Setting up a digital storefront is the first step in the digital commerce world. When your store is up, it’s important that you are running it smartly. Hence, automation.
Every e-retailer executes a plethora of tasks every day that individually don’t take much time. However, when put together, the amount of time consumed is significant enough to devour productivity and growth. The most important thing that you can save in your business is time. The time spent on repetitive, standard tasks can be saved by automating those tasks. This saved time can be spent on executing what’s more important.
What exactly is eCommerce Automation: Examples, Use Cases
eCommerce automation is nothing but setting up tools to perform tasks rather than having to do them yourself manually. No doubt, there are errands that require human inputs but a large portion of them are performed in a consistent fashion day-in day-out and can be automated to save time. The primary objective of automation is to increase human productivity and efficiency.
Let’s understand automation with some examples.
Sending a sequence of emails to new sign-ups: This activity is quite common and fairly simple when it comes to automating frequent actions.
Emails are the most flexible and an almost ubiquitous medium for exchanging messages and people prefer to interact with brands via emails mostly. This works very well in the favor of brands as well as they can send creative and targeted messages to their existing and potential customers. These emails are segmented, personalized, and triggered, hence, automated. Email automation is one of the most embraced functionality of marketing automation tools and rightly so. According to venture beat, the brands who adopt email automation have a shot at raising their conversions by 77%.
There are several automated email flows that can be leveraged by an eCommerce store. These include welcome emails, abandoned cart reminders, post-purchase follow ups, re-engagement prompts, upsell and cross-sell offers, regular updates, etc. Here’s an automated welcome email from Marc Insights that not only greets the user upon visiting but also encourages them to join their rewards program.
We will discuss email automation in detail later in the article. Here’s another example that will give a clear and better understanding of eCommerce automation use cases-
Customer Support Automation: Customer support is one of the most important operatives for any business if they intend to retain their customers and build loyalty. Irrespective of the business size, customer support always remains a busy area and it only makes sense to automate this part. Most of the customer queries can be resolved using a company knowledge base or FAQs that should appear as soon as a user types keywords like “what” or “how”. There are tools that can be implemented on your website to automatically redirect users to helpdesks.
Furthermore, the best approach to assisting users with common queries is implementing chatbots. In addition to handling basic user queries and placing orders, a chatbot can also collect feedback from the users by the time the conversation ends.
Here’s a chatbot from Argomall (a Philippines-based eCommerce store) handling a customer order:
Automation has numerous use cases that can be implemented across different aspects of an eCommerce business. While some of these aspects don’t necessarily need to be automated right away, there are some absolutely crucial ones that you should consider automating immediately. For instance, a proper inventory management system to handle everything from a single dashboard, a customer engagement software for handling common customer queries, and keeping track of your store visitors.
To stand out from competitors, you can set up functionalities like smart search solutions, recommendation engines, and chatbots can all be very helpful in providing a solid customer experience. You can use these features in your online store to streamline your interactions with customers and improve your website’s usability.
Before we move forward with the kind of automation you can implement on your online store, let’s understand why you should consider eCommerce automation in the first place.
Why is eCommerce Automation important?
A lot of tasks pertaining to the eCommerce operations involve constantly monitoring and collecting information, looking for certain parameters, and then acting upon them by following a certain procedure. For instance, sending triggered emails, flagging orders, adding customers to specific segments, creating a database of new subscribers, etc. requires a lot of work and consumes time. And, once you are done delegating these tasks to your automation tools, a thorough follow-up is needed to track the success rate of these activities.
A complete automation provides a means for the software to handle all this data and proceed accordingly, without you needing to intervene once you’ve set it up. These activities are set in motion, tracked, and then reset constantly and it is nearly impossible to handle all of it manually.
To put it broadly, here’s why eCommerce automation is important:
The most obvious benefit to eCommerce automation is the amount of time it frees up for you. When the menial part of the workload is being handled by the software, you can focus on growing your business and engaging your customers.
Generally speaking, consistency and accuracy are related benefits. Since you’re letting a computer handle these tasks, you can be assured that they’ll be handled in an appropriate and consistent manner. With automation, you only need to set up the tasks according to how you want them to be performed, and then the software takes care of it for you. Contrast this to manual work, in which you’d constantly need to keep track of which procedures to follow and when always with the possibility of human error.
For instance, a reconciliation software helps you identify any discrepancies that may incur right away and you can rectify the situation instantly. Imagine having to do this manually while taking care of hundreds and thousands of orders per day.
eCommerce automation allows you to run your business in a more professional way while easing some of the burdens. You’ll be able to devote your time where it truly matters, and provide the human touch where it’s needed.
Here are the aspects of your business that can be seamlessly sorted through eCommerce automation.
- Inventory management
- Accounting and book-keeping
- Marketing (customer follow ups, social media, emails, surveys, etc.)
- Order fulfillment ( WMS, carrier selection, etc.)
- Shipping (tracking, speed delivery, etc.)
- Customer service
- Returns and refunds
- Email marketing for cart abandonment
- Sending transactional emails regarding Order Receipt, Order Confirmation, delivery emails, etc.
- Re-engagement emails
- Analytics and data collection
- Workflow management
As businesses grow, it is practically impossible to manage every task manually. Not only is it a time-consuming task, but it also leaves chances for human error. Both can hinder the experience a customer gathers on your online store, hence, hampering the overall customer retention.
When to automate your tasks?
Automation works on predetermined criteria and does everything by the book. Therefore, it is important to categorize tasks that can be automated or not. Routine tasks or activities which follow a specific workflow can be automated. Activities that require personalization or our situation-specific are best handled manually.
Automating eCommerce: How to go about it?
Customer Engagement and Experience:
Customer experience is one of the most crucial parts of handling an eCommerce business. From visitors navigating around your website to customers asking queries, customer experience has to be immaculate. The only possible way to consistently deliver a top-notch customer experience is automation. There are a number of ways you can do that:
- Rewarding your high-valued customers: This is a great technique to retain customers, especially those who are valuable to your business. You can automatically add a gift card for those making a purchase above a certain price threshold. You can also offer discounts or free delivery. There are tools available that allow you to segregate customers based on their lifetime spend and then you can send them emails with the rewards. It is estimated that if your customer retention rate increases by 5%, your profit margins will land anywhere between 25-95%.
Starbucks is known to come up with some of the most popular and engaging rewards programs. These programs are tailor-made for the customers based on the business value they bring.
- Sync all customers to your newsletter list: All of the top eCommerce platforms – including WooCommerce and Shopify – have native integrations with Mailchimp. So if you’re using the popular email marketing tool to send your newsletters and email marketing workflows, make sure to sync your account. Integration with Mailchimp can automatically pass the email addresses of shoppers who show interest in your emails into a specified Mailchimp list, so you can keep them updated with your latest products and offers.
- Customer Engagement Software: A good customer engagement software will help you engage customers throughout the buyer’s journey and can even collect feedback after a successful transaction. Here’s what you can do with customer engagement software:
- Track your visitors in real-time
- Handle queries with both human agents and chatbots
- Collect feedback via a survey bot
- Assign tickets to team members
An automated inventory management system can be used to perform a variety of vital business operations. Through automation and data-powered software, brands can streamline their supply chain and take control of their physical and e-commerce retail operations. By optimizing inventory allocation and fulfillment strategies, brands can increase the profitability of their e-commerce channels to gain a competitive edge in today’s modern commerce ecosystem.
What will an automated Inventory Management System do for you?
An automated inventory management system will help you keep track of your inventory and manage it effectively.
It is always advised to invest in a good inventory management software for your eCommerce business to optimize your overall inventory across channels. With EasyEcom, you will get more than 80 integrations integrated into a unified dashboard. The automated reconciliation tool helps you keep a track of returns and unsettled invoices. In a nutshell, here’s what you get with an omnichannel inventory management and reconciliation software like EasyEcom:
- Unified Dashboard with Integrations with major eCommerce channels
- Automate Complete Accounting For Easy Bookkeeping to reduce error and cost involved
- Increase Profitability With Advanced Data Analytics Reports
- Generates reports such as Margin report, Sales Report, Inventory forecasting, etc gives you the relevant data and helps in devising business growth strategies.
The most influential area that leverages the power of eCommerce automation is marketing. There are numerous possibilities where marketing automation in eCommerce can be beneficial for your brand. From emails to social media marketing, automation directly impacts your customer acquisition, experience, and retention.
By automating your marketing activities and workflows brands can not only save a lot of time but also allow the marketing team to focus on more creative and strategic aspects of their business. Marketing automation can take care of tasks like:
- Sending emails and SMS to keep the customers updated with the happenings and the upcoming events of your business. This is a great way to market your products and keep your customers hooked.
- Segmenting customers based on their preferences including channel preferences, payment preferences, order history, location, the device used while shopping, etc.
- Identify high-value customers: By automating this aspect, you can identify high-value customers and take necessary steps to turn them into loyal customers by providing them special discounts and notify the customer service so that they can send a personalized message.
- Nurture leads with email marketing: Once the customers are segmented into different categories, personalized emails can be sent to them. This increases conversion rate significantly and elevates customer experience as they interact with the brand. Here’s a classic example of an abandoned cart email from Visataprint that re-engages with the lead with an offer.
More than 80% of consumers believe that a personalized experience makes them keener towards a brand and increases the chances of them purchasing from their website.
48% of their targeted customers are likely to spend more money on brands that offer them a personalized experience.
Whenever a business gets a new subscriber, they can send them a thank-you or acknowledgement message or a welcome-email to introduce themselves. This is a great way of creating a positive first impression of your brand. E-retailers can send their high-value customers email after their first purchase, this is a great way of upselling/cross-selling.
Online shoppers often leave products in their cart and don’t make a final purchase. Businesses can automate shopping cart reminders which can increase sales.
- Schedule sales– A software can schedule sales based on price changes and promotions. E-retailers can pre-determine the time periods during which they will offer discounts, and the system will update prices accordingly.
Your automation system can also make price adjustments based on the order quantity or product combinations.
- Schedule product releases: Preload new products and publish them to your store, social media, apps, and sales channels simultaneously. Rollout and rollback entire theme changes for seasonal promotions or product drops.
- Save on incurring costs:The marketing team will be notified when the inventory level is low. They can then pause the promotion temporarily and optimize the ad spent.
- Reach out to website visitors via social media ads and schedule posts to keep your audience engaged and updated with your brands activities.
- Conduct Surveys: This will help you in understanding your customer and improve your services. You can either send automated emails for surveys or deploy chatbots dedicated to collecting feedback only.
Marketing automation software provides brands with analyzed detailed reports which help them in identifying the areas they need to work upon.
It is also important to understand that marketing automation tools alone can not drive business growth and generate leads. Automation works on the predetermined criteria or the “triggering conditions” that the marketing team has set. Therefore having a viable marketing strategy that can help a brand in generating more leads and improving customer experience is important.
Almost all of the operation-based and business activities can be streamlined to a great extent using eCommerce automation. It can be used to simplify workflow to increase the speed of the execution and ensure customer satisfaction.
Let’s take a look at some of the aspects of automation easing business operations:
- A lot of time in the Finance department can be saved by scheduling auto-payments of recurring invoices. Automation also helps the finance team by creating a payroll management system that suits the organization.
- eCommerce automation will also ensure that all the sales leads are attended to and treated in a uniform manner. It will also provide you with analytical reports of your onboarding process, which will help the sales team in improving their process and increase their sales. eCommerce automation can also increase upselling and cross-selling. All this can be executed using a CRM.
- With eCommerce automation in place, the IT Team can automate activities like assigning tickets to relevant personnel and avoid duplicate support requests. By automating customer complaints, the business will be able to address them more efficiently, ensure that the customer stays loyal to the business, and avoid the chances of negative word-of-mouth publicity.
- The purchase department can automate the vendor/supplier onboarding process and Purchase Order (PO) approval process. Generally, the supplier onboarding process is managed by the team by handling multiple spreadsheets and emails. This not only slows down the entire process but can lead to inconsistent data and errors. Automating PO approval leads to faster, more efficient, accurate, and timely purchases.
- For HR activities, automation reduces the paperwork required in the recruitment process and recruits candidates faster by automating the workflow.
As your business grows, it is important to automate your routine tasks, so that your team can work more productively. If retailers select an eCommerce automation tool that best fits their needs, they will be able to save more money in the long run, and close more deals while maintaining a high customer satisfaction rate. Keeping your customers satisfied is of utmost importance in today’s highly competitive market. Ecommerce automation helps businesses in maximizing their customer satisfaction and improves employees’ productivity.