Britain's retail industry is in 'an advanced state of automation

A survey conducted by Business Intelligence Direct Limited and ITESOFT UK of 117 retail and wholesale organisations has found that Britain's retail industry is in 'an advanced state of automation' compared to the majority of other business sectors across the British Isles.

The survey found that 80 per cent of retailers interviewed had some form of automatic document processing solution in place.

Of the 20 per cent that did not, almost all were aware of potential savings but admitted delaying implementation due to a range of factors including a lack of business processing resources, implementation of major IT infrastructure projects such as new ERP or finance systems, and recent or impending restructuring of the company.

Among the UK retail firms questioned, the vast majority, 86 per cent, received enough invoices or had sufficient processing staff to warrant implementing an automatic invoice processing solution that would result in a return on investment (ROI) within 18-24 months.

Colin Dean, ITESOFT UK MD said, "A retail company employing four or more processing staff and or receiving over three thousand invoices will gain significant ROI and process improvements if they implement an automatic invoice processing solution.

"A typical UK invoice costs just under 5 to process but it is not unusual for the cost to be three times this. For a company processing 100,000 invoices per annum this equates to an annual cost of up to a million pounds."

The survey also revealed that of the larger supermarket chains and department stores, almost 27 per cent have or will implement EDI (Electronic Data Interchange), and over a third of these have installed or were also implementing Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology.

Most invoices are received in paper. These are processed using OCR technology. This class of solution will read data from paper and upload directly to information systems with greater accuracy and at a fraction of the cost of human operators.

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