5 Ways Automation Can Help Your Ecommerce Business
Automation — it’s everywhere right now. Of course, this isn’t anything new — since the dawn of mankind, our species has sought ever more ingenious ways of reducing humanity’s workload. It could even be argued that our collective ingenuity and industrial spirit is driven by an appetite to work less. A constant strive fuelled, in part, by our inherent desire to attain freedom from labor.
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Our world has been shaped by centuries of inventive automation, from the ancient windmills, water wheels, and printing presses of yesteryear, to the modern technologies of self-driving cars and AI language models. The power of automation has transformed every aspect of our lives, and there’s no end in sight to its evolution.
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However, if you’re running your own ecommerce business, you’re likely missing out on some key uses for automation — techniques that can help your company save time, increase productivity, and boost your bottom line. Intrigued? Read on, as we delve into 5 ways automation can help your ecommerce business.
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Streamlining Payment Processing
Attracting customers is a core priority for any ecommerce business, but with every order comes a long list of tasks. From verifying payments to processing refunds and managing accurate invoices (for both your customers and accounting purposes), the process may often feel overwhelming.
All this manual work can be draining. For the staff on the frontline, the dull, repetitive nature of these tasks may hamper their accuracy, and on a broader level, affect your store’s overall growth. Thankfully, automation can help. Here’s how:
- Automated payment gateways: Automated payment gateways such as Stripe can eliminate the need for manual payment processing, ensuring increased speed and efficiency (and less room for human error).
- Inventory management: Automated inventory management can help you better manage your stock levels and reduce errors (which left unchecked, could lead to further stock-related headaches in the future). Check out Netsuite’s inventory management software to learn more.
- Fraud detection: With the help of automation, ecommerce businesses can detect fraudulent transactions in real time, reducing the risk of chargebacks and improving the security of online transactions.
- Automatic invoicing: If your store relies on recurring revenue, automated invoicing software can substantially reduce the time it takes your team to manually process your invoices. Some solutions (such as those provided by Chargebee’s recurring payment services) may even come packaged with additional features, such as smart dunning management, or a customer self-service portal.
- Order tracking: Some automation tools (such as Monday) enable you to provide your customers with real-time updates on their orders.
Improving Customer Experience
We’re sure you’re no stranger to the old adage “the customer is always right”. While we’ll concede that this isn’t always the case, one thing’s for sure — keeping your customers happy is crucial.
And what do you know, customer service is another area where automation can prove invaluable! Here’s how:
- Instant support: Automated chatbots and virtual assistants can provide customers with immediate answers to common inquiries, even outside of regular business hours. Routine tasks such as ticket categorization and routing can now be automated, allowing your support agents to focus on serious complaints.
- Customer personalization: Automated product recommendations and personalized offers can create a tailor-made shopping experience for your customers and help generate further sales — a win-win for your store.
- Hassle-free returns: By automating returns, your customers can initiate a return request, receive shipping labels and instructions, and track the status of their return in real time. Automation can also allow you to process returns more quickly and accurately, reducing the time it takes to issue refunds or exchange products.
Boosting Marketing Efforts
As an ecommerce business owner, you know how important marketing is for driving sales and growing your brand. But with so many marketing channels and tactics available, it can be overwhelming to manage them all.
This is where automation comes in. By automating certain marketing tasks, you can save time, streamline your marketing efforts, and increase your ROI. For instance, marketing automation tools can help you:
- Segment your audience: By analyzing customer data, you can group customers based on their behavior, interests, or demographics. This enables you to create targeted campaigns that resonate with specific customer segments.
- Personalize your messaging: With automation, you can deliver personalized messages to your customers based on their behavior, preferences, or purchase history. This makes your marketing messages more relevant and engaging.
- Automate email campaigns: Email marketing is still one of the most effective marketing channels. By automating email campaigns, you can send targeted messages at the optimal time, such as welcome emails, abandoned cart reminders, or post-purchase follow-ups.
- Optimize your social media: Social media is a powerful tool for engaging with customers and driving traffic to your store. With automation tools, you can schedule posts, monitor conversations, and analyze performance, all from a single platform.
If you’ve made it this far, you’re well aware of just how much of a boost automation can provide to your store’s overall efficiency.
The points below intersect with much of what we’ve already discussed above, but we think they’re worth hammering home — after all, time is money. Here’s how automation can increase the efficiency of your ecommerce business:
- Inventory management: Automated inventory management systems can help you keep track of your stock levels, reorder products, and avoid stockouts. This can reduce the time and effort required to manage your inventory manually, while also minimizing the risk of overselling or underselling.
- Order fulfillment: Automated order fulfillment systems can help you process orders quickly and accurately, reducing the time it takes to ship products to customers, improving delivery times, and increasing customer satisfaction.
- Accounting and finance: Automation can simplify your accounting and finance processes, from tracking expenses and revenue to generating reports and invoices. This can save you heaps of time and reduce the risk of errors in one fell swoop, enabling you to make more informed decisions about your business.
- Customer service: Automated customer service tools, such as chatbots and virtual assistants, can handle routine inquiries and support requests, reducing the workload on your customer service team. This can free up their time to focus on more complex or high-value tasks, such as providing personalized support to customers.
Compliance might not be the most riveting topic, but it is crucial for the commercial success of any ecommerce business. Familiarizing yourself with all the relevant laws and regulations can be a daunting (and rather dry) task, but thankfully, automation can assist with:
- Data protection: Automated data protection tools can help you safeguard customer data, such as personal and payment information. This can help you comply with data privacy laws and regulations, such as GDPR and CCPA.
- Tax compliance: Automated tax compliance tools can help you calculate and collect sales tax accurately, based on the location of your customers and your business. These software packages can help you comply with state and local tax laws (which can vary widely depending on the location of your business).
- Shipping compliance: Automated shipping compliance tools can help you comply with shipping regulations, such as hazardous materials regulations and customs clearance requirements. This can reduce the risk of shipping delays, penalties, and customer complaints.
- Accessibility compliance: Automated accessibility compliance tools can ensure that your website and digital content are accessible to customers with disabilities. This can help you comply with accessibility laws and regulations, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
So, there you have it — 5 compelling ways automation can make running your ecommerce store that little bit easier. Hopefully, after reading this post, you’re convinced that automation is a must-have for any ecommerce business. But don’t just stop here: check out our guide to remote side hustles or our post on 6 factors that impact your business credit score for more helpful tips and tricks to grow your business.