Anything that can be automated should be.
If you find yourself frequently repeating tasks, you should find a way to automate them—each click, each dropdown adds up. Wasting time equates to wasting money, and ecommerce businesses can’t afford to waste either. Automation is such an effective cost-cutting strategy, that some fear that it will eliminate 40% of our workforce. Whether or not these fears are warranted remains to be seen. What is currently provable is that automation saves those of us currently working a lot of time—particularly those of us running ecommerce businesses. Most of what makes an order management platform success commonly depends on how well they automate parts of a workflow that people shouldn’t have to perform.
Free up some time by having your order management system perform medial tasks like assigning orders to specific employees, or applying the right shipping service based on items ordered. They’ll do it far quicker than any human could. Furthermore, human error and dejection are more likely to occur to bored workers performing repetitive tasks. Ultimately, if an action can be applied to more than one order, you should find a way to automate it to save time in the future.
Flagging Problematic Orders
If you have flagged customers, back-ordered items, or regions/countries that you don’t ship to, having a way to make sure that you don’t process the payment on these orders and then pack and ship them is crucial. In the rush of fulfilling orders, it is always possible to let something like this squeak by. After all, “to err is human.” Automating this lets you avoid timesuck activities like reaching out to a customer, disputing charges, and dealing with customs charges for returned merchandise. Nipping this in the bud is the best course of action to take before it blooms into a problem.
Inventory is a prime example of something that humans simply cannot and should not compete with computers on. Inventory management is a big task, and auditing and keeping tabs on your stock levels is only a small part of its feature set.
Things to automate via inventory management systems:
- Low inventory warnings
- managing inventory across multiple channels (Shopify, Amazon, Magento, eBay, etc.)
- reordering inventory once it falls below a certain quantity
These are all tasks that a human worker can do, but these repetitive, time-consuming tasks are ideal for automation. Solutions like BrightPearl, SkuVault, and StitchLab can help you more effectively manage your inventory across various selling channels.
Shipping & Fulfillment
Shipping can be time-consuming, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. There are so many variables that you don’t think about until you start shipping that take time to manually configure. However, no one knows your business better than you do. Once you figure out what works best for your orders, such as shipping service and package type, automation rules can apply these actions to your orders upon import. We’ve compiled a list of automation rules that you should use to save time and money.
Parts of your shipping that you should automate:
- Assigning Priority Mail to all orders over 16 ounces
- Adjust weight to include additional packaging
- Include coupons and other loyalty rewards to preferred customers.
Transactional emails are among the most read emails a business can send. Marketing would be much easier if people were as eager for newsletters as they are for shipping confirmation emails. They have a 76% higher open rate than standard marketing emails. Crafting a top-notch transactional email is one thing, but finding a way to automate sending them to the appropriate customer requires a different strategy.
Let automation processes help send targeted emails to customers based on:
- Items ordered (special instructions, etc)
- Getting them to become repeat customers
- Promotional/holiday campaigns
Additionally, finding ways to capitalize on your branding is important. Default email templates convey the information needed, but they don’t help create any stronger customer loyalty. When a customer opens a transactional email, the main thing they’re wanting to do is to track their package. Providing a way to display this information in a more engaging and branded way helps elevate your business in the mind of consumers and can increase their loyalty to your brand.
Automation processes and automation rules require a deep understanding of your inventory, customer base, and workflow. It can also be a time-consuming initial setup process, but once these processes are in place, it is very much set it and forget it. Even if the services and programs come with a premium price tag, working with a leaner, happier crew makes it well worth it.