7 Smart Ideas to Try in Your Ecommerce Workflow Automation For Increased Productivity
Productivity is crucial to success when running an online store. You can have an amazing product and world-class marketing, but without a well-oiled machine in the background, you will fail quickly.
You need to fulfill orders, ship out items, follow up on reviews, and much more. And eCommerce workflow automation is the secret to making this as productive as possible. In this article, you’ll learn all about eCommerce workflow automation—what it is, why it’s important, and how to implement it.
What is eCommerce workflow automation?
Ecommerce workflow automation is the process of automation and streamlining tedious or repetitive tasks, allowing you to work on things that are more important. It includes order processing, shipping, sales process automation, and more.
Here's an example:
If you have an order form where customers type in their information, you could spend your time manually entering this data into your CRM or processing it with data entry software. But you don’t want to spend your valuable time doing this—you have a business to run! Instead, use workflow automation to do it for you.
You can integrate order form data with a CRM, so once a customer fills out their info, the system will automatically create a new contact and add them as a lead. You can set it to trigger this process once the customer’s order is submitted, rather than waiting for them to submit their form.
You can also integrate your CRM with your shipping software and payment gateway. So if a customer orders an item from you, workflow automation will automatically add that order to your CRM and put it on a shipment. You can set it to, for example, send out an email with tracking information as soon as the order ships, rather than you having to do this manually.
You could also use automation software for things like order follow-up emails and promotional messaging based on customer behavior, email list management, and more.
Why use workflow automation for your eCommerce site?
Automating certain workflows in your eCommerce business comes with a bunch of important benefits. Any time you save on tedious tasks is more time than you can spend growing your business.
You can focus on things like scaling your product line, improving customer service by taking into account the CSAT score, developing new features, and other important steps to take your business to the next level. Here's why you should use workflow automation for your eCommerce site:
There’s nothing worse than sending out the wrong order or forgetting to email someone with their tracking information. By using workflow automation, you can ensure that all your orders are processed correctly and that customers receive everything they need to know.
Humans are fallible. We make mistakes, plain and simple. Automating your processes reduces the risk of errors occurring in an automated system versus a manual one, saving you time and money in the long run!
Businesses are always strapped for time. Less manual work means more time to spend on growing your business!
Improve customer service
Customers are more likely to recommend you or come back if their experience is positive. Using workflow automation ensures that your customers’ orders are processed quickly and accurately, both before and after the sale. This is especially important for eCommerce businesses that rely on positive reviews.
Grow more easily
Easier business management means more opportunity. When you can focus more of your time directly on growing your company, it will be much easier to scale up and grow organically.
An automated system will process orders in a fraction of the time it would take you or an employee to do this. Plus, all the information is stored in one place, rather than scattered across multiple spreadsheets and documents.
By freeing up your time and increasing your efficiency, workflow automation will lead to more revenue. Plus, all the money you save on resources like staff members can be used elsewhere in your business.
Improve data tracking
To succeed in the industry, you need a tight grip on your eCommerce analytics. Automating workflows will allow you to track data as it comes in.
Automation helps your team members to work together from different locations. Everyone is on the same page, and everyone has access to all important data. This is key for managing a team of people running a business with multiple moving parts!
7 smart ideas to try in your eCommerce workflow automation
Read on to learn about seven smart ideas to try in your eCommerce workflow automation. This list isn't exhaustive, so there might be additional ideas that come to mind as you read through.
1. Automate your order management system
By implementing an order process automation system, you can take customer orders, process them, and track their delivery status. This makes the order process more efficient and accurate for both your team and the customer. Here are some examples of how to automate your order management system:
Print shipping labels - When an order comes in, set up workflow automation to automatically generate a shipping label!
Send customer notifications - Set up email notifications for different stages of the order fulfillment process. This will make sure your customer receives all the information they need about their shipment.
Send reminders for customers to reorder - Set up workflow automation to send customers an email about their upcoming shipment. This will improve reorder rates!
Send abandoned cart emails - If a customer abandons the site without purchasing, send them an email to let them know you have something they may be interested in!
2. Automate your inventory management system
Inventory management automation allows you to automatically update prices and product availability from your eCommerce site. It also makes it possible to track sales data, identify out-of-stock items, analyze the inventory turnover ratio, and more. Here are some ways to automate your inventory management system:
Track sales data - By tracking sales data in a separate location from the eCommerce site, you can study it and make data-driven decisions about your products and business as a whole.
Update product availability - By automatically updating the eCommerce site with new inventory information, you'll be able to provide accurate availability info to customers.
Identify out-of-stock items - If an item runs out of inventory in your retail store, workflow automation can automatically flag it as out of stock on your eCommerce site.
Identify underpriced items - By using sales data from the eCommerce system and inventory levels from the wholesale system, you can identify products that need to be repriced.
3. Automate your accounting system
Having an automated accounting system will save you time and energy so that you can focus on growing your business. A good example of automation in this area is easy payroll processing.
Here are some more ideas:
Automate client invoicing - By automating client invoicing, you'll be able to send electronic invoices without needing to do any manual work.
Automate your accounting system - If you have a separate accounting department, this type of automation will save them an amazing amount of time and energy as well!
Automate payroll processing - When it comes to automating your accounting system, having good payment and tax information is important. Automated payroll processing will make sure you're compliant with all relevant rules and regulations.
4. Remind customers about product reviews
Leaving a customer review after purchase will encourage people to buy a product or not. Be sure to remind your customers to leave these valuable product reviews.
Using an automated email marketing solution, you can send out follow-up emails in the weeks following purchase. Be sure to include a link to the product review page in these follow-up emails.
5. Implement automated customer service tools
Customers expect a certain level of support from their eCommerce sites, and if you can't provide it, your customer retention will plummet. In order to deliver good customer support, many online retailers use automated customer service tools.
Here are some ideas for great automated tools:
Integrate live chat - To make it easier for customers to contact support, many eCommerce sites choose to integrate live chat into their sites.
Unlimited vacation auto-reply - If your employees are out of the office, an automated system will let customers know their messages are being received and will be answered in a timely manner.
Chatbots - As an online retailer, you probably hear from your customers in many different ways. Chatbots allow you to automate customer service interactions on different channels like web chat, mobile apps, Facebook Messenger, and other popular messaging platforms.
Help desk and ticketing software - If you have an online help desk or chat system, integrating workflow automation tools can save you time and energy.
6. Post to social media automatically
By using automation to post to social media, you can spend more time focusing on engaging with your customers and less time updating posts. Social media automation allows you to schedule posts for times when there are fewer posts being made, which will help you get more visibility in the feed.
You can also use behavioral segmentation to send social media posts to different sections of your target audience.
7. Segment your audience
One of the best ways to get the most out of your eCommerce marketing is to divide your audience into different groups. CRM integration enables you to automate the process to your website, allowing you to send directed messages to specific groups of customers.
For example, if a certain segment of your audience only buys one of your products, you can send them offers and information for that product and forget the rest.
How to automate a workflow process
There are a number of ways to automate a workflow. You can use a software solution for this, or you can create your own process automation rules.
Here are some great tips to get you started:
Identify repetitive tasks
When you've got repetitive tasks on your to-do list, this is a good time to automate. Consider what tasks you do daily, weekly, or monthly and how much time is spent on each activity.
Define your goals
When you have a better understanding of your goals, it will be easier to automate. You can then set up processes that will help you meet these goals more easily and quickly.
Analyze your current process
After defining your goals, review the current workflow. Make a note of areas where there are inefficiencies or potential for automation.
Get started with collaborative tools
Collaborative tools allow you to automate the tedious tasks that were once assigned to an employee, like email chains and follow-ups. You'll also be able to keep more people in the loop about your company's activities. It is also good to note that the enterprise software pricing varies for different collaborative tools depending on the required features.
When you understand basic formulas for workflow automation, it will be easier for you to execute your plans. Make use of formulas in Excel spreadsheets or Google Sheets to cut down on manual data entry.
By using the Canned Responses function in Gmail, you'll be able to save time when responding to common emails that are sent from customers or employees.
As an online retailer, it's important to make sure everyone on your team understands the goals and how workflow automation will help you meet those goals. Provide training for different teams so they can begin automating right away.
Use scheduling tools
Scheduling tools allow you to automate social media posts and emails that are triggered by certain events. This removes the burden of posting to social media every day and it ensures that you are posting regularly and building an audience.
Track and measure
By tracking your progress and measuring the results, you'll be able to easily see how workflow automation has helped you meet your goals.
It will also help you determine if certain steps need to be changed or skipped. It's important to implement tracking and measuring processes, whether it's mobile app testing or Google Analytics.
Keeping up with new technology can be challenging for any online retailer, but by using the best tools available, you'll transform tedious tasks into efficient processes that will free up your time to focus on more important things.
By implementing eCommerce workflow automation for your business, you'll be able to spend less time on day-to-day tasks and more time growing your company.
Jessica Day is the Senior Director for Marketing Strategy at Dialpad, a modern business communications platform that takes every kind of conversation to the next level—turning conversations into opportunities. Jessica is an expert in collaborating with multifunctional teams to execute and optimize marketing efforts, for both company and client campaigns. Here is her LinkedIn.