders” to bring the file into the system, check for errors, then process the orders. Online orders being processed at the rate of 300 per week would take a person approximately 10 hours a week to do manually. By automating this process, customer service personnel were able to focus on customer support instead of orders.

Automating order validation

With the success of that project, the company turned next to another process flagged as inefficient: the nightly validation process. All orders shipped each day needed to be validated in order to adjust inventory and complete invoicing—a process consisting of launching an Access program, importing files, and manually checking for duplicates or errors. Implementing RPA let them auto-initiate the process each night, and complete the job in 30 minutes.

The hardware store chain

Automating procure-to-pay

Procure-to-pay cycles are notorious for protracting cycle times, particularly when it comes to requisitioning and requisition approval, purchase order issuance and invoice receipt, invoice matching, and reporting. For one of the largest hardware store chains in the world, the procure-to-pay process was the burr in its side, particularly when it came to AP process stages including data collection from thousands of emails and FTPs through entry into ERP. Through use of RPA, the company was able to achieve an ROI of 800% in just 6 months. The success of automating this top-priority process gave the organization the opportunity to carefully assess what other areas could yield similar gains with automation.

NOTE: This site uses cookies and similar technologies.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn more

I understand

Cookies and How They Benefit You

Our website uses cookies, as almost all websites do, to help provide you with the best experience we can. Cookies are small text files that are placed on your computer or mobile phone when you browse websites

Our cookies help us:

We do not use cookies to:

You can learn more about all the cookies we use below.

Granting us permission to use cookies

If the settings on your software that you are using to view this website (your browser) are adjusted to accept cookies, we take this, and your continued use of our website, to mean that you are fine with this. Should you wish to remove or not use cookies from our site you can learn how to do this below, however doing so will likely mean that our site will not work as you would expect.

More about our Cookies

Website Function Cookies

Our own cookies. We use cookies to make our website work. There is no way to prevent these cookies being set other than to not use our site.

Visitor Statistics Cookies

We use cookies to compile visitor statistics, such as how many people have visited our website; what type of technology they are using (e.g. Mac or Windows, which helps to identify when our site isn't working as it should for particular technologies); how long they spend on the site; what page they look at, etc. This helps us to continuously improve our website. These programs also tell us how people reached this site (e.g. from a search engine) and whether they have been here before, helping us to put more money into developing our services for you instead of marketing spend.

Turning Cookies Off

You can usually switch cookies off by adjusting your browser settings to stop it from accepting cookies. Doing so, however, will likely limit the functionality of our and a large proportion of the world's websites as cookies are a standard part of most modern websites.