There is no doubt hard-working can grow your eCommerce or online business but you have to implement different processes to automate your business operations for getting higher ROI (Return Over Investment) value. Once there was a time when process automation was considered only for big organizations but nowadays, smaller companies can also automate their processes to improve efficiency and reduce labor costs. Process automation is a software, system, or strategy used for digital transformation based on the AI or Machine learning.
As an online shopping store owner, you need to show the right products on your website and fulfill different orders, payments 24/7, dispatch packages and many more. So, it will be difficult to manage thousands of customers without automating your eCommerce processes.
In this article, you will understand all the basics of business process automation, different examples, why you need to automate, principles of BPA, what processes can be automated and the benefits of process automation. Moreover, you will also learn 15 ways to automate your e-commerce business.
Business Process Automation – Definition
BPA (Business Process Automation) is the process of managing data, information and different processes with the help of technology to reduce costs, manual efforts, investment and resources. It also streamlines your business operations and improves the overall efficiency, stability in process and boost in productivity.
Business Process Automation – Examples
In order to understand the concept of process automation, take a look at the following most popular use cases.
Product purchasing is the recurring process of every online shopping store where the order takes to fill out a purchasing form and send it to the approver. They will reject (because of not enough amount of information) and sent back to order takers or accept and send the copies of the purchase order to the supplier and inventory team. If you don’t have implemented the process automation tools then you may face the following issues:
- Delays in order approvals
- Different errors in the purchase order
- Errors in taking delivery
- Insufficient record
- Productivity issues
Hiring the employees needs to fill out the information forms of employees, their training, documents, bank accounts, assigning mentors and many more. If you don’t implement process automation then it can cause:
- Great paperwork
- Lower productivity
- Missing out tasks
Employees onboarding process automation aligns the operations and provides the status of the entire process.
Why Do You Need Process Automation?
1. Digital Transformation
Every business should adopt the business process automation in order to create a culture of continuous transformation that have a direct impact on every business.
2. Synchronized Processes
It is very difficult for any organization to implement efficient process synchronization without process automation. They will get insights, accountability, valuable information, and better manage your organizational tasks.
3. Standards of Business Operations
With the help of process automation, organizations can build their positions more reliable and stronger which helps them to build a great customer base with valuable outcomes.
It is an amazing thing to keep the organizational records in a well-organized way with the help of process automation so that everyone involved in accountability and demonstrates compliance in the company audits.
5. Customer Satisfaction
Customer satisfaction is key to long-term business success, if you fulfill all the promised standards and provide quality of customer support then the customers will become more loyal to your organization. Every organization can achieve these benefits if they focus on operations and process excellence to make sure the customers’ needs can be fulfilled with ease.
6. Clarity in Processes
In business process automation, you need to know about the tasks, people involved in the processes, in order to properly automate the document workflow. It will help you to train your new employees and clarity to other employees. This useful information will help you to understand the gaps between your business process and provide you the improvement opportunities.
What Type of Processes should We Automate?
Process automation is not limited to big organizations or processes but it also works for small companies. Consider the following factors in order to understand the need for process automation:
- Tasks volumes are high
- Time-sensitive operations
- Required many people to execute
- Great impact on other systems and operations
- Compliance and audit trails
- Greater accountability and transparency
- Human resources and finance
- Digital marketing and IT operations
Following are the most commonly automated processes in a number of organizations:
- Procurement and sales orders
- Invoicing and Payroll
- Attendance Tracking Systems
- Data Backup and Restore process management
- Data Aggregation and Migration
- Creating Customer Case Studies
- Employee Leaves Requests
- Call Center Processes
- Email and Push Notifications
- Customer Support and Help desk
Business Process Automation – Benefits
If any organization wants to perform the business operations in an efficient and more sustainable way then they should use process automation solutions according to their needs.
There are many benefits of BPA, few are listed below:
1. Increased Productivity
The owners of every online business and eCommerce store want to increase their productivity but it is only possible with the implementation of process automation and effective strategies. If they use a process automation tool that is cloud-based then all your employees can access it from anywhere using an internet connection. It will help the employees to keep updated with data even if they are outside of the office. Moreover, they can telecommunicate with each other which leads to employee satisfaction.
2. Increased Transparency
With automated and centrally-aligned business process management system, all the operations can be easily tracked and monitored using any process automation software that will help to improve the overall accountability and accountability. You can easily make proactive strategies based on the data from the BPA software.
3. Reduces Delay
The paperwork and reports prepared manually take time with the maximum chances of errors and mistakes. Automated software saves the precious time and run the process more efficient and faster. It has greater impact on bottom line and reduces the invoice cycle time. Once you started the on-time payments to the vendors and partners, the organization can ask them for discounts.
4. Better Collaboration
Process automation help you to better collaborate with Partners and Suppliers that leads to achieve common goals and develop good relationship between them. Once the partners are synchronized with the organization’s goals, the targets will be achieved faster.
5. Customer Satisfaction
Customers like faster responses to their queries that is possible with chatbots for customer care – an easier way to handle the client queries. If any customer gets faster response then he will stay longer and spend more time with the organization. It means he spend more money with your organization, so it is necessary to provide customer satisfaction.
6. Reduced Costs
The biggest benefit of process automation is reduced labor costs, you don’t have required to hire many employees to manage your inventory, bookkeeping, and marketing. Keep in mind, most of the automation tools are very costly at the beginning that’s why people prefer to labor with low cost but process automation machinery can reduce your overhead over time and gradually pay off your invested amount. Moreover, you can save your precious time by hiring only a few skills workers instead of hiring dozens of employees having required level of skills.
7. Metrics Visibility
There are many inefficiencies and disadvantages of manual tasks that have a direct impact on the bottom line. In case of poor decision making, unavailability of data is the major issues arises in this particular situation. If they don’t have prepare well documentation, they can lose valuable information. The major drawbacks of manual working methods are that it leads to no visibility about organizational processes and operations for its stakeholders.
8. Reduced Turnaround Times
Most of the business owner or entrepreneurs try to manage everything instead of process automation. If they utilize their precious time in finding new wonderful opportunities then they can easily increase the ROI (Return Over Investment) and earn an attractive amount of profits. Why are you worried about the existing business? Process automation can manage all of your processes from processing orders to shipping out packages in an efficient manner. As an entrepreneur or business owner, you can free yourself from routine tasks and able to concentrate on the big picture of your business.
9. Improved Operation Efficiency
Computing machines don’t need breaks and leaves like the human workforce in their tedious routine tasks. Why machines are taking responsibility for most of the tasks? Because machines provide accurate, consistent, and error-free operation without wasting the time. Automated processes definitely increase the productivity and efficiency of operations.
10. Efficient Use of Space
You don’t need more space for assembling orders and inventory management using heavy machinery to grab products. Be a proactive and use process automation in order to make more efficient use of available space in the warehouse. You can automate your process with the help of omnidirectional robots and picking tools instead of large trucks and robotic lifts. Moreover, you can also use automated bookkeeping and invoicing systems but don’t forget to take backups on your external or cloud storage space.
11. Streamlining Contract Management
There are many problems in manual contracts like the manager has been terminated by the company after designing a system that does not make clear sense to future managers. Moreover, contract managers were storing physical files in their cabinets by maintaining lists based on few dates noted before the automated software.
The management of contracts with an automated and streamlined process with the help of process automation tools decreased the chances of mistakes in manual contracts. It is very important to use the process automation tool because any human error can increase the organization’s liability with a greater negative impact on the bottom line. There are many tools that provide process automation in contract management such as SharePoint, Microsoft Office, Dropbox and many others.
12. Faster Error Response
You have highly professional employees keeping an eye on errors and fixing them on-time with proper reports but they are still humans and have the potential to make different mistakes. It is possible to forget any important detail by the humans but process automation software doesn’t forget. Every organization can never eliminate human errors unless they implement any automation software.
6 Principles of Business Process Automation
Every business has different processes but the eCommerce or product-based businesses have similar workflows and processes. Follow these principles to improve your efficiency with the help of business process management.
1. Repetitive Tasks
Keep in mind, process automation is more suitable for repetitive tasks. There are many tasks that fall in this category like email marketing, auditing, accounting functions, reports creation and other similar tasks that we can automate with the help of the latest software and technologies.
2. Tasks That Are Not Scalable
If you are performing different tasks that are not scalable when you perform them manually so you can turn into the full-time jobs as your business grew.
3. Easy Workflows First
If a visitor subscribes to the business email, the welcome message will be sent. Everyone can easily perform this particular with the help of different available tools and software.
4. Specific Tasks
Don’t go to automate all operations instead of automating specific tasks and create reports about the learning of your employees about how they access the learning management system. Keep an eye on the analytical data with the help of email reminders with daily sales information etc.
5. Daily Tasks First
Daily tasks consume time but you can manage them by automating and implementing batch activities. If you will automate your daily operational tasks then you need only few times to review the tasks.
6. Prioritize Your Tasks
Prepare a list of your tasks according to the impact on your business for proactive implementation. Now you can automate your easy to deploy and important tasks first.
Important Tasks to Automate E-Commerce
There are many eCommerce tasks that have greater impact on your business and provide you more benefits when you automate them.
1. Shopping Cart Abandonment
Every eCommerce professional understands the abandonment term that is used to describe the website visitor who leaves the page before performing desired action. When a user adds products to his online shopping cart but leave without completing the purchase is known as shopping cart abandonment.
According to a research, 69.57% is the average shopping cart abandonment rate. So, you can recapture your customers with the help of automated cart abandonment emails and grow you business leads. Most of the big eCommerce platforms like Shopify or BigCommerce provide built-in card abandonment emails but you can also use the MailChimp for this purpose.
2. Reward Your Most Engaged Clients
Give the rewards to the customers’ loyalty by offering free delivery, gifts to orders over $80. Use different tools like ActiveCampaign and send your customers automated emails having rewards.
3. Gather Feedback after Every Purchase
Every eCommerce business owner understands the real value of the customers’ reviews and positive feedbacks. With the help of automation tools, set up emails after a particular time and share a link where they can post positive reviews.
4. Inventory Management
Keeping track of your inventory and manual updates is a time-consuming process with the possibilities of mistakes. As your eCommerce business grows, updating the inventory on a manual basis becomes very difficult. If you have the inventory where products are updated automatically using locally installed or cloud-based software then you can reduce the efforts and manage your eCommerce store more efficiently. There are many software available in the market with the great features of inventory management like Ordoro, Finale Inventory, Fishbowl and many more.
5. Be More Productive
There are many small tasks that consume more time and reduce your overall productivity. For example, when you change the profile picture of your business account on one social channel requires all profiles on social media platforms and business listing websites. So, in these particular situations, you need triggered automation tools like IFTTT to perform a series of tasks. When you will use IFTTT tools, when you will update an image on single social media platform then it will be automatically updated on all your channels.
6. Accounting and Book-Keeping
Manually updating ledger, sales, purchase orders and expenses are very time-consuming processes. Nowadays, different software is available like Xero Or QuickBooks that synchronize the online store with third-party applications. There are many advantages of using this process automation software because they maintain accurate records, include taxes and make it possible to digitize your purchase orders and receipts.
7. Social Media
You have created the content for blogs but your duty is not finished, now you will promote your content on different channels including all popular social media platforms to earn brand reputation and more visitors on your website. There are many software applications are available to providing help for marketing of your online business and saves your precious time. Use Buffer to schedule your posts automatically at any particular time and date. You can also check Hootsuite, Mention, Quuu for marketing purposes. You can also adopt 44 impressive ways for social media to grow your business overnight.
8. Product Launch Workflows
When you need to launch a new product, there are a lot of things to get done before and after the release such as:
- Creating promotional content or other assets on your website
- Product photos or videos having all prominent features
- SEO based product descriptions and titles
- Creating proper product data like SKUs, weight, color and size, etc.
- Creating email campaigns for new products
- Social posts content for organic and paid posts
- Stock and warehouse space
Don’t forget to implement effective tips to write powerful product and service descriptions to boost your website traffic and higher ROI. There are many things to do before any new product launch, so you can use the Tallyfy service to automate the workflow, triggering events etc.
9. Customer Reviews
Reviews can have a tremendous impact on your online business sales because around 90% or the customers make their buying decisions based on customer reviews. If you are running a small eCommerce store then it will be more difficult for you to track each customer manually and ask him to post the review. So, you can implement automated tools like Shopify and BigCommerce to send an email to the customers after a purchase made on your website.
10. Product Returns, Refund and Exchange
When people sell tangible products then they will probably get return, refund and exchange requests and require direct engagement to solve the issue. You can improve these processes by clearly mentioning all the policies on your website. Moreover, you can also use different platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce to reduce the touchpoints and speed up your process. These platforms automatically flag products for return or refund and save your precious time.
11. Analytics Monitoring and Reporting
You can easily monitor your online business with the help of different reports, traffic, customer metrics and merchandising about your product performances. With the help of Google Analytics or other reporting tools like Kissmetrics can be used to generate reports automatically.
12. Consumer Monitoring
In this digital world, every traditional or local business is shifted on the internet or they are planning to open their virtual shop on the internet soon. They only need to buy a domain name and web hosting services according to the size of their business to start selling their product online. Moreover, they can target maximum areas in the world with the help of an online shopping store. New competitors are popping up every day, so you need to keep track of their pricing, product launches, social outreach, promotions and audience engagement information is needed to staying ahead of the pack. If you are going to do these processes manually then it is almost impossible or a time-consuming process. You can get help from competitive monitoring tools like SEMrush, or QuickSprout for quickly analyzing competitor’s data.
13. Use Powerful Help Desk Software
With the help of different help desk software like Zendesk, Freshdesk and many others, you have in the position to centralize customer support. You will get a clear view of your tickets from all platforms and satisfaction surveys for improving your customer experience.
14. Send Reminders for Re-Order
If you sell beauty products, food or any other product that customer might repurchase once they run out. Send your customers an automated email reminder for re-ordering after a particular time period.