Retail e-commerce is a $4.9 trillion dollar industry averaging over 21 billion monthly visitors to global retail sites. If you’re looking to increase profits, maximize your reach, and grow your business, automation is the key. In fact, in a 2021 study done by McKinsey & Company, 70% of respondents reported at least piloting automation technologies in one or more areas of their organizations.
Ecommerce automation is using software and technology to automate specific tasks and processes to make your ecommerce business more efficient. Increased efficiency will save you time and as the old saying goes, “time is money”.
Automation can be as simple as setting up an automatic follow-up email that confirms a customer’s purchase from your website. Or it can be a predictive AI that uses machine learning to send out personalized messages to customers. Just like the way Netflix makes suggestions on what you should watch next based on your past viewing history.
Automation can be used to streamline every aspect of ecommerce workflows by taking care of time-consuming repetitive tasks. In a Hubspot report, 78% of media planners report using automation. And according to Nucleus Research into marketing automation, for every dollar invested in automation, your ROI (return on investment) can reach over six dollars.
We’ve gone over what ecommerce automation is and that everyone is doing it. Now let’s explore exactly how it will help you.
Your basic sales funnel looks something like this
Automation can boost the efficiency of every single step in the sales funnel workflow of your online business. From acquiring customers to when they checkout. It helps reduce manual tasks like inputting customer data or updating inventory and reduces the chances of human error.
For example, in the marketing stage, one of the main things you need to keep track of is sales leads. That means keeping track of possible or future customer contact information and customer interest in different products. Think of the hours you’d use up entering customer data into a CRM or in your own spreadsheets. If you automate that process, you could have customers enter their own information when they visit your site and have a customer profile automatically created and tracked whenever they interact with your ads or store.
Because your business has become more efficient that will increase the productivity of your team and allow for more collaboration. That means you reduce labor costs—your team doesn’t have to spend their time doing repetitive tasks. Instead, they can focus on creating innovative ideas to increase your sales leads.
A McKinsey & Company study found that 45% of employee time could be automated by adapting currently available or demonstrated technology. Nucleus Research reports marketing automation drives a 14.5% increase in sales productivity and a 12.2% reduction in marketing overhead. Imagine how much more you and your team could accomplish with almost four extra hours in your eight-hour workday and over 10% in extra marketing funds.
One of the more difficult parts of running a business is generating sales leads. You’re always in search of finding new customers and encouraging past customers to come back and shop at your ecommerce store. One of the best parts of automation is the ability to track key performance indicators (KPIs) for your marketing campaigns, website traffic, etc.
For example, with software like Triple Whale’s Creative Cockpit you can track the marketing efficiency ratio (MER/ROAS) of the Facebook and TikTok creatives you’ve created. That means getting real-time data on how target demographics are responding to your marketing campaigns on those platforms. It also allows you to adjust the cost per click (CPC) and cost per mile (CPM) for individual ads.
Having data like this automatically compiled for you will save you time so that you aren’t waiting weeks to see if your ad campaigns worked. It will save you money, so you don’t keep pumping money into ad campaigns that aren’t working. And all of that will end up helping you target better sales leads which will lead to more likely sales conversions.
A McKinsey & Company study shows that more than 30% of sales activities can be automated to improve efficiency and effectiveness. You can automate almost every part of your business. Let’s break down what areas would most benefit from automation.
In the Hubspot 2022 marketing trends report, 43% of marketers say automation and AI have been the most effective trends for their organization’s growth. One way to get the most out of automating your marketing campaigns is through personalization.
In fact, Forbes reports that personalization can increase overall consumer spending by 500%. Personalization refers to things like:
Social media has become a key part of any ecommerce marketing strategy. In 2021 there were over 3.8 million sponsored ads on Instagram alone. Along with that, the influencer market has grown and a key part of any social media marketing strategy includes working with influencers. In fact, Statista reports that the influencer market is worth over $16 billion dollars today.
Creating an automated onboarding process for influencers and collaborators will help you remove any logistical headaches so you both can focus on the creative side of your collaboration. This will save both parties time and money and will make you and your business seem more organized and professional so that influencers will feel good about working with you.
When talking about marketing you must also talk about tracking your marketing efforts. Automating the gathering of KPIs helps you improve how your marketing campaigns perform.
There are even ways to get in-depth automated reporting. Software like Triple Pixel will not only help you with click tracking it will also track the attribution of all your marketing campaigns. That way you’ll know where your target audience is seeing your ads and which social media platforms are gaining you the best results.
Learn More: Triple Pixel: Everything You Need to Know
The Harvard Business Review reports that acquiring a new customer can cost up to five times more than simply retaining one. One of the best ways to use automation is to improve the customer experience. That will increase customer satisfaction which will increase customer loyalty and that will make them repeat customers. Repeat customers are known to spend an average of 67% more than first-time customers.
Furthermore, as each customer becomes a consistent repeat customer, the LTVs (lifetime value) for each customer will increase. Just think, one customer doing hundreds of transactions with your company over their life time is at least five times more valuable than having hundreds of customers making one-time purchases.
One of the most effective customer service automations is the implementation of a chat bot for customer support. You can setup these bots to answer FAQs so that customers can get answers quickly as well as get that one-on-one feeling of service that they might miss receiving in a brick and mortar store.
The Harvard Business Review reports a case study where a European telecommunications firm implemented an IBM Watson-based chatbot to improve its customer service operation. This brought an increase to 10% of total activations with 6% margin improvement. Now, 26% of the calls are fully managed by the chatbot without human intervention.
The Economist reports that shipping and acquisition costs have gone up. The average cost of a shipping container is now four times higher than a year ago. That’s why it’s even more important to find ways to automate your supply and distribution chain.
Keeping your inventory management accurate will help with reordering as well as prevent items from being out of stock. That way your customers will never buy something you don’t have in stock and you don’t have to go through the process of refunding money and losing customer confidence.
You can also automate the onboarding of vendors and suppliers. That way if you ever need to change suppliers you can have the necessary information automatically sent to new vendors and suppliers. This will avoid any misunderstandings and mixups and allow your business to continue running smoothly.
One of the more obvious automations is having shipping and return labels automatically generated when a customer purchases a product. This will save you the hassle of having to manually create labels for each purchase made at your store. For example, if you have a hundred orders in a day and you spend 2 minutes on each shipping label that’s already over three hours of work.
That’s not even mentioning if a customer wants to return a product. The hassle of going through the return process. If you’re return process isn’t automated you’re not just losing money because you’ve refunded the purchase amount, you’re also losing hours of work processing the return yourself.
This logistical automation is one of the reasons why Amazon is so successful. Amazon’s streamlined return policy is one of the reasons why customers don’t hesitate to buy from Amazon. Because they know that there’s no risk and if they don’t like what they receive for any reason, they can easily return items with minimal hassle.
Your ecommerce business processes need ecommerce automation tools. Look for software that has the automation systems your looking for. Start with checking out companies like Triple Whale or Shopify that offer a suite of programs designed to fit the individual needs of your online store.
Make sure that the integrations and automated workflows work for your business. If you spend a little time getting used to the new technology of automated software you’ll save yourself a lot of work, a lot of money, and help your business grow.
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