The Ultimate Guide to E-Commerce Process Automation

Let’s say your e-commerce business is growing rapidly. You’re seeing large amounts of traffic on your website and high conversion rates that are boosting revenue across the board. It all seems like a storyboard for success, right?

But then you run into your next obstacle: As your existing customer base expands, you need to provide the same level of service and quality care that people expect in order to not lose their business.

Now, think about where that growth is happening. Are all of your new customers in your own region, or are they coming to you from all corners of the world? Do you have the amount of human resources necessary to manage all of those customers and their concerns? Probably not, and hiring people to fill those gaps is only going to add more costs to your business. More people means more fixed costs, which means less overall revenue.

Is there a way to find a balance between offering good customer support and increasing your sales? Yes, indeed!

It’s a concept known as e-commerce process automation.

Using a combination of the right strategy and e-commerce automation software, you can systematise most of the tasks, processes, and methods of managing those day to day support requirements.

When set up correctly, automation actually improves your ability to provide a good customer experience. So if you’re looking for a win-win scenario, keep on reading about how to automate your e-commerce business with success and efficiency.

What is e-commerce process automation?

Put simply, e-commerce process automation is when companies use software to automate e-commerce business tasks, processes, or campaigns. The goal of all automated workflows is to improve the customer experience so that it translates into more sales at lower costs, and quality customer support that keeps shoppers engaged throughout the buying journey.

Many tasks, processes, and campaigns are tedious chores that place real time and financial constraints on your business. These tasks can be part of a sequence of steps to complete, such as:

By automating these repetitive requirements, you free up more time, money, and working capital among your customer support and marketing teams - all of which are resources that can be reinvested back into the business in order to scale and grow.

What is workflow automation in e-commerce?

Workflow automation is how e-commerce businesses streamline their operations and processes across multiple departments. The goal of workflow automation is to delegate repetitive tasks to software and other forms of technology so that teams have more bandwidth to handle revenue-focused objectives for the business.

For e-commerce brands, workflow automation can improve things like: • Inventory management • Delivery fulfilment • Sending cart abandonment emails • General communication with customers • Campaign creation and optimisation • Data analysis

…and much more.

If workflow automation is implemented effectively across your company, it can translate into significant time and cost savings for your e-commerce brand as a whole.

Why is automation important in e-commerce?

Automation makes businesses more agile and more efficient, which allows e-commerce brands to make more effective decisions on how to optimise existing website traffic. According to McKinsey & Co., 66% of business leaders piloted workflow automation for at least one business process in 2020. Additionally, 31% had fully automated at least one business process in 2020.

Automation is also important from the customer’s perspective. 90% of customers say they want immediate responses in under 10 minutes whenever they have support questions. Automation enables brands to create programmable responses to FAQs so that shoppers receive the guided advice necessary to satisfy their buying experience.

What are the major areas of operations for profitable automation in e-commerce?

So what are some of the most cost-saving automation measures you can implement at your e-commerce business? Keep in mind that automating every possible task out of the gate is a tall order. Start off with one area and analyse the results of your work. If the automation is having the intended effect, you can branch those efforts out into other areas of the business.

E-commerce order automation

Why it matters:

E-commerce order automation assigns all oversight of order management to software and technology. From things like inventory, order fulfilment, order tagging, and even placing a hold on high-risk orders, everything can be managed using technology, so that your customer support team can put their focus on higher priority areas of the business.

How it works:

For example, Helthjem introduced food ordering and deliveries to their stream of services at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Customers who placed orders for freshly baked goods were eager to know when they could expect their orders, and they placed many questions to the company about how their deliveries would be managed.

To help automate this process, Helthjem used an AI chatbot to manage the day to day enquiries so that the support team could make the order fulfilment process as smooth as possible. The efforts helped Helthjem achieve a 25% boost in average order values (AOVs).

E-commerce task automation

Why it matters:

Manual and repetitive tasks are tedious and often end up demoralising support staff. Automating as many of these repetitive tasks through the use of technology frees up time and resources for customer support teams to focus on other parts of their jobs. The more that people can focus on big picture solutions, the more accomplished and satisfied they feel in their jobs.

How it works:

Dressmann is one of Scandinavia’s largest fashion conglomerates, and maintains an active website with thousands of regular visitors. Unfortunately, conversion rates were not as high as they would’ve liked, and they wanted to tackle the cart abandonment rate.

They introduced conversational AI software with custom cart abandonment email templates to form more dynamic and engaging conversion paths for shoppers. The tactic proved very successful, driving a 34% increase in website engagement and a 17% improvement in AOVs.

E-commerce marketing automation

Why it matters:

Brands with high growth expectations must constantly generate new business opportunities to achieve those goals. But acquiring new customers is expensive, and it eats up a lot of marketing resources. Automating the lead generation and lead nurturing process reduces acquisition costs, while also improving conversion rates so that the company remains on the right path towards higher growth aspirations.

How it works:

Renault Sweden intended to develop an easy-to-manage buyer’s journey for their website shoppers. The goal was to book more test drives on their latest vehicles, including many hybrid models to generate more interest in eco-friendly cars.

E-commerce customer support automation

Why it matters:

Customer service is at the heart of any great shopping experience, and buyers expect e-commerce brands to provide instant answers to their questions. Sometimes, teams don’t have the bandwidth to handle the mass volume of enquiries as efficiently as customers may desire. Automated customer support software can remedy those challenges with a solution that offers instant answers to FAQs.

How it works:

Thon Hotels prides itself on quality customer service, but their support team became overwhelmed by customer demand as the business grew to its next stage. To solve the problem, Thon used an AI chatbot that could help customers book their stays and field FAQs as efficiently as possible.

The tactic worked marvellously as it led to a reduction in repetitive enquiries (such as room availability in certain hotels), ensuring faster service for the guests and more satisfying work experiences for the support staff.

E-Commerce tool automation

Why it matters:

Gathering insights from your data should be a smooth and easy-to-complete process. That’s why it’s so important to automate and integrate your e-commerce tech stack as much as possible. Integrated tech stacks simplify your ability to gather and interpret data from your user browsing experiences. This way, you save time on manual tasks and get data in a concise manner.

How it works:

Any e-commerce automation tool should support your existing site infrastructure. By integrating with your tech stack, you can enhance the insights from your site analytics with more detailed accounts of user behaviour, product category interests, and the journey undertaken to get to the points of conversion. With these advanced analytics in hand, you can further optimise your website experience in order to maximise conversions. All of this is doable in a more automated manner so you can make fast and easy decisions.

How to automate your e-commerce business

Now that we’ve highlighted some examples of how e-commerce automation can help brands, what are some of the best ways you can implement these types of solutions for your own unique business needs? Keep in mind that these are merely recommendations to help you get started. Think through what is best for your business and select how best to automate the tasks associated with those challenges as best as possible.

Method 1: Automated seasonal campaigns

Suppose you have a special seasonal promotion coming down the pipe, and you want to ramp up the demand for products related to that campaign. A Conversational AI Chatbot can showcase seasonal products (like fashion) based on how customers interact with the website. The AI chatbot deploys recommendations that are recognisable and trustworthy (dialogue-driven), helping customers get instant answers to their probing questions as well as promote high value products with the greatest chance of boosting revenue.

Method 2: User-driven product displays

Personalised shopping experiences are the key to boosting conversion rates. People want to be shown items that are unique to their needs rather than a generic product offer that has no impact on their immediate lives. AI chatbots have the ability to showcase products and product categories based on user interaction with the website. This is a great solution for brands in industries like fashion, which have many types of products that appeal to a wide swath of users. The AI chatbot can promote various fashion brands instantaneously.

Method 3: Click and collect

Some shoppers already know what items they wish to buy; they just need to know where they can make those purchases. With a sophisticated AI chatbot, you can use what’s known as a “click and collect” feature. Essentially, this feature adds products and chooses stores using variables like the geo tag to find the closest store with inventory, and it then brings recommended products to the customer based on the availability by store - a highly important solution for retailers!

Method 4: Automated loyalty program enrollment

Loyalty programs are a great way to incentivise shoppers into becoming repeat buyers and loyal customers. Sometimes, the enrollment in those programs is more tedious and time consuming than shoppers would like. However, using conversion rate optimization software, you can get more members to learn about the loyalty club when users navigate towards the checkout and then try to leave. You can offer incentives like free shipping as a reason to subscribe to the loyalty program. This way, retailers gain new members and reduce abandoned carts.

The top e-commerce automation software & tools

We’ve talked about how brands can benefit from e-commerce automation and several ways to use automated solutions to achieve your desired goals. Now, the last remaining question to answer is this: what types of automation software and tools are available to bring these scenarios to real life?

Conversational AI Chatbots

An AI-powered chatbot uses humanlike dialogue in order to answer customer questions and guide them on the easiest path toward conversion. These responses happen instantly and, unlike human support staff, chatbots never sleep. They can provide automated responses to any shoppers 24/7, and they can even be programmed to speak in multiple languages so that you can address shoppers in their native tongues.

This is one of the best ways to automate service and deliver what customers expect from your brand. AI chatbots can trigger on their own, or exist as a small bubble on the website that users can activate whenever they need help.

Conversion rate optimisation software

Improved conversion rate optimisation (CRO) is what most e-commerce brands aspire for when setting their growth forecasts. Kindly has its own version of CRO software, which is nicknamed Nudge. The Kindly Nudge provides shoppers with personalised recommendations that improve the customer experience to ultimately increase conversions.

Nudge can be programmed to deploy automated product recommendations or links to supportive articles/user guides to help shoppers get all of the information they need so they can make informed decisions. The software learns to make these recommendations based on how users interact with the website, and their machine learning capabilities allow them to learn and evolve of their own free will. This frees up your website manager’s time to focus on more constructive solutions for the business.

Cart abandonment email software

Abandoned shopping carts are a sign that shoppers didn’t get the full experience they were hoping for, resulting in lost revenue for the business. But what if you had a way to bring those lost shoppers back and recover that revenue? Cart abandonment software does just that by functioning as an email marketing solution that encourages customers to return to their abandoned carts through personalised, noteworthy messages.

These cart abandonment emails can be programmed to automatically deploy if certain steps in the buying journey are attributed to user experiences. If someone abandons their checkout experience, an email can be deployed to bring them back.

Accounting and invoicing tools

Why limit the e-commerce process automation strictly to the shoppers and their paths to conversion? Invoicing and order tracking are also tedious tasks that take up a lot of time, but there are automated invoicing solutions you can use to streamline this recordkeeping process. Take back more of your own time by simplifying how you track conversions, revenue, and expenses so that you can brainstorm more effective ways to maximise profits.

Automated prompts for feedback

Feedback, testimonials, and customer reviews are the best way to validate your brand’s claims in order to attract new shoppers to your website. But remembering to prompt each buyer to leave their feedback is often forgotten, leading to lost opportunities to boost the brand reputation. However, you can use automated feedback email solutions, similar to cart abandonment email software, in order to prompt new buyers to submit their thoughts on the experience and validate your brand’s solutions.

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