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Navigating Ecommerce Automation: A Complete Guide for Online Retailers

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Turn Gmail into a collaborative hub

Navigating Ecommerce Automation: A Complete Guide for Online Retailers

May 28, 2024
    |    
8 min read
    |    

Table of contents

Over the last decade, ecommerce has evolved by leaps and bounds. 

From simple digital catalogs to highly personalized shopping experiences, ecommerce has transformed to meet the constantly changing consumer needs.

However, with the growth of e-commerce, online retailers have had to deal with multiple challenges. 

Some of them include managing huge volumes of transactions, setting up product catalogs, defining and tracking the customer journey, and analyzing data at an unprecedented scale.

Handling all of these tasks manually can be time consuming and lead to many inefficiencies.

But, what if you could smartly leverage technology to handle these operational tasks in ecommerce at scale.

This is where ecommerce automation comes in.

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Table of Contents

What is Ecommerce Automation?

Automating these aspects enables online retailers to efficiently manage their stores by reducing the manual workload and minimizing errors. All of which leads to a smoother experience for the end customer. Considering that around 2.77 billion online shoppers are expected by 2025, such efficiencies are crucial for scaling operations.

For example, through automation, an ecommerce business can send targeted emails to customers based on their shopping behavior, update inventory in real-time, follow-up for abandoned carts, or automatically reroute orders to suppliers for dropshipping.

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Benefits of Ecommerce Automation for Online Retailers

Ecommerce automation is essential for online retailers due to a multitude of reasons:

  • Enhancing Customer Experience: Automation enables online retailers to provide a seamless customer experience. This includes automating processes and manual tasks like order confirmations, shipping notifications, and personalized marketing messages. It ensures consistency and reliability in customer interactions.
  • Scalability: As an online store grows, manual management of every order, customer communication, inventory update, and data analysis becomes rather difficult. Ecommerce automation software allows businesses to efficiently scale their operations without proportionally increasing their workload.
  • Minimizing Errors: The utilization of automation minimizes the likelihood of human errors in various processes such as inventory management and data entry, ensuring accuracy and reliability in operations.
  • Time and Cost Efficiency: Automation of repetitive and time-consuming tasks allows businesses to allocate resources and staff more effectively, focusing on strategic and revenue-generating activities rather than routine tasks.
  • Data Utilization: Ecommerce automation tools can collect and analyze customer data to derive insights about purchasing behavior, preferences, and trends, aiding in creating targeted marketing campaigns and improving product offerings.
  • Inventory Management: Automated inventory management ensures that the stock levels are updated in real-time, reducing the chances of items going out of stock or being overstocked. 
  • Improved Marketing: Automation tools can segment users based on their behavior and preferences, allowing for the creation of personalized and targeted marketing campaigns, which can significantly enhance conversion rates and customer engagement.
  • Agility: In a dynamic ecommerce landscape, automation equips businesses with the agility to adapt to market changes, customer preferences, and operational disruptions effectively and efficiently.

Usecases for Ecommerce Automation

Ecommerce automation can streamline various aspects of an online business, providing a more cohesive and efficient operational structure. Here are key areas where ecommerce automation plays a pivotal role:

1. Order Management

  • Automated Order Processing: Ensure accurate and speedy order fulfillment by automating order acceptance, invoicing, and shipment processes.
  • Inventory Updates: Automatically update inventory levels as orders are processed to maintain accurate stock counts.

Example: Imagine a customer has ordered a book from your online store. Once they click ‘Purchase’, the automations step in.

Their order details and shipping information are automatically sent to the warehouse. An employee gets a notification to pick your book from the shelves. Once it’s packed, the shipping label—created automatically—is attached to their package. Simultaneously, the inventory is updated, reducing the stock count by one. An email with the tracking information is automatically sent to the customer, while behind the scenes, the system also sends a reorder request to the suppliers if the stock levels have reached a reorder point. 

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2. Customer Relationship Management

  • Personalized Marketing: Use customer data to automate targeted marketing campaigns, such as email sequences or personalized product recommendations.
  • Customer Segmentation: Automatically categorize customers based on purchase history, preferences, and behavior for more tailored marketing.

Example: Imagine a customer has recently purchased a coffee maker from your online store. 

Through ecommerce automation, the system categorizes the customer into a segment of “coffee lovers” based on their purchase history and browsing behavior. Now, whenever your store promotes related items like coffee beans or mugs, a personalized email is automatically sent to the customer with a special discount on those items. 

This increases the likelihood of repeat purchases by offering products tailored to your customer’s interests. This entire process—tracking purchase history, segmenting the customer, and sending personalized marketing materials—is handled automatically, saving time and providing a targeted marketing approach. Personalized marketing is key to maintaining strong customer relations.

3. Customer Service

  • Automated Responses: Implement chatbots or automated email responses to address common customer queries promptly. For instance, Hiver’s auto-responders can be set up for emails you receive outside of business hours. You can let customers know what your business hours are, when they can expect a response, guide them to a knowledge base or help center, and give them an alternate contact in case of an emergency.
  • Feedback Management: Automate the collection and analysis of customer feedback to enhance service and product offerings.

Example: A customer, Alex, purchases a new backpack from an online store. 

As soon as the purchase is completed, an ecommerce automation system sends an immediate confirmation email to Alex, thanking him for the purchase and providing an order summary. Two days later, an automated email is dispatched, inquiring about Alex’s satisfaction with the backpack and requesting him to leave a review on the website. If Alex leaves a review and mentions a minor issue, the system automatically flags this feedback and notifies the customer support team to reach out to him, ensuring timely management of customer feedback and issues without manual monitoring.

4. Payment and Invoicing

  • Automated Invoicing: Generate and send invoices automatically upon order placement.
  • Payment Processing: Ensure secure and automatic payment processing, including fraud detection mechanisms.

Example: A customer, Maria, purchases a pair of shoes from an online store. 

Immediately after she completes the payment, an e-commerce automation system generates an invoice, attaching all relevant purchase information and sends it to her email address without manual intervention. 

Concurrently, the payment information is processed, and once approved, the system automatically updates the inventory, deducting the sold item and informing the warehouse to prepare the item for shipment, all while maintaining a smooth and timely flow of transactions and order management.

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5. Product Information Management

  • Product Listing: Automate the addition, update, or removal of product listings across multiple sales channels.
  • Pricing Updates: Implement dynamic pricing strategies that adjust prices based on market demand, inventory levels, and competitor pricing.

Example: An online bookstore uses e-commerce automation to manage its vast inventory of books. 

When a new title is added to the inventory system, automation tools instantly create a new product listing, populating the website with the book’s details, cover image, and price. Furthermore, during a sale, the automation system dynamically adjusts the pricing of specified titles storewide, ensuring accurate, real-time pricing without manual oversight, saving time and mitigating human error.

6. Shipping and Fulfillment

  • Shipping Solutions: Automate shipping label creation, courier selection, and delivery tracking information sent to customers.
  • Returns Management: Streamline the returns process by automating return approval, refund initiation, and inventory adjustment.

Example: An e-commerce store uses automation in shipping by integrating a tool that automatically calculates the most cost-effective and quickest shipping method based on the customer’s location, weight of the package, and preferred delivery time. 

For returns management, an automated system sends customers a pre-filled return label via email upon request. Inventory levels are simultaneously updated while triggering refunds or exchanges as per the customer’s choice. All of this happens without manual intervention from the support team.

7. Supplier and Stock Management

  • Supplier Orders: Automate ordering from suppliers based on inventory levels and sales forecasts.
  • Stock Alerts: Receive automated notifications when stock levels fall below a predetermined threshold to avoid stockouts.

Example: In ecommerce, an automated system manages supplier orders and stocks by monitoring inventory levels in real-time. 

When a product’s stock level falls below a predetermined threshold, the system automatically sends a reorder request to the supplier and simultaneously triggers low-stock alerts to the management. This ensures that the inventory is replenished promptly, preventing stockouts and maintaining a smooth sales process without manual oversight.

8. Loyalty Programs

  • Rewards Distribution: Automate the allocation of loyalty points or rewards based on customer purchases and interactions.
  • Loyalty Communications: Send automated emails or notifications about loyalty program status, points accrued, and redemption options.

Example: In ecommerce, you can use automated emails in your rewards and loyalty communication.

When a customer reaches a certain spending threshold, the system automatically sends them a reward voucher or discount code for their next purchase. Similarly, automated emails might be sent to customers on their birthdays or membership anniversaries with special offers, ensuring personalized communication that enhances customer loyalty without manual intervention from the marketing team.

How to Choose the Right Ecommerce Automation Tools for Your Business

The right ecommerce automation tool should not only address your current needs but also adapt to future demands, ensuring a flexible and enduring solution.

Here are a few factors to consider when choosing an automation tool for your online business.

  • Integration Capability: Ensure the automation tool can seamlessly integrate with your existing ecommerce platform, CRM, and other tech stack.
  • Scalability: Choose a tool that can scale its functionalities as your business grows. It should be able to handle high volumes of data without requiring a system overhaul.
  • User-Friendliness: The tool should be easy to use and have an intuitive interface to ensure your team can utilize it effectively without requiring extensive training.
  • Customization: Ability to tailor the tool according to your business processes and needs is crucial to implement automation that aligns with your operational workflow.
  • Reliability: The tool should be robust and reliable, ensuring that automated processes run smoothly without frequent breakdowns or errors.
  • Support and Training: Consider the level of customer support and training provided by the tool vendor to assist your team during the implementation phase and beyond.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Evaluate the pricing structure against the features offered to ensure it provides value for money and fits within your budget.
  • Reporting and Analytics: Choose a tool that offers detailed reporting and analytics to track the effectiveness of the automated processes and get insights for continuous improvement.

How to Leverage Hiver for Customer Service Automation

Automation in customer service plays a pivotal role in improving the efficiency of your agents as well as in enhancing customer experience. By automating repetitive tasks, your business can not only streamline operational workflows but also ensure that all customer interactions, from inquiries to complaints, are addressed promptly and accurately.

A solution like Hiver makes it easy to automate customer service without putting your agents through a lot of hassle.

Here’s how you can achieve it.

1. Automated, Conditional Assignments

Hiver’s Conditional Assignments allow you to define certain conditions or triggers, upon which incoming customer emails are automatically assigned to specific departments or individuals, enhancing efficiency and responsiveness.

For instance, if a customer emails about a return, the system could identify keywords related to “returns” or “refunds” and automatically route that email to the returns department. This ensures that customer queries reach the right personnel without delay, reducing response times and improving the overall customer service experience by providing timely, relevant assistance. 

It also helps in organizing and prioritizing support tickets, making sure that critical issues are addressed promptly.

2. Skill Based Auto Assignment

You can automatically assign incoming customer conversations to team members based on their expertise or skill-set.

This ensures that every customer query or issue is addressed by a representative with the right expertise, enhancing the quality and efficiency of customer support.

For instance, say a customer emails your support team regarding a technical issue they are facing with a laptop they purchased recently.

The skill-based auto assignment feature automatically directs the query to a support agent whose expertise lies in dealing with electronics and technical issues. This ensures the customer receives accurate and efficient help without being shuffled between different agents.

3. Round Robin Assignment

Hiver’s Round-Robin Assignment allows you to ensure that the workload is distributed equally among your team members. All active agents receive immediate notifications when a conversation has been assigned. 

In case an agent is unavailable, they can simply update their availability using a toggle switch.

For instance, imagine an ecommerce platform receives 100 customer queries in an hour, spanning various issues from order status to return requests. 

With a round-robin assignment method, if there are 10 customer support agents available, each agent will systematically be assigned 10 queries, ensuring no single agent is overwhelmed or underutilized. This organized distribution allows for faster responses and resolution to incoming queries, enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty.

4. Canned Responses

Hiver’s Email Templates is an effective way to save and share responses to commonly asked customer queries. Your agents can access these templates with ease and use them to respond faster to customer queries.

You can also personalize these templates using auto-fill variables to update the ‘To’ and ‘From’ address fields whenever you compose an email.

Aside from this, you can also embed relevant images to the email, adding visual context for further clarity. The best part is that you can do all of this without a single line of code.

Wrapping Up

Automation in e-commerce is important in giving your online business a competitive edge.

It acts as a catalyst for growth by enhancing operational efficiency, reducing manual effort, and scaling business processes.

It streamlines various functions, from order fulfilment to customer support, enabling e-commerce businesses to meet customer demands swiftly and effectively, thereby fostering a path for sustainable growth.

An engineer by qualification and a marketer by profession, Ronia loves to create research oriented, educational content for her audience. Her expertise lies in helping teams manage business communication effortlessly by diving into common questions, industry trends, and more. When not working you can find her catching up on Netflix or spending time with her dogs.

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