Running Your Ecommerce Business As A Sole Trader – Opening an e-commerce website is easier than ever. There are platforms to choose from, payment gateways to integrate, and more tools to help get the site up and running. You also have the freedom to choose how you want to set up your e-commerce site, with both self-hosted and managed options widely available.
Getting the online store up and running, however, is far from the only thing you need to do. In order to achieve e-commerce success, you also need to deliver good products, fine-tune the user experience and complete a wide range of other tasks in a timely manner. It is not uncommon for e-commerce growth to be hampered by an inability to do these things effectively.
There are two solutions to the bottleneck. You can either expand your team and turn a simple e-commerce store into a complex operation, or you can automate certain tasks to remain lean and efficient. In this article, we are going to discuss how you can get started with the latter.
It Starts with the Platform
The e-commerce platform you use will greatly affect your ability to automate mundane, repetitive tasks. Not all e-commerce platforms are created equal and you want to pick one that suits your long-term goals best. Shopify, for instance, simplifies the creation of an e-commerce store, but you get limited expandability and customization in return.
On the other hand, there are platforms like WooCommerce – running on top of any WordPress installation – offering more flexibility. As a tradeoff, it takes slightly longer to get the e-commerce site that you want up and running. You also need more technical skills (or help from WordPress and WooCommerce developers) to customize the site.
However, those tradeoffs are well worth the benefits you get in return. Since you are running a self-hosted e-commerce site, you have complete control over the platform and the information gathered by it. This means you can automate more things without running into issues, allowing you to focus on growing the site’s customer base.
Start with Simpler Tasks
A lot of the tasks can be automated directly on the e-commerce platform. Simple tasks such as sending a confirmation email, managing orders, and deliveries, and even printing shipping labels can be automated using built-in features of your e-commerce platform.
Since simpler tasks are the easiest to automate, they are the tasks you should automate first. Instead of relying on manual work, you get to automate inventory and order management from the beginning. What you are doing is setting up the e-commerce business for success.
Next, you want to automate email-related tasks, starting with the delivery of welcome emails to new users. Keep in mind that not all new users register on your site to make a purchase. Sometimes, they just want to use the wish list tool or seek information about discounts and special offers.
This is an opportunity you should not miss. Automate the sending of a welcome email to new users. Have the content of the email set to the latest promotional offer or simply offer new users exclusive discounts on their first purchase.
Other emails, including those sent to users with abandoned carts or wish list items, are just as easy to automate. You can use third-party tools like Mail Jet and Active Campaign integrated seamlessly with your e-commerce platform to handle these tasks.
Use Bridging Services
While there are a lot of plugins and services that can help you automate different tasks associated with managing an e-commerce business, not all of them can be integrated directly with the platform you use. Sometimes, it is necessary to use apps or services that bridge the gap between the two services.
For example, you can automate the creation of tasks on Kanbanize whenever new orders are received on your site by connecting the two platforms. When you incorporate Agile planning to how you manage inventory and purchase orders – as well as other tasks – integrating the two becomes an important thing to do.
You can also integrate Kanbanize with other platforms like Salesforce. Information can be synced seamlessly across the multiple tools you use so that you can further simplify workflows on each tool without having to deal with information gaps.
Focus on User Experience
One thing to note about automating mundane and repetitive tasks is the impact that automation has on user experience. When you automate repetitive tasks, you can significantly boost response time, which will then boost user satisfaction levels. Eliminating the need for human input also reduces the risk of human errors.
Naturally, speeding up response time isn’t the only thing you can do with automation. The personalized (automating) welcome email mentioned earlier is a good example of how simple automation can make customers feel very special.
There are countless other tasks that you can automate for the same purpose. Find pain points in the customer journey and figure out ways to simplify – and automate – them. As you unravel bottlenecks across your e-commerce operation, you will see customer satisfaction levels slowly going up.
Don’t Forget Data Processing
Last but certainly not least, you want to automate the processing of data and metrics you gather from the e-commerce site. This is an important part of the process for two reasons. First of all, the data gathered by your e-commerce platform and other tools are crucial for producing insights about the customers. The more you know your customers, the better you can serve them.
Secondly, automating analysis of data helps you direct your energy towards utilizing valuable insights to grow your business. Rather than checking the inventory of your products manually, you receive alerts as well as information about purchase trends and other useful insights. Do you see how valuable these insights can be to the success of your business?
Automation is how you grow your e-commerce business without expanding the team or investing more resources. With the tips and tricks found in this article, getting started with automating parts of your e-commerce business is certainly easy. You know exactly which tasks to automate and how to automate them.