Blog
No More Tradeoffs: How DTC Brands Can Maintain Resources, Time, and Budget
Last Updated:  
September 21, 2022

No More Tradeoffs: How DTC Brands Can Maintain Resources, Time, and Budget

Every ecommerce business has finite resources, time, and budget when it comes to operations. To improve any area, others must take a hit.

For example, launch a new project improving customer experience? Budget, resources, and time will increase. Try to reduce your budget, then you increase the time needed on projects. It’s always a tricky balance.

These resource, time, and budget trade-offs are true for every business owner—no matter your stage of growth. And it’s difficult to scale your store because of it.

But there is one way around it… Ever heard of ecommerce automation? 👀

You probably have, but you haven’t considered how it applies to your brand, right? This is the most common feedback I hear. And let me tell you, as an automation expert, I always enjoy the satisfaction of getting to show people the power automation can have on their business.

Automation eases your resource, time, and budget trade-offs significantly. For example, use marketing automation to manage abandoned carts? Time and resources are saved. Use automation to reduce human error and streamline order management? budget, time, and resources are saved.

In this article, I’m going to dive into a few ways brands are using automation across their entire tech stack with a tool called Alloy—and how these workflows are improving efficiency in their day-to-day operations.

First up, let’s talk about your email and SMS channels.

Two envelopes with symbols of email and a cellphone sealing them .

Email and SMS automation

I know most email and sms platforms have automation built into them, but hear me out: an automation tool is still useful for integrating data into your ESP. This data is essential to level up your your automated email campaigns and flows.

Here’s how:

Perfect your segmentation

Whether you collect data from purchases, pop-ups, surveys, or quizzes, Alloy can take that data and add tags or segment customers in Klaviyo automatically.

Let’s look at an example:

One merchant on Alloy sells multiple wine subscriptions. Once a subscription is purchased, it triggers a workflow in Alloy. Alloy will review the order to see what kind of subscription was purchased, tag the customer in Shopify with their subscription type, and pull that data into Klaviyo to segment those customers into specific lists.

From there, the wine company can send targeted flows based on the type of subscription a customer purchased, giving them the opportunity to send specific content to welcome each user and educate them about the benefits of the subscription they purchased.

DTC Brands Maintain Resources Time Budget Content

Send birthday campaigns based on loyalty data

When customers sign up for your loyalty program or make an account at your store, they usually share birthday information. So sending a personalized birthday campaign feels like low-hanging fruit.

Take these campaigns one step further. Rather than sending the standard “happy birthday!” email, what if every customer gets a horoscope-related birthday campaign on their special day?

Happy Birthday, Anna! As a Pisces, we know how powerful your emotions can be. Here are a few recommended products to get you through your happiest and saddest days.

No matter what tool this data is stored in, using Alloy, you can connect this data to your email software and set up these very specific and customized birthday campaigns. 🎂

Also, since you’re already connecting data from your loyalty tool into Alloy and your ESP, you can also set up triggers to remind customers about their loyalty points balance and recommend some products to use them on.

Upsell products in your transactional emails based on customer tags

If a customer purchases a cleanser to help with oily skin, then upselling them a moisturizer for dry skin isn’t the best move—or one that the customer will care about.

To recapture customers and give them another reason to purchase, use customer tags to upsell items that match the customer’s needs and add those upsells to your transactional emails.

You can build workflows to pull in data about a customer’s recent purchase, zero-party data from quizzes, or past purchases. Then, use that information to add specific products to your upsell emails that are based on their real interests and concerns.

Subscription automation

Ahhh, subscriptions.

99% of brands want to offer them, but there are only so many ways you can customize your program. Because of this, they pay agencies a lot of money to integrate data and customize their subscriptions.

Guess what? You don’t have to do that. Let me show you my three favorite subscription workflows:

Gift loyalty points based on a subscription pricing model

One brand using Alloy, Recharge, and Yotpo is upgrading customers to a higher-tiered subscription by assigning loyalty points based on the dollar value of the subscription. Not only does this help with new activations, but it drives a higher AOV.

How does it work?

Depending on the pricing plan of the subscription purchased, the customer is bucketed into one of three categories and assigned a certain number of loyalty points. The more they spend, the more loyalty points they earn.

When a new subscription gets created, the customer automatically receives a certain amount of loyalty points. For example, if they spend between $41-$100 on a subscription, they receive more points than if they only spend between $1-$20.

DTC Brands Maintain Resources Time Budget Content

What if the customer refunds their order or there’s a failed payment on their credit card? No problem.

If the subscription ends up being refunded, there’s an additional workflow to take away the loyalty points that a customer had earned from the order:

DTC Brands Maintain Resources Time Budget Content

Swap SKUs automatically every month or season

At Alloy, there's a merchant who sells puzzles. However, they only keep 8-12 designs in stock at a time. Every few months, they bring in new designs (and say goodbye to older ones).

They wanted to offer customers a subscription program, but they needed an easy way to make sure customers would receive different puzzle designs every month. (No one wants to receive the exact same puzzle every month, right?)

Subscriptions don’t have to be difficult to manage just because you sell seasonal goods.

For example, whether you launch new beverages based on the season, let customers try new candle scents based on the time of year, or simply have a store with only 8-12 SKUs, it should be easy for you to swap your products for returning subscription users.

This workflow is for customers who aren’t subscribing to restock makeup or skincare, for example. It’s for users who want to get something new to try every month.

What do you do? Create a workflow that starts with a date range (for example, if someone subscribes between a certain set of dates, you trigger their subscription to start at a specific point). Next, the workflow will count what order the customer is on and send them a product based on that number. This means if they got your grape-flavored soda in May, they won’t get it again in June.

Every time a customer receives their monthly subscription, they have something new to enjoy. And you don’t have to do any additional work on your end to make that happen. 👌

Reward recurring customers for subscription loyalty with discounts

If your subscription program has a high churn rate, consider this retention strategy: reward customers for their loyalty with quarterly discounts.

What does this mean?

Essentially, when a customer subscribes, if they make it to their third subscription they get a 10% discount. When their sixth month rolls around, they get a 20% off if they’re still subscribed. By the ninth month, they get a 30% discount.

The longer they stick around, the more benefits they can reap.

DTC Brands Maintain Resources Time Budget Content

Obviously, the discount percent you offer can change depending on what you want to give customers. This is just an example of how subscription automation can be used to incentivize customers for their loyalty.

Helpdesk automation

When you think about customer support automation, your mind probably goes to chatbots and other tools that make customer support feel icky, right?

The truth is, customer support automation isn’t about taking the human element out of your support channels—it’s about automating some of the repetitive tasks that keep your reps from being able to go above and beyond for customers.

That’s why I recommend these three workflows:

Pull data from any platform into a Gorgias widget

In Gorgias, when you have an open chat with a customer, it will automatically pull in data from their Shopify account. This helps your support team quickly reference information about the customer they’re chatting with.

While these widgets automatically pull in Shopify data, Gorgias does offer an API for you to build a widget with data from other platforms and tools.

So if you’re using a tool that isn’t integrated with Gorgias, you can use Alloy to make this integration seamless by creating a workflow that pulls in data from another tool to populate the same important customer information in the widget.

Personalize your customer support

Here’s a great example that Eli Weiss, Director of Retention and CX at Jones Road Beauty, uses…

Jones Road Beauty runs a campaign where if a customer texts “MATCH,” it means they want to work with a skincare specialist to find the right skin tone for Jones Road’s products.

When this text is sent, Alloy creates a webhook that captures that information from the brand’s Attentive app and creates an internal Gorgias ticket with the customer’s email.

DTC Brands Maintain Resources Time Budget Content

From there, Alloy automatically sends that info to a makeup artist on the team, and those makeup experts reach out to the customer with a message asking them to share an image of their face in natural light.

Once the customer replies, the team follows up with the right shade of products the customer should use. 😍

DTC Brands Maintain Resources Time Budget Content

Create weekly or daily satisfaction survey reports

In Gorgias, you can close conversations with customers by asking them to complete a quick satisfaction survey. The customer can rate their experience with the agent they worked with between 1-5 stars.

Using Alloy, you can pull all of your satisfaction survey metrics into a Google sheet on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis. Then you can easily learn which customers had a positive experience versus those who did not.

Google Sheets and reporting automation

You’re reading this blog on the Triple Whale site, which means you understand the importance of data. 😉

Let’s talk about a few ways you can automate your reports and data migration:

Autogenerate purchase orders for product ingredients

L'amarue, a skincare brand, has a team of just two: a mother-daughter co-founder duo. Since these two oversee and manage L'amarue's manufacturing and sourcing processes by themselves, they realized they were spending a lot of time organizing and ordering the right ingredients for each product they sell.

As a skincare brand, one product alone can have around 25 different elements, so it's challenging to track all the ingredients for each SKU and their quantities.

With Alloy, L'amarue has a single Google Sheet as its source of truth, which includes all of the ingredients the team has in stock and the quantity of each. If there's an ingredient in the sheet that dips below a certain amount, Alloy triggers a purchase order by creating an invoice in QuickBooks. The team also gets a slack notification about the order simultaneously.

The only manual work on Ande's end is taking the PO and sending it to the supplier.

Combine real-time metrics

Every app collects multiple data points—beyond just customer data. Information like engagement, customer actions, order numbers, and how much customers spend is helpful to view in one place, so you can make data-driven business decisions.

With Alloy, you can combine metrics in real time into a single Google spreadsheet. You can create a workflow to pull each data point you’re interested in collecting and make sure it all goes to the same sheet. Once this workflow is triggered, it will automatically pull in information every time a user takes action, updating your Google sheet instantly.

You can see how some of these workflows can get pretty long and complicated. However, once they’re created, you can be sure that all of your information is properly flowing to the right places.

And that will make your life a-heck-of-a-lot easier.

Calculate your order profitability

When we first started working with Inked Gaming, they wanted help calculating order profitability in an easy way. To do this, you need to see your shipping costs in relation to how much each customer spends per order.

But no one has time to sit there and calculate each and every order... Especially for a brand like Inked Gaming, which has semi-custom SKUs where different configurations cost different amounts to complete.

Here's what we did: we connected Inked Gaming's ShipStation account with Shopify. Then, we created a workflow to pull the shipping costs and order information from each order.

How does it work? When an item is placed, Alloy first checks whether it's a custom product or not.

When it's found, Alloy calculates the cost of goods sold for that variant. Next, Alloy ingests the shipping cost that the customer paid.

Since shipping costs aren’t always indicative of the real cost of shipping (due to free shipping promotions and standardized costs), the real shipping cost is determined only after the item is shipped. Alloy waits for that data and calculates the profitability percentage on an order-by-order basis.

Next, in the same workflow, Alloy takes the order profitability data and syncs it to a Google Sheet for Inked Gaming's team to review in real-time.

This workflow is quite large, but to give you the gist of how detailed Alloy’s tool can be, check it out!

DTC Brands Maintain Resources Time Budget Content

Logistics and operations

There’s so much behind-the scenes work at every brand—preparing orders, estimating your future inventory levels, tracking, oh my!

What if I told you that you can use back-office automation to let your operations run on autopilot? Here, check out these three popular examples:

See who picked specific orders from your warehouse management system

There are a lot of ways automation can save your team time, but one of the most under-appreciated use cases is simply being able to streamline data to view everything in one place.

The team at Burberry realized this, which is why they built a workflow to connect their warehouse management system (WMS) tool with Shopify to see who picks specific orders at the warehouse.

Why?

Now the team never has to leave Shopify to get this order information. Additionally, they can add tags to the Shopify order based on who picked it and when saving them time from having to click in and out of various software.

Not to mention, this adds an extra layer of quality control in case someone in the warehouse picks the wrong item or if an item arrives damaged. 😤

DTC Brands Maintain Resources Time Budget Content

Control your inventory to avoid overselling products

It’s not a good look for your client’s business if customers purchase a product and get an email later that says the item is actually out of stock. It’s disappointing, and most customers will end up asking for a refund and finding a brand that can fulfill their order instead.

Thankfully, you can avoid letting this happen with a bit of automation magic. 🪄

For big sales events and holidays, you can create an automated workflow that gets triggered in real time when your inventory hits a certain quantity. When it starts, your website pushes back “zero” to buffer the rest of the inventory you have. The product will then display as “out of stock” on your live site, protecting you from accidentally overselling and reserving that product for when your sale ends.

If you don’t want to mark the product as out of stock, you can instead have the workflow send a notification to a Slack channel to let your team know when a SKU has met a certain threshold.

Then your team can keep a close eye on that product to make sure it doesn’t oversell.

Streamline vendor order management

Some brands work with multiple vendors to create and ship products. In those situations, it can take a lot of time to reach out to each vendor every time a new order is placed and manually update a Google sheet with all the correct order information.

I mean, maybe it's okay if you get five orders a week, but what if they’re getting hundreds? That manual process can take up a lot of time. What if you had a tool that could automatically break out each individual order by line item, add it to a Google sheet associated with the suitable vendor, and send a notification to the vendor to add their information?

Essentially, Alloy becomes the vendor order management system.

Using product tags, you can add information about which vendor it comes from to individual products. By adding an "Iterate" logic block, Alloy will review each line item in customer orders to look for those tags.

Let's say a customer purchases three items. Two of the items come from vendor A, and the last item comes from vendor B. After Alloy circles through each item to pull the product tag, it sends an email to each vendor.

For the first two items from vendor A, Alloy sends an email notification asking the vendor to update the available tracking information and quantity. The same happens for vendor B, but they get their own email with their specific product information.

Using this workflow, merchants have a Google sheet with each 3pl that automatically gets updated with the correct information—and the vendors get an automatic prompt in real-time.

Integrating your tech stack and automating your tasks helps you work smarter, not harder

If there’s a tedious, manual task you’re tired of doing every week, it’s likely something that can be automated.

At Alloy, the goal is simple: make automation accessible to all business owners. Removing repetitive work allows more people to be creatives, innovators, and outstanding employees.

Have no idea where to begin? We created an automation playbook to help you achieve your goals with automation. Or chat with our team here to find out how Alloy can help you, and keep track of your data with Triple Whale.

About the Author

Tina Donati

Content Marketing Lead at Alloy.

More Articles Like This

One tab
to replace them all

Supercharge your growth with a purpose-built ecomOS for brands and agencies.

Get Started
Start Making More Money
Start Making More Money
Start Making More Money
Start Making More Money
Book Demo
Before ...
Shopify
Ads Manager
Klayvio
Tik Tok
Pinterest
Bliss
Triple Whale