Running an eCommerce store takes a lot of work and the ability to multitask. Most people don’t realize how many daily tasks entrepreneurs must accomplish just to keep the boat afloat, let alone optimize to make any profit. But once you’re in the trenches, getting overwhelmed with the amount of time and attention your eCommerce store demands can be easy.
Table of Contents
1. Why Is Automation Important In Ecommerce?
2. How Does Ecommerce Automation Work?
3. What Are The Benefits Of Ecommerce Automation?
4. Which Areas Of Ecommerce Websites Can Be Automated?
5. What Are Some Tech Tools To Better Automate Ecommerce?
6. How To Choose The Best Automation Tech Tools
7. Most Time-consuming Tasks To Automate
8. Choose Automation Software For Your Business
9. Final Thoughts
The key to success is understanding how to delegate. What if you’re a solo venture? What if you don’t have employees to delegate those monotonous, repetitive tasks to? What if you do have employees, but would benefit from the ability to remove some of those daily tasks from their workload? That way everyone on board can focus on more value-adding activities instead.
Enter eCommerce automation – a way to complete all those repetitive tasks using software and technology. Automation is a process that essentially uses software programs to automatically handle those tasks for you so that you can focus on the more important aspects of running your business.
According to Shopify, thousands of online retailers already use their built-in automation system, Shopify Plus. According to their numbers, those businesses are using automation to make a combined 1.1 million decisions that previously required human intervention, saving 9.2 million hours of valuable time.
This article will cover what automation might mean for your eCommerce business, how it works, and how you can incorporate ecommerce automation into your Shopify store.
Why Is Automation Important in Ecommerce?
Incorporating automation systems into your eCommerce store is important – that is, if you like making money and still maintaining a bit of your sanity. Automation allows you to offload many tasks that otherwise would require human interaction and frees up your time and money for other activities.
Here are a few reasons why using automation software in your Shopify store is important.
Saves Valuable Time
Using eCommerce automation technology in your Shopify store is an important part of running a successful business without losing your mind. Think of it this way: if you sat down and made a list of every task required to run your business, including handling inventory, processing sales and returns, advertising, and marketing, updating data, prices, and sales, and on and on – that list would quickly become overwhelming.
Each of these tasks might only take a few minutes, but when you add them up and look at the big picture, it’s easy to see exactly how much time you’re investing daily. Now imagine if you could get some of that time back and still successfully accomplish these tasks.
Reduces Human Error
Another major benefit of automation is removing human error. It’s just a fact of life that human beings make mistakes, and when you’re running a business, those mistakes can cause a huge disruption. Let’s look at the example of inventory management.
If you handle the tasks related to managing and replenishing your inventory manually, you’re responsible for ordering, receiving, stocking, and counting that inventory. Every time a sale is made or a return is processed, you must update that inventory. And when stock runs low on your most popular item, you will need to place an order to get that product back in and then receive that inventory when it arrives.
So, what happens when you let that task slip and forget to place that important order or order the wrong item by mistake? Now you’re losing out on sales and potentially angering customers.
However, suppose you automate the task of ordering and inventory management. In that case, automation can do all those tasks in a fraction of the time and with less chance of costly errors.
Investing in automation technology might represent an upfront cost, but putting that investment in perspective is important. We can look at some statistics to demonstrate how investing in automation can save money in the long run.
For instance, one study by McKinsey found 45% of employee work tasks could be automated, meaning the company could redirect the time spent on those tasks elsewhere. The same company found businesses can automate more than 30% of sales activities.
Another study by Nucleus found that businesses that automate their marketing tasks see a 14.5% increase in sales productivity and a 12.2% reduction in their marketing spend.
How Does Ecommerce Automation Work?
You might be wondering exactly how eCommerce automation works so effectively. Understanding the mechanics of automation technology can certainly help you see the benefits. And the good news is that because of how the technology works, automation systems get smarter and more efficient over time. Time to put on your IT hat and get into the details.
Automation involves using AI, or artificial intelligence, and ML, or machine learning. Machine learning involves taking gathered data and using that information to make better decisions. So, in essence, AI uses inputs and information to automatically adjust its responses, getting better and more effective with each interaction.
It might be easier to understand this process by observing it in action. For instance, when a customer enters a term or phrase into the search engine on your eCommerce site, AI uses that data to generate a list of results. Using automation allows you to display results more relevant to your customer's inquiries.
AI and machine learning can use information about virtually every action your customers take while on your site. It can observe their behaviors, habits, and preferences – and it can learn and adjust its responses based on that data.
What Are the Benefits of Ecommerce Automation?
We’ve already touched upon a few of the biggest benefits of eCommerce automation, including the amount of both time and money you can save and the reduction in errors. But automating your processes can truly have a positive effect on virtually every aspect of your business. Here are a few major benefits you will see when you start implementing automation into your daily activities on Shopify.
Every action you take as an online retailer center around the customer, and automation is one of the best ways to boost customer satisfaction. Automation lets you learn from your customers' behavior and offers them an easier, more streamlined shopping experience. You can even automate your customer service interactions using a chatbot so that your customers never have to wait for a response to a question.
Quality of Leads
There are a lot of different ways to generate leads for your business – from paid advertising to social media marketing. But you’re wasting your time, effort, and money if you're not gathering high-quality leads. With automation, you can easily gather high-quality leads that are more likely to convert into customers.
Automation can increase your conversion rate at almost every level of the sales funnel. Access to data regarding the success of your marketing initiatives can help you improve those strategies.
For example, automation can show you the success of an email campaign, like your open and click-through rates. Statistics show that businesses see a 463% higher CTR when implementing personalized emails, which is a task that you can easily automate as well.
Automation can show you how many customers are following through with their orders and how many are abandoning carts before checkout. All this information can ultimately help you see where you need to improve your processes, which can increase your conversions and lead to more repeat business.
Access to Valuable Data
Automation software gives you a better view of the data that relates to your business. It can show you data about your inventory and ordering systems. It can clue you into your customers and their interactions with your website.
It can provide insight into your marketing initiatives. When you have access to better data, you can make better decisions and find ways where improvements would make a big difference in the overall success of your business.
Which Areas of Ecommerce Websites Can Be Automated?
Ecommerce automation has incredible potential to improve your processes across the board. Here are some of the most common and effective ways that automation software can change the way you do business for the better.
Using automation to track and manage your inventory is one of the biggest benefits of automation software for online retailers. Inventory management is time-consuming and tricky. One mistake can cause a snowball effect, wreaking havoc on your sales. You can use automation to set automatic triggers that alert you when inventory is running low so you’re never left without a product to sell. And you can automate your receiving process, cutting back on manual paperwork.
Order Management Automation
The order process is another aspect of your business that can benefit greatly from automation. When a customer abandons a cart before checking out, there’s a reason for it. Maybe your checkout process is too complicated and time-consuming, or your shipping options aren’t optimized.
Learning why your customers are backing out of a purchase is essential if you want to improve your process and get more sales. With automation, you can send triggered pop-up messages or emails to those customers, reminding them to act and follow through.
Shipping Process Automation
Getting a customer to make a purchase isn’t the end of your sales process. You also must get that product into your customer’s hands, which means dealing with shipping. Automation can streamline your shipping process, automatically print shipping labels, and communicate tracking information with your customers.
Customer Experience Automation
Automation allows you more control over your customer experience. With automated systems in place, you can track your customers’ interactions and offer them a more personalized experience when shopping on your site. You can implement a loyalty program to reward customers and send automated emails to keep customers engaged with your brand. You can even send triggered emails to a customer after a purchase, asking them for feedback on their experience or to leave a review.
Email Marketing Automation
Speaking of emails, an automated email marketing campaign is one of the most popular ways that eCommerce retailers use automation. All you need to get started is your customer’s email address, which you can also obtain using automated prompts. Simple, intuitive software lets you easily set up and manage an email campaign.
Social Media Marketing
Social media is a powerful tool for brand building and audience interaction. But it requires quite a bit of attention and monitoring for it to be successful. Setting up a social media presence and then neglecting it is a surefire way to alienate your customers. But with automation, you can preschedule your social media posts so that they go out automatically, and your page is always active.
What Are Some Tech Tools to Better Automate Ecommerce?
How do you go about implementing eCommerce automation in your Shopify store? Several software programs can integrate directly into your Shopify platform. These software programs are easy to set up and use, but each is a bit different and performs different tasks. Here are a few of the most popular and useful automation tools on the market.
For Shopify store owners, it only makes sense to implement Shopify Flow. This easy-to-use program can automate numerous tasks based on certain triggers. When the program recognizes one of those triggers, it takes an automatic preset action. It’s one of the most basic and useful ways to start including automation in your store.
HubSpot is a CRM program or Customer Relationship Manager. You can use HubSpot to automate many vital marketing and customer interaction tasks. It can help with lead generation and offers easily readable reports that provide great insight into all kinds of customer interaction data.
QuickBooks is one of the most well-known software programs out there, and for good reason. It provides all-in-one accounting systems that help you manage the backend of your business and keep everything organized. You can use QuickBooks to automatically create invoices, track inventory, scan receipts to track your expenses, and create accounting reports.
Email marketing is a great way to reach your customers and keep them returning. With MailChimp, you can automatically segment your customer lists and personalize your messaging for a greater response. You can send out emails based on certain trigger actions, like welcome emails, thank you emails, and even birthday emails.
Kommunicate allows you to install chatbots and a live chat feature on your site. Chatbots are a powerful tool for increasing your customers’ satisfaction. Having an immediate solution for your customer's questions and complaints will go a long way toward keeping them happy.
How To Choose the Best Automation Tech Tools
Making any business decision requires some research, and every business is different. So, choosing the right eCommerce automation software will mean looking at your store’s current needs and what types of automation would best improve your results. Here are some tips on choosing the right automation tool for your Shopify store.
Identify your needs – Are you struggling with a specific process in your store? Do you spend too much time managing your inventory or dealing with your order process? Or are you looking for a way to generate more leads and increase your conversion rate? Focus on your biggest needs first and then scale up from there.
Consider your budget – While automation software provides an eventual return on your investment, it does also represent an upfront cost. Most automation software programs have a monthly subscription fee and include different access levels for members. Make sure you work within your budget and start slowly so that you don’t end up running out of money before seeing a return.
Do your research – Before making any decisions, make sure you’ve done your due diligence and investigated the features of each automation program. Choose one that matches your skill level and is easy to set up. Check which features the program offers and how it works so that you completely understand what you’re getting into.
Check customer reviews – Online reviews from past users are a great resource. You can read about others' experiences and determine if a software program is a good match for you or not. And you can learn the strengths and weaknesses of each program before investing.
Request a demo or trial – It never hurts to ask, right? Before putting down your hard-earned money, you can reach out directly to the software provider and ask if a free demo or trial offer is available. That way, you can test out the program to see if it would benefit your business.
Most Time-Consuming Tasks to Automate
Using eCommerce automation can greatly improve your success as an online retailer. But as they say, too much of a good thing can quickly turn bad.
It’s important that you use automation to your best advantage. That way, you see positive results without shelling out your entire operating budget on subscription fees. That means focusing on the most time-consuming tasks first. Below are some of the best automation software uses in your Shopify store.
Inventory Management – We can’t overstate how useful automation is for tracking and managing your inventory. Good inventory management is essential if you want to make sales, but it can eat up a great deal of time from your day. Automating inventory management can be a huge time saver.
Abandoned cart emails - Following up on abandoned carts can make a huge difference for an online retailer. It can help you pinpoint where things went wrong and persuade those customers to come back and finalize that purchase.
Social media - Social media is a great tool for businesses, but it can potentially consume a lot of your time. With automation, you can schedule regular social media updates in advance so that you can maintain an active presence without spending all day updating all your socials.
Email marketing – Another time-consuming task with great potential for generating business for your online store is email marketing. Email marketing becomes much easier, faster, and more effective with automation.
Gathering feedback – Using automation to gather feedback from your customers, either directly or by tracking their behaviors on your site, is one of the most valuable uses of the technology. Imagine how long it would take to track that data manually, and then consider how useful that knowledge is for improving your processes.
Customer service – You can save a lot of time and a lot of headaches by incorporating automation into your customer service processes. Keeping your customers happy and satisfied can be time-consuming, and your customers aren’t likely to wait around for you to find the time to respond to their requests or inquiries.
Choose Automation Software for Your Business
Choosing how to start using eCommerce automation in your Shopify store might seem tricky. But including automation in your daily processes can increase your chances of success and free up time in your day – time that can be used toward other activities that will help you grow and scale your business.
It’s a fact that 75% of eCommerce businesses already use automation software for their workflow processes. That’s because automation provides a huge benefit for online businesses – giving them more time and money to spend on other value-adding ventures.
As for your customers, they want automation as well. They want automated ordering processes to make things faster and easier. And they expect automated customer service avenues. 75% of customers enjoy interacting with a chatbot because it answers their questions instantly.
Automation software can benefit both you and your customers. But implementing it correctly is vital. You don’t want to drown yourself in subscription fees or end up with a bunch of tools that aren’t providing any real benefits where you need them.
Instead of downloading a bunch of apps that you know little about, you need to take your time and do your research first. Start with one or two automation tools focused on solving your biggest problems and giving you back as much time as possible. Get comfortable with those options before adding more. And don’t be afraid to change things up if it’s not working out.
Technology is constantly advancing, and that includes the tools that are available for eCommerce stores. To be successful in the online retail market, you will need more than just a storefront and a few products. There’s a real science behind online selling and a lot of tasks involved with operating a successful business.
Ecommerce automation has changed the way that online retailers do business in the best way possible. Using technology to accomplish numerous tasks automatically, gather vital information and feedback, and keep things running smoothly can make the difference between success and failure, and certainly gives you an advantage over your competitors.
Automation also provides you with the foundation for growth. By automating all those repetitive, time-consuming tasks, you will have more time and resources to build and grow your business. You will have happier, more satisfied customers. And you get to keep your sanity in the process.