No matter how small or large your operation is, you probably have hundreds of small tasks that only take just a few minutes out of your day. On their own, these manual tasks don’t appear to be huge time-wasters. However, when they accumulate, they may end up wasting a full hour.
What falls into these time-wasters? Well, it can be anything from small tweaks to your ecommerce platform, to running email campaigns and sending follow-up messages to your customers. All of these tasks, when taken lightly, can become dangerous.
In fact, these small tasks can destroy your productivity and hinder the growth of your business. As Deloitte recommends, you have to avoid wasting time on insignificant tasks and focus all of your attention on fundamentally improving your operation.
That’s where automation comes into play. In this article, we’re going to talk about the following three things:
- What automation means for ecommerce businesses
- How you can benefit from automating tasks
- Which tasks you need to automate
What is ecommerce automation?
Ecommerce automation is when businesses implement tools to replace manual processes. For ecommerce specifically, this might mean sending an automatic response to common questions like "where is my order," automatically generating order updates (like shipping and delivery), offering additional product suggestions at checkout, or sending a welcome email to first time customers.
Benefits of ecommerce automation
Automation can help you streamline ecommerce tasks while still maintaining a human touch. It also helps teams keep track of inventory, reduce costs, increase customer satisfaction, lower first response time, and eliminate tedious or repetetive answers for your customer support team.
1. Streamline workflows
Everyone has a routine. Your employees do too. But insignificant tasks don’t need to be a part of it. Roughly 25% of employees simply want to “do their jobs.” Use automation to give your employees an opportunity to do their jobs and improve satisfaction rates.
2. Reduce costs
Without spending an hour or two easily-allocatable jobs, your employees can concentrate on working on their tasks and getting things done on time. That will eliminate the need for working overtime and, in turn, save your company a good amount of money.
3. Increase customer satisfaction
Your employees won’t be the only ones feeling more satisfied than ever. More than a third of consumers feel that response time is the most important aspect of customer service. By automating customer services (including adding customer self-service options), you’ll ensure high satisfaction rates among shoppers.
8 ecommerce tasks you need to automate
By now, you’ve hopefully realized just how useful automation can be. Regardless of the size and type of your online store, some processes need to be automated as soon as possible.
Here are eight of those repetitive tasks...
1. Customer service
Satisfied shoppers are happy shoppers. And happy shoppers are big spenders. A case study conducted by Pardot revealed that a small business managed to increase revenue by 50% with customer service automation. Once they stopped using it, their revenue went down.
The biggest difference between traditional and automated customer service is that the latter can work 24/7, gather real-time feedback, and provide answers instantly, usually through features in your helpdesk. All of this, of course, can improve customer experience immensely. The difference can be seen in the dichotomy of live chat vs chatbots, where the former requires agents to handle the chat while the latter uses AI to answer queries.
What can you do if a customer sends a message after work hours? Or sends messages on multiple support channels? You can simply use Gorgias to automatically respond to consumers after your work is done. All you need to do is go to your dashboard, create a new rule concerning these messages, add a trigger, and you’re done.
2. Sales schedule
In the past, having a sale every few months was the standard. Now, most online stores have weekend sales almost every month. It’s no wonder why more than 60% of salespeople feel that selling is much harder today than it was just a couple of years ago.
Now you’re forced to have frequent sales as well -- just to compete with other stores. While having a sale may seem like a simple thing to an untrained eye, you need to look beneath the surface.
You’ll realize that the automation process has a lot of moving parts:
- Having regular social media posts about it
- Keeping shoppers engaged until the end of it
- Making sure shoppers are hyped with a countdown
- Teasing low prices and items going on sales
3. Product rollouts
Every time you're restocking or adding a new collection of products, you have to treat it like a new product launch. You have to see what platforms you need to target, what consumers to notify, at what time, and deal with many other aspects.
Even something simple like a product rollout requires much preparation. A lack of preparedness is the biggest problem an online store can encounter.
The promotion starts on your website. And you want people to know about new products right away, right? Then you can use a heatmap tool like Crazy Egg to get an idea of where to place ads on your site. It will help you see what’s working, what's not, and give you new ideas.
4. Fraud prevention
Although few people today fall for “Nigerian Prince” schemes, credit card fraud is still a big problem on the Internet. The ecommerce industry loses over $12 billion every year due to fraud. And there are many types of ecommerce fraud.
That’s why order management is a tricky task for so many employees.
If you want to eliminate human error out of the equation, you should try Shopify’s risk analysis tools. The tool verifies every order that comes to your dashboard through address verification, IP address check, and other business processes.
In the video below, you can hear Eric Bandholtz of Beardbrand and Brett Burns explain how they use Shopify Flow to filter out fraudulent orders:
5. Inventory management
Managing your inventory is not something many of your workers look forward to. Of course, if you don’t keep track of your stock, you won’t be able to know what items need to be restocked or to communicate effectively with your suppliers.
And the last thing you want is more supply management problems.
A lack of inventory management can also lead to lower sales and lost revenue. That’s why you need to oversee products coming in and out of your company. This may be time-consuming, but you can use an inventory management platform to make things easier.
You need a platform that will help you manage the supply chain more carefully, assess your stock, and keep your suppliers in tune at every moment.
Here are our recommendations:
6. Email marketing
When it comes to your ecommerce store, email is one of the most powerful tools you have. It can help you with cross-selling efforts, customer retention rates, and of course, your marketing strategy. Automating email marketing makes a lot of sense. You don’t want to spend hours writing and sending out emails to your shoppers.
But many businesses fail to realize this.
In fact, in the United States, less than 5% of companies with more than 20 workers apparently use any marketing automation at all. You can’t allow your company to not leverage marketing automation.
Businesses that have embraced ecommerce automation tools and improved their email strategies have managed to increase their conversion rates by up to 77%. So what should you look for in an email marketing automation tool?
Here are a few things to consider:
- The ability to send welcome emails to new customers
- Behavioral triggers that lower shopping cart abandonment rates
- Post-purchase engagement emails with order notifications
Recommended reading: Ecommerce Email Automation Series for Online Stores
When you were just starting your own online business, you probably didn’t think too much about accounting. It’s one of those aspects of a business that doesn’t require too much focus in the beginning, when you’re not making too much.
But as your business grows, that changes completely.
Hiring an accountant is a great idea unless you’re just starting and you don’t have enough money for it. If that’s the case with you, you need an alternative solution. Fortunately, studies have shown that you can actually automate 50% of accounting-related tasks.
There’s plenty of tools for you to choose from. And they can help you with everything from managing your funds to invoicing and keeping track of supplies.
Some of the most widely used accounting platforms include:
8. Web development
The look of your website accounts for 75% of your brand’s credibility with users. That means every aspect - from design and graphics to easy-of-use and navigation - needs to be running smoothly. And that also means that you need to have someone overlooking everything.
Working on a tight, calculated budget can make having a 24-hour on-deck team for these kinds of problems next to impossible. However, you can still have all of the minor problems under control with the use of automation.
Small theme changes, action-oriented visuals, and pop-up banners can all be handled without the developers’ involvement with a bit of help from Shopify Flow. You should only call in the big guns when you got a real problem on your hands.
Automate tasks, not relationships
A little automation can go a long way. But try not to overdo it. You can’t use automation as an excuse to ignore customer support completely. If you start completely relying on robots to communicate with your customers, you’ll start losing them.
Here’s what you need to keep in mind about automation:
- There’s a ton of software out there for eliminating inconsequential tasks
- Automation is there to help you think about the high-value aspects of your business
- You have a number of repetitive tasks that require automation ASAP so start with those
If you want to give your brand a human feel, you need to treat your customers right. And you can’t treat them right without the right tools. Sign up for Gorgias today and get a 15-day free trial.