It’s always a good thing to see an ecommerce business scale up and expand its repertoire of products. But when such growth happens, the business’s leadership must re-examine its core processes and see if they can still keep up.
One issue that comes up often is how many tasks should still be done manually versus how many should be automated. When that’s the case, business owners should follow this principle: if human efficiency is not enough to keep all their customers happy, then it’s time to automate.
A process that’s automated is immediately replicable, consistent, and less vulnerable to error. Having certain processes automated can help a business manage both its human and technological resources more wisely, leading to greater productivity overall. While some aspects of ecommerce are still best left to human staff—for example, generating unique content or handling complex customer service issues—some aspects will lend themselves quite easily to automation.
Below is a list of processes that you should consider automating. Doing so might improve your business efficiency in unprecedented ways.
- Fulfillment. In the field of ecommerce, the term “fulfillment” refers to the complete process of packing, shipping, and delivering goods. It can be extremely strenuous for you to take on fulfillment by yourself, especially if you have both a small team and a small warehousing facility. One way to address this problem is to hire a third-party logistics (3PL) provider who can automate core fulfillment services for you. The best ecommerce fulfillment services will seamlessly integrate your order processing, shipment, and deliveries to save you and your staff members the worry and exhaustion.
- Inventory management. You can also automate key tasks in inventory management, such updating your inventory and automatically reordering when your stock depletes to a certain level. This should help you manage your ecommerce site’s inventory in real time. It should also keep you up to date with the stocks in your warehouse and the stocks that you will have drop-shipped.
- Digital payments. Payment is another process that you should consider automating, as customers will want fast and convenient ways to transact with you. Automating linkages to common payment gateways—such as PayPal, VISA, and MasterCard—will make it easy for customers to pay you. It’s also one of the most straightforward ways to receive and manage profits on your site.
- Security measures for high-risk or suspicious transactions. For any activity that you’d consider dubious, such as bulk-buying in very large numbers, there’s the option to automate security notifications. You can also automate further responses to such transactions, like blocking the purchase or prompting the customer to input a verification code. If a customer placed such an order by accident, at least they will be notified before the purchase pushes through. If their account has been hacked or phished and they’re at risk of losing a lot of money, these automated security measures will protect them.
- Scheduling prearranged promotions and price changes on the website. Will your site put on a sale for Christmas, Black Friday, or 11.11? You can automate the system in advance to implement price drops on these dates. In addition, you can send automatic notifications to loyal customers via a mailing list. This will keep them aware of sales and promotions and draw them to your site.
Before you go about automating these processes, find out the cost, the requirements, and the lead time needed in order to do so. Give yourself and your staff members a while to acclimatize to new automated systems. Once everything is order, your ecommerce business will run on a good combination of human and technological resources. That synergy between your manual and your automated processes may be just what you need to stay relevant and competitive.