As consumers shop and purchase on new online platforms and businesses of all kinds battle rising costs, tools that help automate aspects of running a business are more important than ever.
Here, we’ll discuss the process of eCommerce automation, how it can benefit business operations, and how to start using eCommerce automation tools to streamline your business and reach new customers.
What is eCommerce automation?
Ecommerce automation is the process of automating certain eCommerce tasks to help a business save time and money. It can help eliminate manual or repetitive tasks that are often part of running an online business or eCommerce site and can free up time for a business or its staff to focus on other, bigger-picture business components — such as customer service, marketing efforts, or growth.
What are the benefits of eCommerce automation?
The benefits of eCommerce automation can largely depend on a business’s needs, but these are some of the most common benefits of automating the eCommerce process:
Save time: Automating manual and repetitive eCommerce tasks — like data entry or manual inventory management — frees up time, which is especially valuable when a business is spending a considerable amount of its time completing manual tasks.
Staff retention: Automating repetitive tasks can free up time for staff to focus on new or more interesting aspects of the business, like serving customers or working on marketing. If your staff is more engaged in their work, you’re more likely to retain them.
Ability to scale: Saving time, better retaining staff, and streamlining functions of your business allows more opportunity to scale and grow. With team members able to tackle new tasks, you’re also better set to focus on hiring and expansion.
Optimize costs: Whether you’re starting or expanding a business, optimizing business costs is essential for growth and profitability. Consolidating processes and allowing team members to use their time more wisely can help reduce eCommerce costs.
Marketing effectiveness: Automating your eCommerce process can free up time to implement marketing practices, and once you have them in place, also gives you the ability to automate and personalize them.
6 ways to implement eCommerce automation tools in your business
There are a variety of ways to start using eCommerce automation tools and strategies in your business, from basic inventory management all the way to more customer-focused marketing tactics. Here are some of the most popular and effective.
1. Inventory management
Inventory management is essential for any product-based business, but manual inventory management takes considerable time and can even result in errors or oversold products. Automating your inventory management will save you and your staff time, and also opens the door to omnichannel commerce — selling across various platforms to reach customers where they spend time — which is more important than ever as consumers turn to social and mobile commerce to make purchases.
Using an inventory management system enables you to sell online, through social channels, with mobile commerce, and in person, and your sales and inventory will automatically sync, track orders, and update to reflect your current stock.
2. Team management
The need for team management may depend on the size of your business and whether you operate in person as well as online. But if you’re expanding your eCommerce business and are hiring a staff, team management tools become essential.
Using team management tools to automate the people-oriented aspects of running your business saves time, helps reduce payroll errors, and makes tasks like scheduling, payroll, tip pooling, or time-off requests easier to streamline and manage.
3. Customer relationships
Customers drive your business, but managing customer data and relationships can take quite a bit of time and effort. It’s important to not only develop a base of customers, but to also reach out and engage them on a regular basis to keep your business top of mind.
Luckily, many aspects of building and maintaining customer relationships can be automated. As customers purchase from your eCommerce store (or other platforms, like social or in-store), you can automatically gather and track specific customer information — like sales history, loyalty points, and gift cards — through one centralized directory.
4. Marketing automation
Once you’ve established a base of customers, engaging and interacting with them is the next step. Marketing automation tools can make this time-intensive process simple and fast. You can reach new and existing customers with automated, personalized email and text messaging campaigns, whether you want to send a one-off text reminding shoppers about an upcoming promotion or email an entire list of customers a monthly newsletter.
Automated emails or texts can also help encourage customers to leave reviews of your products or your online business after they make a purchase, which is important for SEO and building consumer trust.
A loyalty program is another useful marketing strategy that fosters a customer connection with your brand and encourages repeat customers. Setting up an automated loyalty program can make purchasing from your businesses more appealing to customers with things like rewards points and incentives, and can help your business track metrics like the spending habits of loyalty customers vs. non loyalty customers.
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5. Sales and product drops
Part marketing tactic and part sales tactic, offering promotions, discounts, flash sales, and product drops are a way to get customers excited about purchasing from your business and help you move new or unsold inventory. These strategies are easy to announce through your marketing channels and can be automated to launch and end at certain times to save you from manually discounting.
With Square Online, you can schedule item updates to your online store. These item updates change the visibility or the price of an item ahead of special sales or product launches and can be scheduled for a certain date, for individual items, or for multiple items.
6. Shopping personalization
Shoppers want a personalized experience when they browse and shop online. In fact, 63% of smartphone users said they are more likely to purchase from companies whose mobile sites or apps offer them relevant recommendations for products they may be interested in, according to data from Google.
While marketing efforts can help with elements of personalization, you can leverage your eCommerce store to deliver an automated, customized experience for shoppers. With Square Online, you can highlight new products, sale items, or specific inventory for shoppers to view when they come to your online store. Customers can create accounts to automatically track their orders and purchases, save their payment information, and see personalized recommendations based on their unique purchase history.
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