eCommerce Automation: 10 Ways to Automate Your Processes
As any eCommerce business starts to scale and grow, operations can get messy. Whether you run your own D2C store or sell products through a third-party site, the demands become more complex and more repetitive.
It’s not unusual for a fast-growing merchant to become overwhelmed as orders stack up. However, there is a way to keep everything on track while continuing to scale your business. eCommerce automation is the answer.
eCommerce automation is the use of software to control processes involved in your eCommerce operations. In other words, it’s when online stores use tools to convert repetitive, manual tasks into self-fulfilling, automated tasks.
This can boost efficiency and reliability, but it also allows eCommerce businesses of every size to do more with the resources they have.
eCommerce automation can be used to streamline most aspects of your business – from fulfillment through to customer service.
There are tons of reasons why eCommerce automation is essential. This far-reaching technology can do anything from responding to customer emails to ordering new stock.
The possible benefits are endless. However, let’s take a look at the overall perks that make eCommerce automation so important.
eCommerce automation can save time for operations managers, customer service agents, marketing teams and fraud prevention executives – to name just a few.
However, this doesn’t mean you’ll have to let staff go. Instead, eCommerce automation frees up time so your team can focus on customer communications and eCommerce strategies that will put your brand ahead of the competition.
By reducing repetitive tasks, your team is also more likely to be engaged and satisfied in their work.
Once set up, eCommerce automation software can easily handle growing workloads. Without it, you’d have to hire and onboard staff to deal with things like increased order volumes.
eCommerce marketing automation, in particular, can help you grow your business faster. Even a small team can easily implement personalised messaging, triggered campaigns and other impactful strategies.
Recent research shows that 60% of businesses implement eCommerce automation tools to save money and scale up their business.
This indicates that automation can save money without negatively impacting growth.
Almost all eCommerce automation works by creating automated workflows, which involve a trigger, a condition and an action.
These workflows can set off anything from emails and notifications to actions in other apps. For example, a message being sent to your support email could trigger the creation of a support ticket in your help desk or an automated email response.
Though this will only happen when certain conditions are met. For example, this might only happen when there are no active support tickets linked to the relevant email address. To ensure everything works perfectly, you can create multiple conditions that need to be met before a workflow runs.
Creating your own automated systems in-house is possible, but it requires a lot of work and engineering know-how. So most brands choose to use out-of-the-box SaaS solutions instead.
Shopify users can customise Shopify Flow templates to create automated workflows without code. While brands that use the likes of WooCommerce, Magento or PrestaShop can take advantage of extensions and integrations to help with their eCommerce process automation. The same also goes for those using Amazon Seller Central.
Let’s take a look at some different ways to automate your eCommerce processes and the different tools that can help.
You can use automation to unpublish or hide out-of-stock products until they are available again.
You can also use stock reporting tools, like ChannelSight’s Digital Shelf, to monitor real-time inventory levels across your entire retail network. Automatic alerts will empower you to reorder stock without delay and avoid stockouts.
When an item leaves your warehouse or is back in stock, you can trigger emails, texts and chat messages to let customers know.
Specialised shipping and order fulfillment software, like BrightPearl and Skubana, can also help you simplify your warehouse processes and streamline your supply chain. This means eCommerce brands can pick, pack and ship their orders in less time and with fewer errors.
Software like SEON and Riskified can help your store automatically identify and pause high risk orders. These tools will also send automated messages to your team to let them know about it.
eCommerce help desks, such as eDesk, Zendesk and ChannelReply, make it easier to manage incoming customer queries and complaints. Certain help desks will even prioritise tickets based on urgency and automatically suggest responses to FAQs.
Then, there’s chatbot tools that can send automated messages in response to questions about deliveries, refunds and common queries, so shoppers won’t have to reach out to your agents.
You can use eCommerce process automation to segment your audience and serve them with relevant messages.
It is possible to automatically group customers based on different attributes, such as the products they buy, the region they live in or the amount of money they’ve spent. You can then implement automated actions, such as cross-merchandising emails or retention strategies.
Many CRM systems and marketing automation platforms, like Zendesk, Salesforce, HubSpot and Mailchimp, can help you do this.
When it comes to marketing, the automation opportunities are endless. Marketers can automatically upload new products, apply discounts, send targeted emails, publish content and create social media posts.
Some of the best tools available include Mailchimp, Hootsuite, HubSpot, ActiveCampaign, Drip and Zapier.
You can automate your accounting, invoicing and reconciliation if you connect tools like Xero or Quickbooks Online with your eCommerce platform.
You can also integrate these kinds of tools with your inventory and shipping software to automatically keep track of expenses.
You can use your CRM or email marketing tool to send emails in response to hundreds of actions.
You can follow up with people who abandon their shopping cart, gather feedback after a sale, send discounts to inactive customers, reach out to dissatisfied reviewers or remind frequent shoppers to reorder perishable products.
The likes of Google, Amazon and Facebook are leaders in the area of AI-powered, eCommerce marketing automation. With very little effort, they allow stores of every size to create automated ad campaigns that optimise themselves.
Google Smart Shopping automates product ad bids and placements, for example. Then, there’s also Google Responsive Ads, Facebook Automated Ads and Amazon’s dynamic eCommerce ads, which automatically present the most impactful combination of ad creatives to your audience.
With so many online channels to choose from, the modern consumer journey is more complex than ever. Luckily, there are some eCommerce process automation tools to help you keep up.
Automated journey mapping tools, like Hive9 and Infinigrow, can provide valuable insights to your team. Customer success software, like Totango, can help you design, trial and scale your journeys too. And ChannelSight’s Where to Buy tool can facilitate shoppers who want to check out on third-party sites like Amazon or Walmart.
Every eCommerce brand, big and small, can benefit from implementing eCommerce automation. In fact, 80% of companies say they’re already using it. So it’s time for your brand to check out the above tools too.