Being an entrepreneur, you have to take care of every aspect of your business. For eCommerce, you have to first look at your online business’s inventory, product fulfilment, marketing, and operations. eCommerce requires lots of hard work, and if you are handling everything manually, it becomes even more challenging. So, in this post, we will discover eCommerce automation and the 9 processes you can use for your business.
What is eCommerce Automation?
When we talk about eCommerce automation we need to understand that many e-commerce companies’ ongoing efforts are to streamline their business processes. The tools utilized to achieve this enable experimentation and creativity without swallowing too much time.
With the number of online shoppers growing every day, driving an e-commerce company isn’t getting any easier. So, if you’re trying to maintain business processes effectively while ensuring that customer satisfaction should be the priority all the time, it can be pretty daunting, mainly when your core is your eCommerce portal, backend operations, and the rest of the stuff in context. But, if you are facing such issues, then there is a way out of workflow automation. Automating your backend eCommerce workflows can lower your workload while improving efficiency, revenue, and, more importantly, supplier/vendor satisfaction and trust.
Top 9 eCommerce automation processes
Let’s have a look at some of the best eCommerce automation processes.
1. Fulfilment of Orders
Order fulfilment is essential as it plays a huge role in building a company’s reputation.
- If your business is down on stock, firstly, you need to look at moving the order to another warehouse.
- If there is no stock left, you have to ask your vendor to fill out the order.
- If these two solutions are not feasible, you can backup the supplies and alert the customer that the delivery will take longer than usual.
2. Product Launch Workflows
An automated workflow allows you to minimize lags and downtime before a launch.
Whenever you launch a new product that you made, or you bring new products into your store, there’s a lot that needs to be done before and after the release, such as:
- Designing digital assets for promotion on your website
- Product photos
- Product descriptions and content for product pages
- Populate the website with product data like SKUs, weight, size, etc.
- Creating email drip campaigns for the release
- Social post content for organic and paid posts leading up to (and after) launch.
- Building stock and warehouse space
With everything you need to handle, it’s effortless to fall behind or miss a step. To make sure that your product launch goes off without a hitch, you can filter the process by adding approval processes that automate the workflow. In addition, some services make it easy to define the steps within your process, initiating events as you reach milestones and moving forward when approvals are made.
3. Customer Purchase Follow-up
Gain more reviews with automated outreach to facilitate social proof. Reviews can have a massive impact on your sales. According to Nielsen, 92% of customers trust peer reviews over traditional advertising formats. As many as 90% of consumers say online reviews impact their buying decisions. Ideally, every customer will return to deliver a glowing review after making a purchase, but that seldom happens. Data from the Pew Research Center indicates that only 24% of American adults post online comments or reviews about the products.
Even for a small eCommerce store, it would be almost impossible to manually track and contact customers to follow up on their purchases. Rather, utilize built-in tools with platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce to automatically send an email a week or two after purchase completion. Then, ask the customer to return and leave a review with a link back to the site or product page and invite them to contact you if there are any concerns. It completely automates the process of acquiring reviews, improving product sales, and allowing you to handle any issues that negatively impact customers.
4. Inventory Management
Eradicate human error with automated inventory management.
Even for small stores, it can be time-consuming to manually update and keep track of inventory in an online store. Some business owners prefer not to track inventory, which can lead to orders being made when you’re out of stock, leading to refunds and upset customers. As your business expands, updating inventory becomes impossible, and blunders will happen more often.
Ideally, you like the on-hand inventory to match online inventory, with product availability updated automatically whenever transactions occur, returns are processed, and new products are checked in. There are numerous cloud-based and locally–installed software platforms that can assist you with this process and show integration with popular eCommerce platforms and other operational software. Consider looking at programs that can potentially scale with you, depending on your growth model, with options like:
- Multi-channel selling through more than one online store
- Multisite synchronization for multiple warehouses and fulfilment centres
- Segmented reporting for each location and selling channel
5. Product Returns, Refunds, and Exchanges
Platforms like Shopify include built-in refund options to let you automate the process.
Whenever you sell a tangible product, you’ll probably get requests for returns, refunds, and exchanges. These will come through your support centre and demand direct engagement with every case to resolve for many companies. Some platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce have options within a customer’s portal or account to automatically flag an item for return or refund.
Utilizing these options can relieve touchpoints and speed up the process. You can also enhance the efficiency of this process by having a written and visible return policy on your website. Keeping this information readily available online for customers can eradicate repetitive questions and minimize customer service contacts.
6. Accounting and Bookkeeping
Automation can allow you to streamline invoice payments and documentation.
For instance, you’re drowning in receipts, unpaid invoices, and other documents while handling other accounting duties for your small business. Manually updating your ledger and keeping up on numbers with purchase orders, sales, and expenses will consume away at your time. In addition, it can be a headache even for seasoned accounting professionals.
Therefore, using free printable invoices can help you out as they don’t require you to hire a pro. The best part is they professional, affordable, and easy to use.
Moreover, several software programs are known to help, with much of the more popular branded software capable of synchronizing with your online store through third-party apps. These will automatically pull sales (and even inventory) data into your accounting program to keep accurate records, including taxes. Additionally, there is software that makes it easy to digitize purchase orders, receipts, and other financial documents. These programs can feed the data to your accounting software, so you’re not compelled to enter each data line manually.
7. Analytics Monitoring and Reporting
You can save your time on analysis by driving automated reports in your analytics.
Numerous Ecommerce businesses live and die by the data. Your traffic, merchandising, and customer metrics inform you about the store and product performance. Of course, you want to monitor, but you also don’t want to be buried in reports regularly. Google Analytics can be configured to automatically generate reports and deliver the data you require at a specific date and time. This can save you the hassle of manually collecting data across multiple dashboards and channels and rather have it delivered directly to you or pulled with a few simple clicks.
8. Customer complaints
While process setbacks in refunds can make social media fires and cause you a couple of bad reviews, lethargy on non-financial complaints and feedback can deteriorate value slowly over time. Moreover, processing criticisms and feedback manually, from desk to desk, is cumbersome and can lead to poor handling of such complaints. This makes the processing of customer complaints an ideal candidate for automation, utilizing a ready-to-use SaaS-based workflow automation software.
Workflow automation improves effective back-office process flows for e-commerce companies and makes operations less complex and more well-organized.`
It permits employees to focus on their strengths and enables quicker decision-making and greater information security. It also assures process consistency and eradicates errors, inaccuracies, and miscommunications.
9. Competitive and Consumer Monitoring
Utilize competitive monitoring tools to bypass the manual collection of competitor information.
Remaining competitive in the ever-crowded online marketplace can be difficult. New competitors pop up every day, particularly around popular products or niches. Keep track of your competitors’ marketing, pricing, product launches, promotions, social outreach, and audience engagement tactics.
After all, 73% of online stores mention competitive pressure as one of the most important factors for price changes. For expanding eCommerce retailers, tools for competitive monitoring (for links and social media, for example), collecting consumer data, and pricing intelligence can be valuable.
Every entrepreneur desires to watch their business succeed beyond their expectations. The best approach to starting on that path is to release yourself from the daily processes. Instead, automate different aspects of your workflows and fine-tune your operations. These actions will provide you with the freedom to focus on growing your business and the chance to enjoy the fruits of what you’ve made. After reading this blog, we hope that you may have a fair idea of eCommerce automation.