There’s no shortage of downsides to running a retail business through a market slump: there’s lower demand, higher prices and (lots of) extra stress, for starters.
But – *puts optimistic hat on* – there are opportunities, too.
Now is the perfect time to boost resilience, streamline complexity, improve service and cut costs where possible.
The best way to do all of those things? Automate!
Automating tedious manual processes in your business is a game-changer – we already know that Brightpearl’s Automation Engine saves the average retailer two MONTHS every year as well as cutting costs in half and reducing errors by 65%.
“The best way to reduce both complexity and cost as the economic climate bites is simply to automate as much of your operation as possible,” says Mark Hook, VP of Global Brand Marketing.
“Retailers should focus on automating everything from order fulfillment and returns, to inventory management, comms, shipping and accounting. It can have a significant impact on overheads, and can make fast growth much more manageable.”
Here are three things you should automate now, so you can come out on the other side of the downturn stronger than ever…
- Faster shipping
- Cheaper shipping
- More reliable shipping
That means retailers that want to stand a chance against giants like Amazon during the downturn have to streamline and speed up their shipping processes as much as possible. The best and easiest way to do that is by using automation.
With a powerful Automation Engine, merchants can automatically select a shipping carrier depending on the price, weight, or quantity of products – ensuring the most cost-effective shipping method is always used.
Custom automation rules can be set up to ship items in different ways depending on the sales channel they were bought on. Automated, channel-specific templates for packing notes can be set up and international orders can be flagged for additional attention or customization.
Automation workflows can even be configured to send orders using FBA (Fulfilled by Amazon), ensuring accurate requests are sent to avoid errors and fees.
Case study: trueCABLE
Cable and connector supplier trueCABLE saves 40 hours every month since automating its workflows.
Jessica Floyd, the brand’s VP of Marketing & Business Development, says: “Automation really is magic! There are so many areas of the business we no longer need to think about or touch. It means we can remain lean as an organization, despite our growth.”
2. Order fulfillment
- Less reliance on human resources
- More orders processed in less time
- Major cost savings
Fulfilling orders manually typically requires lots of people power. From printing and picking orders to packing and posting, a ton of manual labor can get used up by order fulfillment.
However, during a downturn especially, retailers must reduce their reliance on humans in large parts of the warehouse, while still ensuring that orders are picked and packed efficiently, safely and productively. That’s where automation comes in.
With automated order fulfillment workflows, you can get more orders out faster – even during busy periods. Conditions can be set based on a huge range of factors so that orders are processed in the best way – including an order’s stock allocation status, payment status, sales channel and product type.
Dispatch notes can be automatically printed, customer emails can be automatically sent and stock levels can be automatically updated. Even complex orders can be easily automated with options to enable partial fulfillment, trigger order splitting and use alternative warehouses depending on inventory availability.
If you have inventory across multiple warehouses, boost efficiency by routing orders to the best warehouse depending on factors including destination and content – reducing delivery costs and boosting delivery timescales.
Case study: Snap Supply
Appliance parts specialist Snap Supply saves 60 hours per week on order entry alone and the business is 3x more profitable since using Brightpearl’s Automation Engine.
Nick Ernst, the brand’s Co-founder, says: “It previously took about 10 minutes to manually process an order. Now, we can process 50 orders in that time. And because we’ve saved so much time, we’ve been able to improve our customer service.”
3. Customer comms
- Happier, more loyal customers
- Time saved
- Errors avoided
During a downturn, every customer counts – which means it’s especially important that you provide outstanding customer service, including communications.
Modern consumers want to be kept in the loop at every stage of their buying journey. They want to know their order has been placed, they want to know when it’s on its way and they certainly want to know if there’s any kind of issue or delay.
Without automation, maintaining such high levels of communication is virtually impossible. Even employing a team of customer service agents to provide comms isn’t foolproof – human errors get made, training is required to keep comms quality high and sickness or absence inevitably throws a spanner in the works.
Automating your post-purchase comms is the solution. With a powerful Automation Engine on your side, you can keep customers informed based on real-time sales data.
Emails and notifications about everything from invoicing, back in stock products and delays can be done automatically, simply by setting a few rules (don’t worry, you don’t need to do any coding).
Case study: Honour
Fetish clothing brand Honour saves more than 100 hours every month thanks to Brightpearl’s automation functionality.
Joe Xuereb, Director at Honour, says: “We now automate all of our invoices, orders and shipping processes and we’ve seen a major impact on the speed and efficiency of our operation, while transforming our customer service. We’re really, really pleased!”