The retail industry has been functioning traditionally for many years now. It took quite some time for the eCommerce platforms to make a mark. However, there are a few challenges eCommerce platforms are facing. Customers are seeking an in-person shopping-like experience on eCommerce platforms. Though technologies like AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) are emerging to provide a store-like shopping experience online, there is still a long way to go.
Coming to the retail stores, this is the other way around. Shoppers do not want to wait in long queues to make the bill payment. They want all the products under the same roof with the stock in place and expect the price to be reasonable. On the other hand, retailers are under tremendous pressure because of the competition and turn-around time. With the growing demand, retail stores have no choice but to seek technology for some solution that can help them meet customer expectations.
The transformation has never been easy. Adopting technology to automate and optimize retail operations has been making a buzz for some time now. A few big players have initiated the experiment and still trying to find a way to automate end-to-end retail operations. There are a few challenges that still need attention to achieve automation.
- Lack of awareness of emerging technologies – Technology is not something that everyone understands. There is a communication gap between the industries. Addressing this and implementing the solution is the need of the hour. Moreover, opting for the right technology solution is also a challenge.
- 100% automation in retail, a myth or reality? – There are plenty of scenarios in retail operations where adaptive intelligence is required. This is the major drawback of the technology. Machines can be trained to do certain routine tasks, but humans can apply their intelligence to quickly respond to a new scenario. Moreover, business processes differ from one business to the other.
- Technology has blind spots – Technology can sense and analyze situations only when trained or when they are identical. For example, a barcode scanner at the checkout area cannot identify the barcode on an item if it is not exposed to the camera. Shoplifters can take advantage of this situation. Similar to this, there are many scenarios in the retail industry where a human can perform better than technology.
A collaborative approach between the human workforce and digital solutions is the only way industries can achieve success in automation. It is not restricted only to the retail industry. Working in silos is not even a question today. Every industry and business should start communicating to help each other and scale. A transition from robotic automation to intelligent automation is the need of the hour, and this can be achieved only with awareness and an innovation mindset.