Automation: A Growing Need Of Today’s Retailing Sector

One thing which is constant in business is “CHANGE” and those who adapt themselves with this change emerge as a survivor and those who do not, lost somewhere in the book of history or in the memories of people. It is true to said that “Change is the key to success for every business” and in this change technology plays an important part. It completely redefines the business. It helps in automating business system. Here we talk about how advanced technology helps the retailing industry.

Retail is the process of buying and selling goods/services to satisfy consumer‘s needs through various distribution channels to earn profit. Between two ends points of buying and selling multiple operations took place everyday involving number of transactions daily.There are two ways of managing records of these operations either manually or by computerized:-

Manuallymeans men‘s handling that is way of handling by mean of men, pen, paper etc. Manual operation is tedious, backbreaking and time consuming task. To take account of each and every activity and to maintain them accurately in book of records is a troublesome task in itself and the possibility of human error also cannot be denied. The levels of services in manual operation completely depend on the efficiency of individual.

Computerizedmeans handling daily retail operation by mean of computer system which completely wipe out the pen, paper work and increase efficiency and performance.

The two main area of retail operation i.e. Inventory and Billing demand significant chunk of time of retailer and also required systematic work and discipline to maintain accuracy and efficiency.

Lets us take a look on manual management of inventory and study how computerized system add ease and comfort in it:

1.Manually: Manual receiving of products includes identification, counting, data entry involving half of the staff members of the retail house. The mistakes in counting and data entry could also not be avoided and eat time and resources in order to fix that error.
Computerized: Using technology, barcode scanner which immediately identify products on its arrival and generate its complete detail. A huge work force need not be required they can focus on their customer, providing them best of their store service. It eliminates nearly all error involving in manual task.

2.Manually: Required material handlers to put product wherever there is s an open slot and write the location down on paper, so that they can go through this paper whenever required.
Computerized: Track movement of all material on screen and can easily locate the empty space and could ensure that everything is put on the correct spot so that warehouse will operate efficiently. It wipes out complete pen-paper work.

3.Manually:To know exact status of inventory during normal hours of business is cumbersome task and also add inconvenience to customer because staff members could not focus on their customer they would be busy in doing physical count of their product.
Computerized: Always be up to date with current status of business at any hour of day, no matter what get away or picked, inventory status will always remain up to date on computer screen .So no need to planning in advance to manage inventory even at the odd hours of business one can easily go through the status of inventory on his computer without any assistance .To top of it all, staff should be able to save of one-third of the time it takes to count all inventory location.

4.Manually: Worker have to perform cycle counts using paper forms which is complicated and interrupt order processing.
Computerized: Doing same thing over and over again, does not required at all. Any purchase and sale of product will automatically updated on screen, saving time, energy and resources.

5.Manually: There are chances of getting ripped off. The owner/ top management cannot be available anywhere at any time so such activities could not be tracked. At every passing second they couldn‘t go for hand counting of inventory so if someone steal something or get slipped away with some items it could not be tracked at all.
Computerized: With every addition or subtraction of product, statistical will change on screen. Management have clear visibility of their stock, so if any variation found it could be fixed at any second of a day.

6.Manually: Needed printed reports to figure out which slots need to be replenished and problem of stock out situation could also not be avoided.
Computerized: Just scan the product and the location to make sure that right item get into right pick slot. This way one get information that all pick slot remain adequately stocked with correct item. The situation of stock out and unhappy customer could be avoided.

Here is the brief comparison of two main areas of retail operation on the basis of manual and computerized being made:-

Inventory Management:

Inventory means maintaining sufficient stocks of goods so that business operates smoothly without any hurdle.
Manual operationComputerized Operation
1Labour intensiveSingle person job: Everything s on computer, huge work force for handling inventory does not required
2Human error possibilityNo room for such error.
3Hand count of inventory took a dayCan be done within a seconds/clicks
4Time consuming and efficiency of task depends on the capability of staff membersFast and efficient
5Instant documentation is not possible, require right person to respond Instant documentation, from purchase to sales order, to check Invoices everything on system
6Very difficult to track sales and stock figures at any time of a dayManagement unit can easily pull report at any time a day to find out how many product on floor, how many sold , which is out of stock and which selling fastest


Generation of bill is an important tool of accounting which is an intrinsic part of business. It demands high level of alertness and accuracy from person.

Automated system helps us to overcome with the flaws of manual billing

Manual billingAutomated billing
1Prone to human errorMinimize such errors
2Possibilities of duplication of data entrySystemization reduce duplication of data entry
3In case of mistake, manual calculation has to be completely redoneJust update

Time consuming: Checking,reviewing,going through multiple documents to locate information,consume time & EnergyTime saving: complete information on screen
5Book records are more susceptible to loss, damage by fire and waterReduce intensity of such losses. Years of records can be found on system if stored properly
6Possibility of dishonesty in preparing wrong bill entering incorrect data and figuresNo room for such possibility
7Wrong information of bill misinterpret the position of businessCorrect status of business can be known

Apart from these there are other general problems with which retailer face off daily like large ongoing staff training cost, system dependent on good individual, if thinking of expansion centralized management is not possible and having every bit details of transaction occurring in other branches cannot be estimated if going through manually but with the automated system we can overrule all this limitation and can grow and flourish.

But retailer still hesitates in automating their business.They have general thought that automation would add extra cost to its expenditure, the cost of: System installation, Software implementation, Maintenance cost, Training staff etc. But if we carefully look the aspects of Cost vs Benefit, later one has always upper hand. In fact we reimburse our cost by:

There are Pro‘s and Con‘s of every technology but as compared to limitations of automation the “Face and Pace” which it has given to the business is remarkable. We are living in the era where technology has progressed so much for the betterment of mankind, so,
“When we have technology to make our work simpler or easier than before, then why not to make it our tool”

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