E-commerce automation could be better implemented by website agencies for their clients. I’m not surprised, as it’s not really a big priority when setting up a new web store. I don’t think it’s some huge failing either, just something which gets overlooked often.
So why is e-commerce automation important? I reckon it’s because it’s one of the best ways to ensure max profitability and efficiency as an online store grows. Time is money and needs put to good use. In addition, it’s just good sense.
The concept of automation has negative connotations to many. For instance a lot of small biz owners hear ‘automation’ and think of conveyor belts and machines and outraged customers. But I’m talking automation on a much smaller scale. Most of us aren’t running Amazon-sized operations, yet.
In real life e-commerce automation isn’t some big hoop-la, it’s about reducing your own precious time on repetitive tasks. Letting technology do the boring bits, freeing you up to get on with business (or just a smug look as the competition sweats it).
Here’s a few examples of business areas ripe for automation:
- Emails to request feedback
A pretty obvious one, but surprising how few small companies actually do this properly. Feedback from customers is the only way to judge how well you’re meeting their needs. It’s potentially too a second sale in the making. Asking for feedback also proves a clever way of prising out potential order issues early, stemming the flow of any queries.
- Order processing + shipping
Shipping agents and courier companies don’t all offer decent e-commerce integrations, so be sure to check into this when reviewing your options. Data entry from A to B can be notoriously slow and frustrating. Automating shipping operations with your carrier saves valuable hours (or sanity).
- Environmental variables
What’s the weather like where your shopper is, is it warm? What’s the average income there? Is your customer in a rush or clicking-cooly? Use all the lookup technology and visitor info you can to market umbrellas to the wet, and shorts to the dry. Sell time-savers to the busy, and time-fillers to the bored. Automation can help create value for your visitors. In turn it boosts your sales and keeps you relevant in your marketplace.
Some new store owners are fearful of e-commerce automation and often think it will make their service less personal. The reality is though, that it can be implemented with as much or as little personalisation as wanted. Perfect, personal ‘hand-written’ emails for instance can still be automated.
Another common misconception is that jobs should be cut and work reduced in general. I don’t think that’s the point as real human input will always be important. I’d prefer to see stores using e-commerce automation to actually help staff. Making their time more efficient and the business more successful overall. Time saved could be spent marketing (but basically anything is better than needless admin work, right?)
Implementing this kind of automation for your web shop requires a flexible e-commerce platform. This is where Philp eCommerce can help. Our retail websites are open source and we also develop them in-house. This means any ideas to make your store more autonomous, can be brought to life quickly. Completely bespoke to your small business.
I think of this approach as “intelligent automation”. It’s one powerful and profitable approach which will grow your small business dramatically.