- 29 July 2023
A Complete Guide to Automating an eCommerce Store.
An online store requires various touchpoints to manage and grow the business, many of these touchpoints are managed manually by most small and medium businesses. Finding a way to automate these touchpoints can be critical in gaming an advantage against your competitors and enabling the business to grow.
Automation can not only help to manage complex and time-consuming tasks it can also help to automate simple repetitive tasks to save large amounts of time over a long period.
Areas to Automate
The automation of each store can be different based on the industry, the size and the operational process of the store. Following are some of the most common elements within an online store that could be automated.
Inventory management is one of the most time-consuming areas within an online store which requires constant monitoring and administration to keep on top of the stock levels. Overselling of products is one of the main issues when selling popular products and avoiding it is essential in maintaining reputation and customer confidence. Similarly responding to the market with the right price is also another critical factor in maintaining a competitive advantage in the market while staying profitable.
For dropshipping stores, this requires close coordination with the suppliers as the stores are not in control of the stock available and the restocking time frames. Most dropshipping suppliers provide either livestock feed or regular stock feed for the stores. Integrating these feeds into the inventory management of the store can help to keep the stock levels in sync with the supplier.
Stock level alerts are another automation strategy that could be used to keep on top of the stock levels from the supplier, this can be out-of-stock notifications, low inventory notifications and other similar notifications.
Processing orders are another area where it can be manual and time-consuming, automating this process can be a major process improvement for a growing store. A growing store can face the challenge of processing orders manually without automating this process which could take up time away from marketing and promoting the store and products.
The order processing process can vary based on whether the store stock its products or other whether it dropship the products in partnership with a supplier.
If the store stocks the products this will involve integrating the store with the fulfilment partner or with the warehouse management software. Most of the fulfilment and warehouse management software provides an API (Application Programmable Interface) for orders to be passed from the website.
To integrate an API you either need a developer to program this, use automation workflow software like Zapier or use Stockistly which can integrate eCommerce stores with other software and systems used by the stores.
For stores that do dropshipping the order management can be less complicated and the supplier handles most of the complexity in delivery and order processing. However, integrating the communication between the store and the dropshipping supplier is critical in notifying the supplier about orders and saving time. Stockistly is one of the few software that provides order integration with dropshipping suppliers.
Customer support is an important part of running a store and how good the customer support is will determine the chance of a customer returning to the store, leaving a review online and recommending the store to friends and family. All these three factors are important in delighting customers so automating customer support can make it available to customers whenever they require it.
Automation of customer support has few options like chatbots and AI driven support systems but it must be used with caution as it might not be what the customers want.
Marketing and Email Automation
Marketing and email automation can be leveraged to automate communications based on the actions and events within the store by the customers. This could be as simple as notifying customers about a new coupon code or seasonal offers or it could be complex communication workflows based on the activity of customers on the store's website. There are many software that can automate these email flows for eCommerce stores.
Shipping and Logistics
Shipping and logistics provider integration can make the ordering process smooth and seamless. Having a fulfilment provider make this part of the warehouse management software and integration with the fulfilment provider could include shipping as well.
But if you ship the products by yourself integrating with the API of the shipping provider could help notify customers about the status of the shipping in an automated way.
Analytics and Reporting
Automating data collection and reporting helps you gain valuable insights into your business's performance, allowing you to make informed decisions and identify areas for improvement.
By automating various aspects of your e-commerce store, you can save time, reduce errors, enhance customer experience, and drive growth. Remember that automation should complement your business strategy, not replace it.
It empowers your team to focus on creativity, innovation, and customer-centric initiatives, ultimately propelling your e-commerce store towards sustained success. Embrace automation today and stay ahead of the competition tomorrow.