Between the added pressures of the pandemic, the changing demand and behaviors of consumers and the stress of supply chain and raw material issues, retail businesses today face an uphill battle like never before. The biggest question many are asking themselves is: do I see what happens when I stay the course, or do I find new opportunities to get a competitive edge?
For many of those choosing to adapt and optimize their operations, automation has been the key to unlocking their company’s potential. Could it be the key for yours too? Let’s see!
TOP BENEFITS OF RETAIL AUTOMATION
Working overtime without missing a beat
According to the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), robot sales are at a record high. While automotive has always been the largest buyer, 2020 revealed how much industries are changing. And in 2021, non-automotive orders represented 58 percent of total robot orders in North America with 6,618 robots ordered in Q4 alone—that’s 61 percent of the total units ordered!
Why such growth? Robots can help take the pressure off employees by handling repetitive or dangerous tasks. And even more than that, they can work longer hours without letting accuracy or quality control falter.
Building better workforces together
Labor is another big question mark for retailers. Between balancing skill needs with employee wants, it can be hard to find the right candidate for different roles—especially tedious, dangerous, or less challenging tasks. This is where robots come in. They can free up current employees to take on more rewarding or exciting opportunities while keeping all the other tasks chugging along. It doesn’t hurt that 20 percent of young people say the chance to work with robotics and AI would be a big draw for them to work for a .company.
Optimizing for efficiency at every level
Automation can not only help execute tasks for you, but different solutions can also learn skills and provide valuable insights for your business. Take artificial intelligence (AI) for example and its ability to connect your tech (or automation) to make smarter decisions based on data and inputs.
Saving on labor and resources
While the initial investment of implementing automation solutions can feel daunting for those who are new to automation, the truth is that the benefits far outweigh the initial costs. Plus, between optimizing production and pinpointing efficiencies, you can save money, time, and energy in the long run—not to mention setting your business up to scale for future successes. And to add to the good news, advancements have made many solutions more cost-efficient, modular, and widely available too.
HOW AUTOMATION IS USED IN RETAIL: 3 REAL-LIFE EXAMPLES
Curious how other retailers are putting automation to work for their stores? Here’s a look at three different examples that can be valuable case studies for any company in retail.
Grocery stores stock smarter
Autonomous mobile robots are being leveraged more and more in the grocery space to assist with inventory management, stocking shelves and even alerting staff or customers of anything important. Take Marty the Robot for example. This service robot uses imaging to detect spills or other hazards on the floor. But these robots can also be used to gather data on customer patterns, scan for low inventory, schedule deliveries and so much more.
Customer service gets five stars
There’s no one automation solution for every retailer, but there is one common goal. An amazing customer experience is a must for any business in the retail industry and customer service can play a big role in that experience. While many may still feel like human interaction is essential, the truth is that automation can be a perfect complement to humans. Take the Amazon Go stores that are completely automated to allow for quicker, smarter, and socially distanced “grab and go” shopping. However, you can always have people on the floor to assist as needed!
Warehouses fulfill orders faster
It’s no secret that e-commerce is booming. Whether retailers juggle physical and digital storefronts or only rely on the web, it’s never been more important to ensure your warehouses and distribution centers can meet the demand. Thankfully, automation has helped many companies pick, pack and ship goods at expedited speeds—without sacrificing quality or safety.
Ready to see what’s possible in retail? Join thousands of other industry trailblazers to see the latest in robotics, vision, motion control, AI and more at the Automate show on June 6–9 in Detroit, Michigan—for FREE. You do not want to miss this!
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