Automate your retail & logistics operations with Brightpearl & Stream so you can focus on business growth
Automation is sometimes hailed as a fix-all solution.
A ‘set-it-and-forget-it’ way to improve productivity, save time, eliminate mistakes, make more efficient use of resources – the list goes on.
But “not so fast,” you may be thinking “my systems and processes are far too complex, varied and bespoke to automate! It’ll never work – I’ll just end up with losing the flexibility and the personal touch that today’s businesses need to stay agile and competitive – and how much will it cost upfront to put automation processes in place?”
Okay, okay, you might not be thinking exactly that. But there are some misconceptions around retail automation that we’re here to clear up.
Use automation to free up resources – so you can use them for the things that matter – not remove them altogether
When we talk about automating your delivery and omni-channel retail systems, we’re not talking about replacing your entire workforce with robots and never touching the business again.
We’re just talking about automating repeatable processes and workflows – those manual admin tasks like order entry, inventory allocation, drop shipping, invoicing and fulfilment.
Automating those repeatable tasks gives workers more time and space to spend on the activities that do require a human touch.
Personal interactions with customers and quickly dealing with issues on a case-by-case basis, as well as focusing on growth activities, like sales development and marketing.
Automate the repeatable parts of your order-to-delivery process – and keep the rest human-to-human
So, what parts of your business could see improvements through automation?
Every day, you handle important customer data. By using separate, manual processes that rely on people, your systems are open to the risk of human error mistakes.
By collating customer, order and inventory information in secure, cloud-based and fully integrated systems, which automate information flow back and forth, you eliminate that risk of mistakes. You can also save the cost of time and resources sunk into monotonous data-entry tasks.
Automating the gathering and input of data can enable you to create a central hub of information – so you can manage everything all in one place. You can then use that information to enhance personal interactions, so the people answering queries and fixing issues can always access the information they need, wherever and whenever they need it.
Improving customer service
Every customer is different.
Automating information flow allows you to align your team so that, when multiple people are involved in customer touch points, the next person can pick up exactly where the last one left off.
All the information and history about each customer is right there and easily searchable. Customers can feel like they’re dealing with a single entity – there’s no need to repeat themselves.
You are also able to scale communications, so customers are automatically getting all the information and attention they need, and people only need to step in and handle orders or queries by exception.
Again, this reduces that risk of human error saves the time customer service staff may have spent manually contacting customers and improves customer service levels by proactively communicating with customers and giving everyone access to the information they need to efficiently handle any exceptions on a case-by-case basis.
By accurately tracking inventory, purchase orders, and proof-of-delivery, and syncing that information across multiple channels, you are able to make more efficient use of resources.
Automation can connect all the different parts of your operations, giving you full visibility. The increased accuracy brought about by automating things like inventory management can make for better forecasting and decision-making.
When everyone in the business is able to access reliable, up-to-date information about inventory and orders, they can answer questions and make decisions with confidence.
As those day-to-day processes are streamlined, the unnecessary costs associated with repetitive and manual admin tasks are removed, and you are able to move resources from data entry tasks into growth activities.
If a worker can manually enter 30 orders an hour into your system, what happens when you land that big contract and orders double? By automating those repeatable tasks (like order entry), your systems can scale as your business grows.
By choosing systems that can scale with you as your business grows, and automating the flow of information between systems, you can focus on business growth.
When the repeatable things are automated, those systems are scalable – and more time is left to interact with customers of a personal level, where and when it matters.
You’re able to scale business growth and handle larger order volumes, whilst offering the same personal service. In turn, those improvements in efficiency and that personal touch, leaves customers feeling that they’re treated well – increasing loyalty, recommendations and sales volume.
Improved efficiency means you are able to get more done with fewer resources – saving the administrative costs associated with manual systems.
Improved reliability of your service, along with the personal touch in customer service interactions where it matters most, can lead to loyal customers, recommendations and increased sales volume.
Those cost savings, efficiency improvements and increased order volume all give you time to work on growth activities, and the flexibility to scale with that growth.
But more than that, automation can improve cash flow by getting your bills paid faster too.
By integrating with accounting systems, you can automate the movement of information like inventory management, proof-of-delivery and invoices. That means that you can automatically trigger invoices and billing as soon as proof-of-delivery is uploaded by the driver.
Ultimately invoices are paid faster, and you can maximise cash within the business.
Making delivery matter
Customers these days expect high value-for-money, excellent service levels and speedy, reliable and professional delivery / fulfilment experience.
And that delivery / fulfilment experience does not have to be exclusive to retailers using shipping carriers.
We’ve discussed the importance of ‘Home Delivery in the Customer Experience Economy‘ previously.
For those retailers, distributors and wholesalers using their own vehicles to deliver orders, it is vitally important that the exceptional customer experience provided through the rest of the purchasing journey is simply forgotten through the final shipping stages.
Delivery and logistics is no longer a question of moving Item A from point B to point C, but has actually become an essential moment to connect with your customer – especially considering the final mile delivery team might be the only human contact your customer has with your brand.
Value that process as much as any other pat of your retail operation.
How to automate logistics operations with Brightpearl and Stream
With Brightpearl and Stream, you are able to automate operations with seamless integration by pushing information (about customers, accounts, orders, inventory and delivery management) back and forth between systems.
You can start to see the benefits of increased efficiency, growth and improved customer service almost immediately.
But we still haven’t addressed one of the main concerns you might have about automation: how difficult and time-consuming the transition to automation might be.
How quickly can you set up automation processes with Brightpearl and Stream? Maybe not as long as you’d think.
Multi-channel furniture retailer, Arthauss Furniture introduced retail automation into their business by implementing Brightpearl and Stream in just 24 days.
“Brightpearl was very easy to implement, we got up and running in just 24 days. Our implementation consultant was amazing and helped us make a smooth transition. We found the training process both efficient and professional.”
And the benefits of automation for Arthauss?
The seamless integration between Stream and Brightpearl makes it easy to automate workflows right across their retail operation – from order and dales processing, inventory allocation and finally the logistics operation.
Arthauss estimates that they’ve saved over 40 hours per week with automation with Brightpearl. Through Stream, Arthauss has been able to keep track of their logistics operation properly:
“Stream has shortened the time that drivers spend on the road and has minimized the risk of unforeseen delays. Stream send Brightpearl a tracking reference number for each delivery, allowing customers to track the driver’s route, and it transfers the driver’s delivery notes to Brightpearl so Arthauss can keep track of everything… auto-invoicing and auto-allocation [have] given the staff time back to focus on the post-sale customer service”
Ultimately, eliminating the labor (and risk of mistakes) associated with manually completing repetitive tasks allows retailers, distributors and wholesalers to free up resources to spend them where it counts: handling customer interactions and growing the business. In turn, automation facilitates business growth by allowing systems to easily scale and to handle larger volumes without additional resources.