Hello, Nick Ponte here. I own a digital marketing company, here in Maui, and I like to take what I’ve learned and help area small business owners with their digital marketing strategies. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve given tips for social media success. Now, I’m pivoting to talk about how local businesses can improve efficiency in e-commerce through automation.

Just like you can use third-party apps to streamline your social media marketing processes, various platforms exist to help you automate the time-consuming details of e-commerce.

What does this mean? Day-to-day operations transform with structured systems. Customizable software will run programs to create actions based on conditions for your business’s workflow. This will allow you and your team to spend less time on minute and tedious details, and instead pivot attention to larger-scale priorities.

Also Read: How to Bring Your E-Commerce to Instagram

Is it Really Simpler to Automate?

While the COVID-19 pandemic still limits most travel and tourism to Hawaii, local businesses need to prioritize e-commerce. Not only does e-commerce expand your reach to previous customers, but it provides a way for customers all over the world to connect with your business and purchase your products.

However, business owners have to keep the gears of e-commerce moving efficiently for success. As your reach expands, these online aspects require more and more of your attention.

Automating e-commerce systems saves time and money for you and your employees. This means your attention doesn’t need to be stretched in all directions, and you can direct your energy into leading your team and expanding revenue.

Automating systems also helps to build a positive reputation with your customers. Online shoppers look for a streamlined buying experience that lowers their effort and gets them their product quicker. Automation improves their online experience. When customers feel good about their experience, it builds loyalty to your brand. When I think about companies with the easiest and most accurate ordering experiences, it makes me want to shop at those places.

In addition to these advantages, you’ll also improve procedures for merchandising, promotions, and inventory.

Automations may seem complicated at first, but with a little time spent learning on the front end, you’ll notice a huge difference in how smoothly and efficiently your everyday operations start to run.

How can you implement automation into your business? Let’s talk about it! 

Also Read: The Ultimate Guide to Local Web Design

3 Ways to Get Started Automating Your E-commerce

Take these steps to start automating your daily systems and see your team’s improved operations run like clockwork.

  • Rethink What’s Possible For You to Automate

Consider the time-consuming tasks that make a positive impact in your business and what you could hand off to a “digital assistant.” These might include aspects of office management, customer service, or social media. In my experience online, I’ve found that there are little hacks for everything.

Especially in the midst of a pandemic, business owners must prioritize customer retention. Did you know that profits increase exponentially (up to 95%!) if retention improves by 5%?

One way to do this is through a customer rewards program like Ingage or FiveStars. Automations can help you keep track of customer purchases, set up automatic perks for orders, and send out communications with rewards based on spending goals.

Do you use an email list? Automated email services expedite newsletters and ads. Do you want low-stock items to automatically trigger alerts? How about sending reminder emails to customers for items left in their online cart? You can even have shipping labels print automatically when a customer places an order through your website.

Some programs allow you to collect feedback and reviews. It’s good to acknowledge positive comments, but also make sure to address negative responses, and see if you can turn the customer’s situation around. Automations help you keep track of them all so none gets lost in the shuffle of running a business.

The time these tasks take adds up quickly, and some would be impossible to manage well without an automated system. Talk to your staff to see if they have any input on time-consuming responsibilities, and make a list. That way, you’ll know what to look for in the software programs you explore.

  • Choose Your Software and Apps

So many programs are out there for you to choose. As you think about the kind of assistance you need, check out the features of several similar programs to determine which will work best for you. Some may offer free trials so you can get a feel for their individual services and interfaces, and you can see how they would fit into your business’s approaches.

For example, Shopify offers several awesome productivity apps that give simple solutions and offer integration with other apps you might use. Another option: WooCommerce for WordPress stores, which offers plenty of ways to customize operations. Mailchimp makes mass emails to customers a breeze. You can also find software to efficiently run internal business functions, like Quickbooks for accounting, ActiveCampaign for triggering employees’ workflows and communications, and Zendesk to provide help desk tools. Slack and Monday will help you automate staff operations. Several of these apps have integration options so that information from one feeds into functions of another. Talk about convenience!

  • Take Advantage of Program Tutorials

It can feel intimidating at first to learn a new tool, but the payoff will come if you take the time to learn. Several of these apps offer tutorial videos so users can walk through the functions and customizations available. You and your staff can make use of these as you implement the processes into your routines.

If the app developers haven’t made tutorials, try YouTube. Users post all kinds of free and helpful videos to help others learn how to navigate these programs. Check out some of these as you evaluate the software and apps that might be helpful for your business.

Automated systems will improve the daily operation of your business. Make this a part of your management strategy, and soon you’ll wonder how you functioned without it.

If you want to learn more or want help, reach out to us today!

Further Reading: The 3 Best Alternatives for Local Brick-and-Mortar Businesses

 

 

Photos Courtesy of rupixen.com and Monica Bourgeau

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