The eCommerce industry is skyrocketing. There is a zero probability of growth descent as online shopping is expected to ascend at an even greater pace, with more than 60% of millennials in the United States being the most likely demographic group to shop online.
In a continuously expanding arena, businesses have immense opportunities for growing rapidly. If we observe their processes, an eCommerce business can enjoy more benefits of the market. Apart from traditional working modules, Workflow automation is a smart way for an organization to improve its processes.
In today’s global village, websites experience traffic 24/7. Businesses can accept orders every hour of the day and every day of the week. Only the giant business organizations can bear the cost of staff working 24/7. For all the small /mid size businesses, automation is the key to keep the business ticking in the absence of staff.
If this is the idea you need to meet your workload needs, this article is for you. By the end of this article, you will understand how workflow automation works and produce fruitful outcomes, what are key elements of the eCommerce automation checklist, and how to streamline your business processes using eCommerce automation. Let’s discuss eCommerce automation from all perspectives.
What Is Workflow Automation?
Workflow automation is a way for businesses to automate their processes, decrease the workload and cost of Human resource.
The main idea is to identify recurring tasks or any manual process that could be better performed through the use of technology. You then set free your employees from doing those tasks and let them focus on other important things. Instead of wasting valuable staff-hours, you can get the same tasks handled by technology more efficiently.
There are plenty of repetitive and manual processes across all departments of your business that need to be automated. From inventory management to email marketing, eCommerce tools that can enhance productivity and decrease the workload.
Ecommerce Tasks That Need To Be Automated
Below are seven key areas you need to consider for ecommerce automation that can be streamlined to get desirable results:
- The customer experience (CX) and support
- Digital Marketing
- Approval of orders
- Vendor/Supply Connectivity
- Order management
Automate Customer Experience and Support
Every company in the eCommerce business is looking for a roadmap to stand out from the crowd. Many of them are turning to customer experience (CX) as a discriminator. The following are five ideas for workflow automation to enhance CX.
1. Reward The Promising Customers By Track And Follow Strategy
For all types of businesses, customer satisfaction is a life-saving dose.
The probability of selling to an existing customer is much higher than that of selling to a new one. You can use simple automation techniques to track and reward the most engaging and promising customers. Efficient workflow automation tools let you engage specific customers for a specific product based on what they use to buy the most. You can then set business criteria to engage the right people for the right product by targeted marketing. You might, for instance, automatically send a discount voucher by email to a customer for spending a specific amount as per your business criteria.
2. Sync your customers to an email list
Email marketing is the spirit of eCommerce businesses. Strategic, targeted marketing campaigns are an intelligent way to boost sales. Most businesses use a dedicated platform for their email marketing and it’s very easy to automate the process to make it hassle free.
The best way to automate workflow in this way is by syncing an email service with your CRM system. Take, for instance, a customer that shows an interest in a specific product or a category of product. You can have them automatically added to a relevant email list. Those specific customers will then start getting targeted marketing material relevant to their interests and buying patterns.
3. Gather feedback after a purchase
If you’re going to improve Customer Experience, you must first know what customers think of your products. The best way to know this is by simply asking them, feedback. Customer feedback is what tells you about your weaknesses and strengths, you can improve or substitute your products or services later on.
You can automate the process of collecting the feedback automatically. With a workflow automation tool, you can automatically send follow-up emails to show customers that you value their concerns and feedback.
4. Reach out to negative reviews
It’s human nature to complain about dissatisfaction more rapidly than leaving a complement. When your company gets a negative review, you need to respond quickly. Again, doing so reveals to the customers that you care about solving their problems and concerns.
Workflow management via automation ensures that no negative review will slip through the cracks. For example, a customer-rated brand out of five stars. You can develop an automated model that extracts all reviews with two stars or less. You can then refer those reviews automatically to a customer service department.
5. Tag and segment customers based on buying behavior
Knowing and tracking customer’s buying patterns and behavior can give you a wide window. An important factor in observing customer behavior is categorizing your list. It means, dividing your customers according to their demographics. You can categorize them by age, gender, region of interest.
This categorical segmentation helps you enhance your service to different kinds of customers as per their needs. It’s a lengthy task that you can completely automate with efficient automation tools. The data required for this purpose are readily available in your order management systems. Automation tools can learn from this data and extract patterns to discriminate and categorize customers in different ways without any assistance from staff.
Workflow Automation and Marketing
Only by expanding the wings in a market by winning more customers can you assure growth. Customer acquisition is the fundamental priority of any marketing campaign. By doing so, you have to inform more and more people about the availability of your product, in a manner that convinces them to become your regular customer. There are ways to improve this crucial part of your business with workflow automation, too.
1. Schedule social media posts automatically
What is the reason online businesses give so much time and attention to social media marketing? Social media is an important marketing medium for all eCommerce businesses around the globe. The number of social media users is continuously ascending. More than 50% of social media users prefer to search for products using their preferred platform.
By utilizing automation techniques and tools in this area, your business can enjoy the rewards of social media presence without draining so many precious staff-hours. There are plenty of online applications and tools out there to automate your social media marketing campaigns.
2. Nurture leads with continual marketing
Not all customers will bother to visit your site, find a product, and buy it straight away. Many of them may come back several times. In between, they may spend time researching and considering other products or the same product from the other brand and compare prices and perks offered by you and other retailers.
If you have their contact information and permission to contact, you can influence their decision. That’s the main idea behind lead nurturing.
You can automate a process by which people can get useful, appealing marketing content. Things you may think of adding to your marketing strategy can vary. It could be discount vouchers or value-adding articles about the benefits of products to clear possible myths from user’s minds that make them refrain from buying. The best way to achieve this goal is by extracting real-time data of customer behavior.
Purchase Order Automation
Even what may appear like the most difficult or time consuming part of your business process, it can be automated. By using eCommerce automation in this area of workflow, you can get purchase orders raised according to incoming sales thus efficiently maintaining the supply-demand equilibrium. Whenever an overwhelming sale wave reduces your stock to a forecasted level, the order can be generated automatically. You can also make rules about first choice suppliers for different products.
Purchase order tracking is also more efficient with workflow automation. You don’t have to strain your eyes, looking for the data in stock sheets, emails, and other records. Everything gets done by itself within a single management system.
Vendor and Supplier Onboarding
Change is something that can always cause upheavals in the business world. A simple example is when you have to change vendors or add a new supplier. There’s lots of information to transit between your company and the vendor. You’ll need to share payment and tax details. In the meantime, you’ll also need to get a new supplier to keep your systems and procedures running.
All that stuff consumes time, money, and energy. An intelligent and automated vendor portal can lessen that burden from the shoulders of your worker. You can exchange all important details with the vendor via an online interface. It’s much faster, efficient, and lets your team stay productive in other important areas without stressing out for this lengthy process.
Workflow Automation for Order Management
The most transparent order management process is what provides the customers with a way to track the progress of their orders from the beginning to the end. It’s a parallel business process that overlaps with project management, customer service, and other key areas.
1. Shipping labels
The dispatch and delivery of orders is a very important part of every online business. Canceled or failed deliveries can be huge burdens in the long run, if ignored completely. Most of the time, errors in distribution occur due to small mistakes only. A worker on the order receiving side might type a wrong address on a shipping label, or the mistake is made by the customer and other communication barriers could be a reason.
Workflow automation helps you overcome this problem by making shipping error free, quicker and more efficient. Deploying such automation means you can get multiple tasks done with a single click. From printing correct shipping labels to accurately marking orders as dispatched, it releases the load and lessens the probability of error.
2. Send reminders for customers to reorder
Your connection with customers shouldn’t break after a single purchase for they are your patrons. Post-sale support and continued marketing as we discussed earlier are crucial to holding your customer.
How can you convince the customers to buy your product once they want it again? If you know when a customer will need to buy a product, you can use email service as an eCommerce automation to send reminders at precisely the right moment. It ensures that customers are going to buy from you again. You could even add a discount voucher in your email reminders to influence their decision to buy.
3. Send abandoned cart emails
Almost 70% of shopping carts remain deserted. If you are missing out on your customers, deserted cart reminders are a tested way to win some of them back.
Many tools can record when a shopper leaves their cart without purchasing on your site. After a certain time, a reminder email can be sent automatically to win the customer back. The best thing about this process is that the email can be customized. The body of the email can mention the products they added, and let them know why they should buy those deserted items.
Automate Inventory Management
Inventory management is another important but time-consuming activity in all online stores. Improper tracking and management of stock can lead to disaster. Understock, and you won’t be able to meet the important orders. Overstock and you’ll be wasting important warehouse space. By automating your inventory management process, you can make warehousing more spacious and your stock up to date.
ECommerce automation tools can make the following tasks performed automatically:
- Your sales system accepts a new order.
- The inventory management tool allocates stock to the order. You can even set principles to ensure it arrives from the most trusted warehouse.
- A ‘ready for dispatch’ flag gets attached to the order in the system.
- Details of the order, shipping labels, and all other relevant information get sent to the warehouse management.
- Team members in the warehouse can make the stock ready and send it out.
- The stock removal is recorded and new inventory volume is updated.
- If stock levels reach a predetermined low level, it triggers an alarm, in a few cases, can even automatically book a purchase order with your vendor.
Most online stores depend on customers to find their sites and buy products. If your firm has a sales team, automated workflows can make their duties and lives easier. Automating sales tasks can free up your sales team to do what they do best. Automated workflows in CRM systems automate processes, so all sales personals need to do is just a click.
Salespeople can develop processes for recording all call details and data. That information is then at the sales agent’s fingertip whenever required. By tracking calls with efficiency, sales staff can refrain from making mistakes that may lose them a deal.
5 Steps for Deploying Workflow Automation Into Your Ecommerce Business
For now, you are familiar with how useful it can be to automate your business and what are the perks to do so. Deploying workflow automation software could cast a huge impact on your efficiency. But how to integrate workflow automation tools into your existing business model? It’s easier than you think.
1. Identify repetitive tasks
We’ve discussed in detail the different types of business processes or domains that can be automated. The first step towards automation is to extract those most applicable.
Relax and observe the current operations. Mark hurdles and Repetitive mistakes in your daily tasks that may harm your productivity. There must be weaknesses that you need to filter out by integrating the required automation solution.
2. Define business goals
Once you’ve figured out the weaknesses in your existing operations, you can ponder over the solution to eliminate those weaknesses. Consider the extent up to which you want to enhance efficiency.
For instance, if you observe that staff is wasting time manually handling stock for orders, your objective might be to dispatch more orders per day than the existing routine by streamlining your inventory workflow.
3. Select the right workflow automation solution.
With a certain objective and mindset, you know where and how to find the workflow automation solution. Consider the aforementioned example; you’ll be looking for a tool to handle stock management, the fulfillment of orders, and other logistic processes.
You can then begin accurately comparing your options. Check out the functionality of different automation tools available in the market and you’ll be able to choose the right tool as a solution to your problem.
4. Users Training
Even the top of the line IT solutions lose their efficiency if end-users fail to get the most out of them. After the appropriate tool selection, train your workers first before investing time and effort to completely deploy it.
Some business owners neglect this important area and complain later on. Train every employee of your firm who’s going to use a new system. This is the only way to ensure productivity.
5. Measure. Measure. Measure
Everything in the business world is Dynamic. When you introduce a new IT Solution you can’t simply deploy and forget it. Examining the impact and performance of the new solution is crucial to discover errors if any. You might also want to gauge what should be added or eliminated from the system to make it more efficient.
Ecommerce Automation Tools
OE by Shopdev allows retailers to turn stores into distribution centers, optimize inventory allocation and reduce fulfillment time & costs with advanced order routing algorithms. The platform functions as the control unit for all ecommerce operations, automating online orders from multiple touchpoints to match the best location with the product in demand.
It offers a powerful inventory and order management system that keeps track of the stock levels and inventory status efficiently.
Instead of letting you waste a lot of time typing everything, TextExpander, offers you a marketing automation tool that keeps a record of all your text snippets in one place.
This eCommerce tool allows you to access more than 200 applications and platforms from a single place and free yourself from wasting time while switching between tasks and tools.
Zapier is one of the best eCommerce tools that let you connect all your tools and apps to a single access point.
It is a great platform that streamlines most of the domains of store inventory management.
OptinMonster is one of the most powerful conversion optimization tool that exists in the market today.
It is one of the leading ecommerce tools that are very popular for setting up and managing email campaigns.
Zendesk is a powerful CRM tool that handles almost all domains of customer relationship management.
This top of the line intelligence tool is essential for stores to keep an eye on the competition and market insights.
This eCommerce tool allows you to market your online products on multiple social media channels at a single time.
Automating workflows enhance both efficiency and productivity. Technology can perform complex tasks far more quickly and more accurately than human beings. To stay competitive and scale, you should focus on identifying and engaging the right tools.
Feel free to get in touch with us if you need any help in identifying and implementing the best tools and practices for your business.