Ecommerce automation can bring numerous benefits to your business. It can make it run faster and more smoothly, reduce costs and increase reliability. That’s why ecommerce businesses of all sizes are actively looking for ways to implement ecommerce automation.
What is ecommerce automation?
Ecommerce automation is the strategy of using technology in place of human labour. At its simplest, it means using basic software functions such as auto-responders and schedulers. At its most sophisticated, it means using specialist hardware managed by artificial intelligence.
In the real world, most ecommerce automation falls somewhere in the middle. It uses software only, not hardware, and focuses on straightforward tasks that are usually highly repetitive in nature. It’s therefore relatively easy to create software to perform them.
The popularity of ecommerce automation has encouraged software developers to build automation functionality into their software whenever possible. For example, many apps now offer the option to schedule designated tasks. This kind of functionality can generally only handle very simple tasks but can be extremely useful.
There are also increasing numbers of dedicated automation tools and specific ecommerce automation tools. These utilise artificial intelligence to handle more complex tasks. Many also have machine learning, which takes information from one task and applies it to another.
When to use ecommerce automation
The key to using ecommerce automation successfully is to keep it for tasks where human staff add little to no value. These are typically mundane, repetitive tasks that human staff generally dislike anyway.
Benefits of ecommerce automation
Ecommerce automation has multiple benefits, with some more obvious than others. Here is a quick rundown of the main ones.
Releasing humans for value-added tasks
You’ve hired and trained staff and you’re paying for them. You want to get the best possible return on your investment. You also want to give your staff rewarding jobs. Using ecommerce automation for repetitive, boring tasks helps to achieve both goals.
Speeds up service
Ecommerce automation works at a speed even the very best human agents could never match.
Removes human error
Provided that computers are programmed correctly, they do their designated tasks accurately 100% of the time. This is more than even the best human agents can manage.
Ecommerce automations can run 24/7/365. They don’t need holidays or sick days. They never move to a new job.
Creates data automatically
Many ecommerce automations log every action they take immediately and automatically. This creates a real treasure trove of information for you to develop your business.
Examples of ecommerce automation
Ecommerce automation is used in all kinds of ways throughout the customer lifecycle. Here are some of the most popular ones.
It’s now standard for customer queries to be initially triaged by chatbots. If the bot can answer the query, it does so. If it can’t, it connects the customer to a human agent. This spares human agents the tedium of answering the same basic questions over and over again. Chatbots can also take messages when human agents are unavailable.
Many digital products and some digital services are now fulfilled entirely through ecommerce automation. This is not yet possible with real-world products and services, but it is still possible to use ecommerce automation to smooth and speed up the fulfilment process. For example, an order can trigger a message to a fulfilment centre to dispatch the item and send the tracking information to both you and the customer.
This is a major area for ecommerce automation. Many ecommerce merchants run sales from more than one location. For example, in addition to their ecommerce website, they may have a real-world store, or even more than one, and may also sell through social media. Ecommerce automation can be used to ensure that inventory is correctly synced across all of these.
Ways you can implement ecommerce automation
There are basically three ways you can implement ecommerce automation. The simplest way is to look for regular software with automation functions. The most complex way is to create your own in-house automation software.
For most merchants, the most practical option is to look for out-of-the-box automation solutions. These may need to be customised but do not need any IT development work. They can therefore start making an impact almost instantly.
Automation tools that integrate with Square
Square has a partner marketplace with literally thousands of integrations. Many of them are free and more are being added all the time. There is a whole section on integrations for ecommerce automation. Here are some of the most popular options.
sticky.io is an order-management and billing platform created specifically with ecommerce in mind. It specialises in recurring billing and is highly efficient at revenue recovery, particularly intelligent dunning.
SKU IQ is a synchronisation tool that ensures your Square POS and your online store always work in tandem, saving vast amounts of manual work, friction and frustration.
ShipBob is a third-party logistics company with fulfilment centres that cover the EU, US and Canada. They efficiently and transparently manage fulfilment so both you and your customers are happy. What’s more, they can even analyse your usage patterns and advise on which of their fulfilment centres would be best for your needs.
Easyship makes it easy to ship all over the world. If you need unrivalled coverage with access to over 250 discounted rates from global couriers, Easyship makes it happen.