The Benefits of RPA in Supply Chain

There are many benefits of the use of RPA (robotics process automation) in supply chain. Logistics management may need to justify implementing this particular software. RPA in the supply chain holds many benefits for those who use it to its full advantage. Some benefits of integrating an RPA solution include improved speed overall. Put the most difficult deliveries in the past with the use of RPA. In addition to the optimization of workflow to gain more speed in business, automation is ramped up to reduce operational costs, collaboration is enhanced, logistics service providers can more confidently provide real-time visibility, and pivot from reactive to proactive management by exception to prevent excessive costs.

 

Most importantly, the benefits of RPA in supply chain processes are not limited to single chatbots. They can be deployed to manage email inquiries, generate quotes, and much more. This gives logistics managers the ability to process shipments faster without sacrificing other aspects of the business. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of RPA in logistics and how this technology is reshaping the industry. 

 

1. Improved Speed in Workflows

 

One of the many benefits of RPA in supply chain processes involves improved speed in responding to quotes and customer engagement. Logistics and supply chain staff are buried in emails, documents, and inefficient processes.  

 

The average time it takes for a freight forwarder to respond to a quote request is 57 hours (that is if they answer at all – over 70% don’t).

Freight forwarders should not have to manually sift through emails or have anxiety in winning new customers or lose current customers due to slow response times, hunting down data lost in emails, or compiling Excel sheets just to respond to requests for quotes. 

 

When those in the supply chain, such as freight forwarders, implement robotic process automation they typically gain the following benefits:

  • Respond First: Be the first to engage customers and vendors across all communication channels including email, text/SMS, chatbots, web apps, and more. 
  • Increase Sales: When you respond quickly and with consistency your team is more efficient and confident, resulting in more customer acquisition and higher rates of retention.
  • Engage Customers: Instant response times give companies an edge over their competitors, leading to more wins and happier customers. For example, if a chatbot can easily answer a question on your website when a customer visits for things such as an update on sailing schedules.

 

2. Keep Profit Margins in Tact by Reducing Operational Costs

 

Another natural benefit of speeding up response times and relying on RPA to gain benefits in the supply chain is that operational costs are reduced by automating tasks such as putting together the paperwork and getting all the information you need to serve customers.

Freight forwarders are struggling to keep up with demand and respond to customers in time due to manual processes resulting in errors, less attention to detention & demurrage, and frustrated customers.

It shouldn’t be so taxing on your team to provide the best service for customers, but most likely, you are having to hire several team members, adding to operational costs, and resulting in a lower margin.

RPA helps protect profit margins for forwarders and others in the supply chain by giving more time back to your team:

  • Helping to reduce manual, error-prone human data collection.
  • Generating daily or hourly reports on container status updates.
  • Developing alerts for exceptions and changes in ETAs.
  • Identifying potential detention and demurrage fees. 
 

3. Stronger Collaboration 

 

More benefits of RPA in supply chain usage lie within its easy integration with existing software and processes. It is one of the more notable advantages of RPA utilization because it can use the same system as team members. An in-house strategy to build RPA tools takes many resources, but a prebuilt solution built specifically for logistics and supply chain workflows utilizes those existing software structures. That promotes faster time to ROI and when all the route, manual tasks are working in an automated fashion, it allows logistics service providers, like freight forwarders, and importers to collaborate on larger issues that are facing each organization.

 

4. Faster Data Collection for Real-Time Visibility

 

Increased visibility and real-time access to data form additional benefits of RPA in supply chain processes. Consider this. RPA boosts real-time visibility via track and trace, by capturing and entering data automatically, which effectively reduces errors of manual entry. This leads to better data collection with high-quality data that everyone can interpret and use. Automated email response bots also enable access to a larger quantity of data for analytics resources to leverage, and they can even be useful as automations for freight forwarders or other freight management parties to respond to incoming email requests. 

 

5. Ability to Scale Operations

 

Freight forwarders should be able to focus on high-level strategy instead of worrying about day-to-day operations and manual tasks. Forwarders and other logistics service providers want to scale operations and achieve specific outcomes for their business, but they are faced with many challenges that an automation solution, like RPA, solves. For example, many companies want to:

 

  • Improve productivity… but demand from customers on top of redundant tasks is holding them back.
  • Support Customers… but the team is struggling to provide it proactively.
  • Increase Conversions… but their team is not turning back requests for quotes in a timely manner.
  • Scale Business…but every time the forwarder onboards a new customer, especially big ones, theyhave to hire more people, slowing down operatoins and hampering growth.

 

The benefits of RPA in the supply chain provide the confidence and backdrop to scale and grow.

The automation that comes within the RPA Labs’ RPA Engage suite to scale provides a path to these benefits. Let’s take a look at the functionality:

  • Logistics ChatBot: RPA Engage fully integrates Chatbots with existing systems to provide instant, accurate responses to customer inquiries throughout all your chat channels. 
  • Email Response Bot: RPA Engage directly integrates through email to answer customer inquiries, eliminating email inboxes up to 80%. 
 

Tap the Benefits of RPA in Supply Chain and Boost Your System Today

If teams budget for automation, they can tap into the benefits of using RPA in supply chain workflows more easily. These benefits are simply too great to ignore and can reduce the hassle of manually sorting through and responding to email as email response bots or perform other activities.  Connect with RPA Labs to schedule a demo to see advanced RPA in action.

Top 5 Use Cases of RPA in the Supply Chain

Many businesses spend years building their management systems and platforms. The value of using RPA in supply chain processes is often overlooked due to the nature of “traditional” maneuvers within the supply chain. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) delivers changes to shipping schedules efficiently, decreasing the chance of delays. RPA can also handle customer needs or automate and consolidate data entry and enable faster shipping.  Additional benefits include streamlining order management needs and identifying weaknesses within the supply chain. 

1. Management by Exception for Delays or Changes to the Shipping Schedule

RPA in supply chain operations is beneficial for shippers because management can be notified immediately when changes are made to the shipping schedule. Changes in the schedule can lead to costly delays and even cause businesses to lose customers. TechTarget.com states, RPA can improve supply chain management and logistics by automating repetitive time-consuming tasks such as data entry, in turn improving workflows. RPA uses automated software robots — or bots — to extract data from one application and paste it into another.” Integrating this software helps eliminate the significant struggle among shippers, carriers, and management by opening communication lines and transforming logistics.

2. After-Sales Service to Handle Customer Needs

Another essential function of using RPA in supply chain activity comes after the sale. After-sales customer service checks in on customers to ensure their needs are met, including a great delivery experience. This service provides customers with an easy way to submit feedback in a way that helps ensure that their voice is heard. If issues occur, customers can address them immediately. This provides the company with an opportunity to boost its customer service level with timely responses. 

3. Automation of Data Entry

Automated data entry enables logistics managers to reduce their workload and prioritize their working hours. Mundane, everyday tasks can encroach on valuable work time, especially during the crunch time of busy seasons and any logistics automation, like RPA, will help streamline the upstream supply chain. Using RPA in supply chain operations to handle these processes will streamline those services and increase efficiency.  Manual entry of customer information also takes up precious time. In addition to saving time on paperwork, automated systems can remember repeat customers and automatically save and share their data with shippers. 

4. Enabling Order Management

In addition to enabling automated back-office work, using RPA in supply chain processes also allows for more seamless order management. Disorganization caused by manual processes can lead to lost files or information and shipment delays. Poor order management can cause delays and prevent on-time deliveries. The ripple effect of missing deadlines can lead shippers to lose business and logistics companies and freight forwarders to lose shippers. 

5. Identifying, Implementing, and Continuously Optimizing Network Processes

Becoming more efficient with RPA can make it easier when it comes to processing orders, shipping via multi-modes, verifying vendors, and identifying additional needs. However, efficiency does not stop at implementation. Adding RPA in supply chain processes means continuous, proactive, and preventative maintenance for network processes, as well as ongoing route optimization connected to other systems of record. Furthermore, software needs to be monitored to correctly identify issues as they arise. These processes can reorder inventory or condense emails, but management and other users must put in the work to ensure proper care and maintenance for their solutions. 

Increase Efficiency With RPA in Supply Chain Processes Throughout Your Network

RPA in supply chain processes handles everything from backlogged office duties to tracking the shipments and nurturing customers once their order is complete. Many supply chain experts can better navigate the frustrating and confusing parts of shipments by upgrading the software bots throughout the network. Request a demo with RPA Labs to get started.