Did you know that the number of online buyers is estimated to rise to 2 billion by 2020? Here’s a bar chart showing the growth in online customers over the years.
With such staggering growth, you need to scale up your business to meet up the growing demand. Staying up-to-date with technology will not only ease your work but also help you in roping in great profits.
Ever since Amazon started using AI (Artificial Intelligence) in business, several small eCommerce businessmen are worried about what future will it hold for them. Is AI (Artificial Intelligence) only meant for the big giants like Amazon? The answer is NO, even small business can take a step towards this giant leap by using automation in their small scale business.
“10% rise in the annual revenue growth can be projected in the retail business with the help of intelligent automation capabilities.” as per IBM’s report.
What is Automation?
So what is automation?
eCommerce automation is a process of using software tools to complete several small, repetitive daily tasks automatically rather than doing it manually.
Automation can be applied to various business processes like sales, marketing, managing accounts, warehouses, logistics, generating bills and invoices, etc.
The biggest benefit of this is, you get all the time in the world to concentrate on expanding your business rather than wasting your precious energy, resources and time in doing laborious things that can be easily managed by automating.
Here’s what many marketing automation users have to say:
According to McKinsey & Company, “Based on our scenario modeling, we estimate automation could raise productivity growth globally by 0.8 to 1.4 percent annually.”
Why scale-up your business with automation today for a better tomorrow
The day-to-day work operations in a retail/e-tail store contain many tedious but essential tasks that are to be compulsorily performed by the staff. Automation of workflow can be beneficial in ensuring the efficiency of work operations every day.
Easy implementation and use
Automation can be set up in 3 simple and easy to follow steps:
- Set a trigger – begin by selecting a trigger for a particular task. For eg. create an order as soon as a customer clicks on order confirmation button.
- Set a condition– set a condition under which the task begins to run. For eg. When an order is confirmed in one of the sales channels such as eBay.
- Set an action– set an action corresponding to the condition. For eg. when the order is confirmed in eBay, send a confirmation email to the customer.
- Reduce labor hours and optimize your human resources
A right eCommerce automation solution will result in diminishing the working hours of a human resource almost by half. Whether it is generating invoices for the customers, or picking and packing list for the warehouse, or preparing shipping labels – automation can manage it all on behalf of your staff once the business rules are set in your system. This frees up their time that can be devoted to other important tasks for growing your business.
- Error-free work every time
Most of the time, document preparation and processing is prone to mistakes when done manually. This is mainly because a large amount of data is input manually.
Automation can help in reducing error by importing and exporting data from various sources and thereby reduce any chances of making an error.
For eg. when there are bulk orders, creating a picking and packing list can be difficult but with the help of sorting and automation, this task can become easy and fast. All you need to do is import the order in the system and it will generate the picking list on the basis of where a particular item is placed in the warehouse. Your staff has to simply take a print of the list and collect all the order items to pack.
- Real-time work helps in achieving operational stability
Automation has the flexibility to run the tasks as soon as the task is triggered by a condition, which means, the work starts as soon as the order is received whether it be day or night. The system automatically sends order confirmations, log payments, transfer accounting data to accounting books, and ship orders all in real-time.
This allows you to be on top of your business all the time. This being said, your organization achieves operational stability that is unbeatable.
- Raise the bar of your customer satisfaction by using automation
As mentioned earlier, since all the tasks are automated like order confirmation email, tracking shipment details, etc., the customer gets standard care with every interaction.
Real-time updates that are auto-generated from system gives your business maximum availability 24 X7 without any manpower.
This increases the trust of a customer in your portal and would compel them to come back to you from time to time.
How to use automation in day-to-day eCommerce operations?
eCommerce automation has myriad of uses and it depends on the individual how and when to make use of this functionality.
Different teams within an organization can use the automation tailored according to their needs as automation can be triggered for managing orders, inventory, shipping, returns, etc.
Operations use cases
The operations manager can set automation for simple repetitive tasks such as:
- Tagging a product automatically according to the product SKU, type or names for easy discoverability.
- Prepare picking and packing list automatically every day at a particular time as and when the orders are received.
- Ship orders with a particular tag by a specific service provider automatically. For instance, setting an automated trigger that if the order is coming from ‘eBay’ then ship it through USPS only.
- You can set an automation trigger that when there’s a low stock of a particular product, an email is directly sent to the supplier for placing a certain amount of quantity of that product.
- Automation rules can be also set to make the product status out-of-stock on the live website whenever the stock of a particular item gets over. This will automatically update on your website, saving you from taking the orders that cannot be fulfilled. Similarly, automation can serve you good vice-versa, it will automatically display the item available once it has been restocked in your inventory management software.
- You schedule various tasks and appoint it a specific timeline. For instance, automation can be set up for shipping all orders via FedEx from let’s say 15th July to 15th August, since you are getting a better shipping charges deal for those days.
Marketing and Customer Service use cases
- You can customize your messages, emails to the customers on the basis of customer orders items, order values, etc. by automatically tagging the orders as per the order items or value.
- You can tag a customer if he/she is a fraud and hence, the system will automatically cancel the order if it is placed by that customer again on your online portal.
- Send out thank you emails or messages automatically once the customer sends feedback or review.
- Send email(s) automatically to the regular customer for a product they wanted to buy but it was out-of-stock and is now available again in your stock. This helps in building a good relationship with your customer.
- Send loyalty program invitation automatically to the repeat customers.
Automating eCommerce processes help in reducing stress on you and your staff, achieving greater customer satisfaction as the work is error-free and thereby increasing your profitability. Automation will allow small and medium-sized businesses to increase throughput, decrease downtime, and rapidly expand their fulfillment capacity at a lower cost.
According to a 2018 Forrester report, “companies that master automation will take over their industries.” Hence, NOW is the time to switch your online business to automation mode so that you can work on your business rather than working in it.
About the Author
As a Sr. Content Writer at Orderhive, Krishna Jani helps online vendors to learn about the latest technological advancements in managing inventory, warehouse, orders, shipping and order fulfillment.