Almost no one is a stranger to ecommerce, it’s a part of daily life for most people. That is reflected in the most valuable company in the world, which happens to be Amazon. Of course, most ecommerce businesses aren’t even close to the popularity of Amazon, but there is still room for smaller businesses. Ecommerce platforms like Shopify have made it exceptionally easy to start your own online store. But when it comes time to scale, many business owners are left scratching their heads: how can it be done without spending an unreasonable amount of money?
The right way to grow your business is by saving time, saving money and selling more. Of course, selling more is not a problem for growing ecommerce businesses but that is usually accompanied by an increase in operational expenses. Because of this, most store owners are intimidated by the idea of growing, as it can bring on unforeseen costs with it.
Moreover, even if the business decides to scale, the operational expenses, complexity and demands can simply skyrocket. Attempting to solve this problem by throwing more money at it and hiring more people is a temporary solution. in order for an ecommerce business to truly scale, it needs to turn to ecommerce automation. Ecommerce automation is done with the goal of saving one precious commodity: time.
Ecommerce automation is a strategy that comprises of software, hardware and process that allow an ecommerce organization to:
- Minimize redundant tasks and automate repetitive manual processes
- Promote integration between multiple (disconnected) management systems
- Simplify workflows
Hence, ecommerce automation isn’t simply a piece of software which has a button with ‘automate’ written on it. It’s a business strategy, one that takes a lot of effort to execute.
However, for an ecommerce business to scale properly, automation is one of the most crucial steps to take.
Let’s take a look at some common processes in a typical ecommerce operation which can be optimized through automation.
You do not have to send people ‘into the field’ to gauge interest in a product. Surveys are still useful, but there are definitely better and less time-consuming ways of doing product research. Simply use tools like:
These tools will provide you with excellent high level information. Of course, they do require technical skill but in the end, their data will take out much of the guesswork that is involved in product research.
WooCommerce is the obvious choice for many new store owners, but there are better and more streamlined options out there. Shopify is probably the best ecommerce platform out there due to its affordability, plugin ecosystem, built-in features and excellent customer support.
Stop spending money on store development when solutions like Shopify and BigCommerce handle all of that for you. They cost a fixed amount of money each month and are constantly being updated with the latest security features.
There are many tools available today that automate much of the operational workflows of an ecommerce organization. A popular example is Oberlo, which automates several parts of running an online store. It is mostly used as a tool to import products being offered by suppliers, and then just display them on your store. Once a customer orders the product, the order is automatically forwarded to the supplier along with all the customer details.
Shipping and fulfillment is thus handled by the supplier, which of course saves you time and money. Offering more products this way is a great way to scale, but you’ll be avoiding the operational hassles that usually accompany this sort of growth.
Ecommerce owners can save a lot of time and money by implementing some marketing and advertising automation tools for their ecommerce business. One such tool is Buffer for Shopify, which allows you to automate social media posts for your ecommerce page. What’s more, this tool is free to use. Posts can be prepared beforehand and then scheduled to be posted at specific intervals.
Likewise, Kit for Shopify allows store owners to leave the task of creating Facebook and Instagram ads to the app. It comes with a host of automated marketing actions such as retargeting ads and product promotion (ads) to customers.
Generally, an ecommerce organization as a whole will benefit from automation of repetitive and certain manual processes. However, there are certain roles who will benefit the most from it.
Operations managers benefit from a number of automated workflows provided by ecommerce automation. For example, if stock gets low, the automation software can automatically generate an alert for it, and give you an option to email the supplier for a restock.
Similarly, items that are out of stock or have been discontinued can simply be removed from the store all together. The automation software should be intelligent enough to publish these items back to the store once they’re in stock.
For bigger ecommerce organizations, the gap between the marketing department and the operations department is often quite wide. While marketing is busy promoting the company’s products, operations is busy keeping stocks and inventory in check.
Clever organizations will often have a clear line of communication between these two teams. But emails and phone calls are simply not as streamlined and efficient as automated system-generated messages. With ecommerce automation, marketing will be automatically informed by the system when an item goes out of stock. This way, the marketing team can immediately cease all advertising and promotion of that particular item and direct the ad spend on an available product.
The information shared in this article makes it quite apparent how ecommerce automation can really help in the growth and scaling of an online store. It saves time and money, but in return asks for a little research and investment into different automation tools.
The more processes an organization can automate, the more money it will make in the long run. There is a lot of opportunity in this space as automation tools get more advanced and are able to tackle more complex parts of an ecommerce business.
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