From Strategy to Shelf: Introducing Automation in Retail

Written by 
Dee Set Staff
12 July, 2023

There's no question that over the past ten years or so, technology in retail has transformed the industry - and automation in retail takes a huge slice of that particular pie.

Marketability is no longer measured painstakingly in brick-and-mortar stores or fulfilled with pen and paper - thanks to the boom of the e-commerce sector and customer demand, digital technology is making its mark. 

As such, the retail industry is undergoing a significant transformation, driven by advancements that means business process automation is likely here to stay.

Intelligent automation, in particular, has emerged as a very powerful tool for brands and marketing managers to streamline operations, enhance efficiency, and deliver exceptional customer experiences.  

This is helpful, as the ultimate goal of automation is not to take over the world a la Terminator - sorry, Sci-Fi fans - but to drive business to new heights, with the added bonus of reducing employee burnout in the process.

In this guide, our experts will explore the various aspects of automation in retail and highlight its benefits, and implementation strategies.

We'll even touch on how we can help if you're really in a bind.

It's a Dee Set thing

At Dee Set, we're all about balance.

That means we embrace automation while carefully balancing technology with human expertise, giving brands big and small the best of both worlds.

Our research and relevance in this rapidly changing world have made us leaders in the industry, with plenty of big stats and bigger brains under our caps to prove it. 

Get in touch with our team today to see how we can help your strategies go... well. Into the stratosphere!

But first, our feature presentation: let's find out more about automation.

Understanding Automation in Retail

In a nutshell, automation in the retail industry refers to the use of technology and software to perform tasks and processes that were traditionally done manually by employees in the dark ages. 

Or the early 2000s. 

In simpler terms, automation takes time-consuming, error-prone, and repetitive tasks out of the hands of humans and passes them over to retail tech. 

This means intelligent machines and programs like inventory management software are now stepping up to the plate to improve the retail experience for everybody: both customers and staff alike.

By leveraging retail automation, businesses can free up their employees' time and energy to focus on more valuable and strategic activities, while new systems can handle routine and mundane tasks as part of workflow automation.

Spotting retail automation solutions in the wild

Automation in retail is not a recent thing, as many modern retail marketing brands are already using these solutions to increase their market share.

Some of the main examples of automated services used within the retail automation market at the moment include:

  • Self-checkout systems - Most supermarkets in the Western world use self-checkout terminals, allowing their customers to purchase items without having to wait in line for a shop assistant. Self-checkout kiosks are steadily increasing across the globe, with many non-supermarket shops now including them within their physical stores. By using checkout-free shopping technology, retail stores can make cost savings by reducing labour costs - this system also allows their staff to work in other areas within the business.
  • Inventory management software - Another avenue in which retail automation is now being used is inventory control. Inventory levels can be monitored remotely in real-time, creating stock alerts when your stock levels start to drop. You can also track items through the supply chain and automatically re-order products when stock levels are low.
  • Data analytics and predictive modelling - Modern retailers can use advanced analytics tools to analyse a vast amount of data over a small time period. This information can then be used to make data-led decisions, such as predicting stock shortages, forecasting future demand, and identifying trends.
  • Robotic fulfilment centres - Automated machines can be used to carry out manual tasks, such as order picking, packing and shipping within warehouses. As well as reducing costs, these machines may also reduce the time it takes to complete these tasks.
  • Interactive displays and digital signage - Another example of how intelligent automation software can benefit your business is through the use of digital signage and interactive displays. Targeted advertising, personalised promotions, and product information can instantly be delivered to potential customers. You can also improve the customer experience this way.

Let's talk benefits

In many cases, retail automation technologies are helpful for business activities because they let you delegate dull tasks to the tech.

This means you and your team can crack on with more important issues, such as reactive solutions when certain things crop up - which is just one of the benefits of automation.

But there are a myriad of other uses, which makes automation a useful tool for any business' box.


Increased efficiency and productivity

Time is money. Or something like that.

Luckily for us, automation reduces manual errors that often come with the copy-and-paste nature of continuous tasks - especially on the shopfloor and within inventory. We're only human, and that often means accidental additions or mislogging which take seconds to do and hours to unpick. 

Automation helps speed up processes as well as freeing up employees time, allowing them to focus on higher-value tasks that need quicker responses. 

It also helps minimise operational costs, optimise inventory levels, reduce waste, and improve overall resource allocation - which is music to the ears of anyone balancing the books. 

Improved data insights

Of course, automation doesn't just smooth out the most crucial parts of the customer journey and make things smarter for staff. It also provides ample opportunity for data collection, giving brands invaluable insights into their customer base - allowing for the creation and collation of real-time reports and trackers. 

In addition to inventory management and product forecasting, this data can help brands make intelligent decisions about their retail operations. 

From data-driven decision making to optimised pricing strategies, automation can simply feed timed findings straight to your fingertips without any human intervention. 

It's a bit like when robot butlers were a thing. But better. 

Customer satisfaction

It's clear to see that customer demand has changed over the last three years. They want things fast and they want them now, which is where automation can majorly come in clutch.

Technology can automate a number of practices that would usually take up precious minutes - which is almost criminal to the modern consumer - and there's no better place to integrate them than in automatic checkouts or EPOS.

As well as common automation, we can also use it to facilitate seamless online and offline experiences, in addition to 24/7 customer support through chat bots or virtual assistants.

Because every little helps, right?

How to involve automation initiatives in your strategy

There’s no such thing as ‘one size fits all’ in analytics, data and automation. 

However, your strategies will most likely benefit from some form of automation, whether that’s in a workflow capacity or to help smooth over some of the ‘stickier’ parts of customer interaction - such as transactions. 

First port of call is to conduct a thorough analysis of current processes to decipher pain points. From here, you can see which areas will benefit the most from automation.

Tech can really go the extra mile when it comes to integration and scalability, so start small and work with existing systems. 

That way you can ensure changes can be introduced quickly and smoothly, accommodating future growth and changing needs as required.

One of the main joys of retail technology and automation is that you can find traces of it across every inch of your dominion.

From EPOS systems and granular data collection to inventory management and field sales solutions, it can help brands and retailers meet customer demands exactly where it's needed - without so much as breaking a sweat. 

Nice one, numbers. 

Got your attention? Talk to Dee Set. 

Automation has become - and is set to grow as - an integral part of the retail industry, offering numerous benefits to brands, marketing managers, shelf stackers and box-tickers.

By embracing automation, businesses can streamline processes, optimise resource allocation, enhance customer experiences, and stay competitive in an ever-evolving market - something we can help with! 

At Dee Set, we’re experts at maximising the impact of retail activities in stores. 

From promotional displays to availability checks and stocking tactics, we'll give your brand  all the information you need to make the most of your floor and shelf space, using shelf-edge insights and image recognition technology to supercharge your strategy!

If you’re ready to start maximising the impact of your promotions, increasing sales, and driving higher revenue, get in touch with a member of the friendly team here at Dee Set!

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