Time is of the essence in retail, where customer demands rapidly change, competition is fierce, and disruption is constant — making automation a necessity for any retail business to survive and thrive. This is especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic. Retail has had to re-invent the shopping experience in stores, implement curb-side pick-up, and pivot to online sales models. Based on changing government guidelines, retail outlets have had to change processes and employee protocol. According to McKinsey & Company, automatable activities account for nearly 40 percent of retailers’ time, and experts estimate that automation will add approximately $24.6 billion in value to the retail industry by 2025. While the challenges of digital transformation and applying automation technologies to business processes can seem daunting and out of reach for businesses without an army of engineers, that’s not the case with Google Cloud’s AppSheet. AppSheet combines the power of artificial intelligence (AI) with the simplicity and democratizing power of no-code development to give all retail teams (even non-technical employees) the ability to quickly automate existing processes without having to write a single line of code. The AppSheet platform is designed to help retailers tap into automation opportunities so they can drive further efficiencies across their entire enterprise — from customer experience and employee retention to inventory management and timely marketing promotion. Over the next month, we’ll be spotlighting no-code automation use cases by industry — starting with this week’s focus on retail. Customer Retention In a hyper-competitive industry like retail, it’s not enough to make a sale. You need to win a customer’s business repeatedly. With no-code automation, you can put the optimization of your customer retention efforts on autopilot. Establish automated workflows to send customers loyalty points or discount codes after they make a purchase, share special holiday and birthday offers based on customer data, distribute feedback surveys after a store visit to show you value their business, and more. No-code automation makes it possible for any retail business to provide their customers a personalized, high-touch experience that wins their loyalty and drives greater customer lifetime value. Warehouse Management “Do you have any more in the back?” is a question familiar to most retailers — and one that can take an enormous amount of time to answer. With a custom inventory app powered by no-code automation, you can give your agents on the floor the ability to quickly check inventory right from a mobile device without having to venture into the warehouse. And if an item isn’t in stock, they can use the app to quickly check the inventory of nearby stores and locations to refer customers to another branch to make their purchase. That means fewer lost sales, less time spent searching for inventory, and greater clarity for your business — all of which leads to a more positive customer experience. Workforce Training and Compliance The retail industry is always changing, which means keeping employees up-to-date on company policies, technologies, and protocols can be a full-time job. AppSheet can boost your efficiency and help guarantee organization-wide compliance by automatically triggering lessons and training based on workflows and parameters. Whether it’s a regular quarterly update or a net-new course brought on by a recent merger, market shift, or new legislation, you can automate your workforce training so no employee gets left behind. And by smoothly integrating all that employee data and content, an automated process can also help your HR team quickly identify employees well-suited for promotion and career advancement to keep your most valuable team members right where they belong — helping your company succeed. Merchandise Planning Experts estimate that retailers spend up to 20 percent of their time on merchandise planning. Despite this, inventory forecasting, sales and promotions, and pricing can be fraught with unknowns and risks. But with no-code automation, retail teams (including non-technical workers) can use powerful predictive modeling and analytics to study past, present, and future trends in order to make better-informed decisions about their merchandise and surface insights and opportunities they may have otherwise missed. With Google Cloud’s AppSheet, retailers can take the guesswork out of merchandise planning — giving business leaders the ability to minimize exposure to risks while making sure products and promotions always hit the mark. Inventory Management Like merchandise planning, proper inventory management is key to making sure you always have enough of what customers want on-hand, without the excess supply. A custom app powered by AppSheet can provide a 360-degree view of your retail inventory. You can use the app to understand which items need replenishing, which to stop ordering, and which to markdown in order to move. AppSheet gives you AI-powered predictive technology so you can build in functionality to prepare for unexpected spikes and drops in demand based on past and future trends — all with zero coding skills. Accounting Don’t tell your sales team, but accounting is the lifeblood of every successful business. By automating financial workflows such as accounts payable and receivable, payroll, and expenses and procurement, you can dramatically cut down on waste while speeding up your ability to get what you need from partners and suppliers. In fact, Google Cloud’s AppSheet offers an Expensing and Procurement Sample App that you can easily copy, customize, and use at your workplace — right now, for free! * * * With Google Cloud’s AppSheet, retail leaders and employees everywhere can automate their most mission-critical business processes with zero coding skills and technical background. Getting started with AppSheet’s no-code development platform couldn’t be easier, so start your business’s digital transformation today!