eCommerce has the power to grow your business. From entering new markets and regions without establishing a physical office to efficiencies through digitizing the sales workflow, eCommerce helps in many ways. The combination of eCommerce and workflow automation leverages the efficiencies possible through digitization. Whether automation is part of a larger digital transformation or a stand-alone project, it is crucial for business in the post-COVID-19 economy.
To get the most out of your eCommerce business, you should automate repetitive workflows and free your human assets to do what they do best – those tasks that require creativity and interpersonal relationships. Here are 5 areas of eCommerce automation you should learn and master.
Integration is Integral
Your eCommerce automation strategies can only be implemented if your business systems work and play well with each other. That means at a minimum your eCommerce platform, CRM, and ERP must be integrated. There should be no data silos in the architecture. Orders can’t flow freely if data can’t flow freely. From the time a lead enters the funnel until the time shipping information is emailed to the customer, the data and the orders must flow in all directions. Otherwise, data can be difficult to locate, its accuracy can be questionable, and customers and employees may not be operating off accurate inventory levels and order shipping status.
Too often, integration is overlooked until it becomes a problem. That’s the tail wagging the dog. APIs should be available to connect your business systems. Open-source applications generally integrate easier and more seamlessly than proprietary systems. Because the code is open for review, more integrations are possible.
So, before you start automating, make sure you have integrated your systems.
Automate Abandoned Cart Emails
Turn visitors into customers. Research by MTS shows that 57% of B2B buyers abandon carts for reasons such as barriers to checkout. This varies from the requirement to create an account, hidden shipping costs, and a long checkout process. So, make sure your shipping rates are transparent, you provide for guest checkout, and the checkout workflow can be reduced to one page then automate your abandoned cart emails.
Abandoned cart emails are a highly effective way to recapture up to 10% of lost sales.
And when you automate the email process, it’s easier than ever to gain these conversions. If you don’t want to go for the hard sell “Complete Your Checkout” then soft sell with “Take Another Look”. Remind them exactly what is in their cart and keep the message short and simple.
Automate Marketing with Facebook Chatbots
Facebook chatbots are an alternative to email chains and are a perfect sales automation tool for your eCommerce business.
The Facebook Messenger chatbot opens up the possibility to converse with the 1.3 billion people who utilize the Facebook Messenger app every month. And from a development standpoint, a Facebook Messenger app is almost always less expensive to create than a standalone app.
Since people are 3.5 times more likely to open a Facebook Messenger app than an email, it’s easier to ease them through the funnel.
Set up responses for frequently asked questions, personalize as much as possible, and enable the Send Message button. Utilize tools like Chatfuel and conversational design techniques to put the focus on the needs and wants of your potential customers. Create user journeys based on your typical customer path. Each call to action should move the user closer to purchase.
By automating sales where possible with Facebook Messenger chatbots, you free your sales staff to move beyond the routine and focus on closing deals where the human touch is critical.
Support is another function that is ripe for automation. All too often, customers ask the same questions and make the same requests. And repetition is the hallmark of workflows to be automated.
When you automate these tasks, customer satisfaction is higher as they get a rapid response and customer support is free to focus on tasks that require human intervention.
Automated support can be as simple as downloadable PDFs for items such as:
- User Guides
- Installation Manuals
- Product Brochures and Catalogs.
Chatbots on the website can automate much of your routine customer support as well. Allow customers to interact with chatbots 24/7 to check on inventory status, tracking for shipments, and order status.
Chatbots can guide onsite search to assist with product selection and can answer product specification questions as well. Ask a simple question such as “What can I do to help?” and then follow up with a decision tree that branches to sales, support, and something else.
Another under-used support technique is to guide onsite search with an autocomplete function. Similar to Google’s assisted search function, as the user types the search term, relevant suggestions populate a drop-down so the user can stop typing and just click to select.
When you consider that 7 out of 10 buyers consider reading reviews as an important part of the buying process and half rely on reviews in the later stages of the purchase process, you know that providing relevant product reviews is critical. But gathering those reviews isn’t always easy.
By automating the process, you can deliver timely requests for reviews and garner the best feedback because the purchase process is still fresh and top-of-mind.
It can be as simple as creating a landing page on the website to gather reviews and feedback on products and the purchasing process. You can even offer a reward for submitting a testimonial. Whether this is promotional swag or entry into a drawing for free products, these incentives are powerful drivers for gathering testimonials.
You can use email automation software like MailChimp or ConstantContact to conduct email campaigns to solicit reviews and feedback automatically. Automated text messages with a link to your landing page are another way to automatically solicit reviews and feedback.
Other Areas for Automation
While these are the 5 major areas in which to focus, automation can help in other areas as well:
- Follow up emails remind it’s time to reorder again
- Contact follow-ups prompt a sales team member to reach out to a lead
- Automatic shipping label creation from order form eliminates delivery address problems
- Automatic purchase order generation based on sales
eCommerce and workflow automation are the most powerful tools in the modern seller’s toolbox. How will you use them to build your business?