Jabulane

Posted on

How an Ecommerce Software Solution Can Help Automate and Streamline Your Business

Ecommerce is no longer the next big thing. It’s the big thing right now. Did you know that the projected retail ecommerce sales in 2023 are $6.913 trillion? It’s not millions, it’s not billions. It’s TRILLIONS!

It makes sense if you compare the numbers with your life. I can guarantee that you’ve bought something over the Internet in the last 1 month, if not more recently. We’re dependent on online stores more. This as a trend took off during the Covid-19 pandemic when we had no other option but to order online.

It was during that time that the world realized the potential of the internet. Just look at how many companies have embraced the remote working culture since the pandemic.

It was a massive learning experience for us. It was a wake-up call that it’s not always necessary to rent a commercial property and make people come to get the job done.

The same is true for stores. Sure, a brick-and-mortar store gives you the option to see the product up close before ordering. But it’s often necessary when you’re buying a widely variable product like produce or livestock.

For the rest of the things we need in our daily lives, we don’t necessarily need to go to the store. It makes all the sense to me that products should be delivered to me.

This paradigm shift also presents an amazing opportunity for anyone to build an ecommerce business. Just like you can buy and sell products online, you can source them from wholesale vendors too. All you need is a fulfillment service in the middle to take care of the logistics.

Building an online store is easier than ever thanks to all the ecommerce software out there. They not only let you build your own online store but also help you manage it from the comfort of your home!

best ecommerce solution

The biggest selling point of these ecommerce solutions, at least to me, is automation. You can eliminate a lot of the elbow grease from the equation by putting things on autopilot.

This brings me to the topic of our discussion today. How automation can change the scale of your online business. It’s a game changer and I have enough reasons to convert your belief.

Stay with me.

What is an Ecommerce Software Solution?

Even if you sell your services with a website, it can be categorized as an ecommerce site. But in a more traditional sense, ecommerce sites are a massive point of sale online that enables businesses to sell products. Amazon, Aliexpress, eBay, Wish, etc., are some common examples of an ecommerce website.

Of course, most of us don’t have the resources Jeff Bezos or Jack Ma has to run such a business online. That’s where ecommerce software solutions come into play. Think of them as a complete toolkit to run your online store.

An ecommerce store typically needs a few things to run smoothly. First up, you need an interface for the customers to interact with. Then there is the product database. You’ll need inventory management to maintain stock for the products in need.

After a customer decides to purchase, there is a checkout. It includes a very important component of an online store, payment processing. From there, you have to focus on customer satisfaction via after-sales service.

Every time you launch a new product or onboard a new vendor, your existing customers need to know about it. That’s where email marketing tools come into play.

Of course, how can I forget the overall marketing? If you take the manual route, it’s going to take you months to set up your online store. Needless to say, hiring professionals to do each of the tasks individually will cost you a fortune.

An ecommerce software solution is the lifesaver here. The best ecommerce software will most likely include all the tools you need to run an online store from the same interface.

Automation is the Best Part

The best feature of ecommerce software in my opinion is automation. The majority of ecommerce solutions that exist today are designed to run autonomously. Of course, you’ll still need to put in the effort to manage online stores by setting up the features.

Here are some of the most important areas an ecommerce software can automate.

Order Management

If I go by volume, managing orders is the most labor-intensive aspect of running an ecommerce business. They’ll keep coming every day, at any time of the day. You can’t possibly manage them on your own. Of course, you can hire someone to do it for you. Depending on where you live, it can cost you a hefty chunk of the bottom line, especially for small businesses.

best ecommerce software for orders

But when you delegate the work to commerce software, you can manage more customers without putting in more effort. The automated system in place will collect the order, process payments, and forward it to the logistics. If you want to put a confirmation stage by calling the customer, that’s up to you.

The fulfillment service in place will then take care of the shipping. If you have inventory management integrated into the software, you don’t even have to manually input the number of sold products. Every time one of them is shipping, the ecommerce software automatically factors it in.

Inventory Management

In B2B business operations, inventory management is a critical concept that must be streamlined. It results in a direct sales boost for many reasons.

For starters, you’re always on top of your inventory. If a customer wants to purchase something and you don’t have it in stock, it’s not a good look for the business. Needless to say, it’s a lost profit.

online businesses inventory management

B2C ecommerce businesses often don’t realize the need for inventory management until it’s too late. Managing the stock seems pretty simple when you’re just starting out. But as you grow the business, the logistics of it become a nightmare.

Customer Support

Don’t get me wrong here. No customer support has succeeded with automated bots. It doesn’t work even if you employ the most advanced AI chatbot.

But there are certain aspects of customer satisfaction that you can automate. For example, creating an elaborate FAQ section is a great start. In most cases, the questions first-time buyers have are similar and they revolve around the same topics.

How do I pay for my order? When can I expect delivery? What is your refund policy? What if I want to return a product? When will “x” be available again?

You get the idea, right?

To take things one step further, you can include a live chat where the journey starts with a chatbot.

The process is simple. When a lead asks a question, the AI looks for the appropriate question from the FAQ section and leads the customer to it.

And if the question falls outside the scope of the FAQ, the chatbot will present a ticket submission form. This is also a great way to capture emails for interested leads.

From there, you can manually reply to the emails. If you manage to grow your online store to a sustainable level, I highly recommend getting a 24/7 live chat team that can respond to customer queries fast.

Email Marketing

Modern-day marketing tools are mostly automated and I love it. In the ecommerce space, emails are perhaps the most powerful medium of communication.

You can send out promo codes, new product information, a weekly newsletter, or any other form of your content to the leads. The idea here is to keep them warm. You also have to consider the fact that the leads are already interested. Otherwise, they wouldn’t sign up to receive emails.

You need to respect their interest by sharing timely details and valuable information with them.

But there is a catch. Most ecommerce store owners live all over the world. It’s highly unlikely that the time zones will align. Does that mean you have to wake up in the middle of the night to send an email?

Most importantly, do you have to send thousands of emails manually?

The answer to both of these questions is no. Email marketing is one of the very first things you should automate, at least in my opinion.

Payment Processing

Payments are another important area of concern for an ecommerce business. To be honest, you can’t really manage payments manually these days even if you want to. But that’s for your own good.

Imagine a customer trying to pay for their order but your online store is not designed to accept payments automatically. It’s very much possible that you’re not present in front of the computer screen at that time.

mobile app payment options

The customer will inevitably fail to place the order and go to your completion instead.

The bottom line here is that not automating certain aspects of your services online will only add friction to the customer experience.

Lead Management

A “lead” in business terms is a potential customer. Ecommerce businesses gather leads from all channels. They can come from social media, email opt-in, and your e-commerce platform.

After you have leads, it’s crucial to nurture them. Without nurturing, you lose the ability to convert them into paying customers.

The most important thing to keep in mind here is that lead management is a numbers game. At every stage of the sales funnel, you’ll lose some leads simply because they’re not good fits for your business model. This means you need to gather as many leads as possible to have a sustainable business.

In my opinion, the lead management process must be automated. You should design an elaborate system that sends the right emails to the right audience, at the right time.

This way, you don’t have to manually interact with leads unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Fraud Detection

For ecommerce businesses worldwide, fraud is a major issue. Businesses lose upwards of $20 billion every year to fraudsters!

The worst part of this is our inability to distinguish between legit buyers and fake buyers. Interestingly, modern-day automated fraud detection systems have a better success rate in isolating fraudsters.

This brings me to the point of this section. If possible, go for ecommerce software that offers automated fraud filtering. The process includes complex tasks like verifying IP addresses so it’s best not to delegate to an intern.

How to Know What to Automate an Online Store?

The areas I discussed so far are common for every ecommerce platform out there. Although all ecommerce platforms operate similarly, every business is different.

That’s why I believe it’s important to have an objective approach to selecting candidates for automation.

Tasks that Take 3 or More People

Order management is an obvious example of this. For a running ecommerce platform, it’s practically impossible to manage customer orders with just one employee. The more you scale the business, the more employees you’ll need to maintain a hassle-free customer experience.

If there are other tasks as well that take 3 or more employees to perform, automating them is a great start. It’s especially true if these are not revenue-making tasks. You’ll be saving a lot of time and resources this way.

Another factor to consider here is the possibility of human error. When you have multiple people working on the same tasks, errors are bound to happen. Automating comes with the benefit of ensuring an error-free ecommerce offering.

Tasks that Require Multiple Platforms

A business needs attention across many fronts. Even the best ecommerce solutions will often not be enough to take care of all those fronts. For example, finding ecommerce software that does email marketing, inventory, and CRM is very hard to come by.

This means you have to jump back and forth across multiple software vendors to retain your unique ecommerce features. But if you get the right ecommerce software, you’ll have the option to integrate the services into one.

And I highly recommend automating these tasks when you know how to. I strongly believe that you should automate everything that doesn’t add to your bottom line.

Tasks that Trigger Other Tasks

Ecommerce business runs on actions and reactions. You adding new products to the inventory is an action. The customer knowing about it is a reaction. The customer placing an order is an action. You processing the order is a reaction.

What I’m trying to say is that tasks that trigger other tasks as a reaction are great candidates for automation. The reasoning is simple. You can’t expect to be present every step of the way manually.

Benefits of Automation on Your Ecommerce Platform

The list of benefits is practically bottomless when it comes to automating an online business. But as I said, not every business is the same which means not every business enjoys the same benefits from ecommerce solutions.

Let me illustrate some of the common but major benefits you can expect when you let your online store run on autopilot.

You Save Time

As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Remember that time is money”. It’s one of those profound sayings that holds true to this day. Most workplaces decide the salaries on an hourly basis. So, there’s no doubt that time is an important factor in any business discussion.

When you decide to use ecommerce software to run your store online, you’re no longer trading your time for money. This also means you have to put into more productive tasks.

An example of a very time-consuming task would be running marketing campaigns. They require you to publish blogs, emails, or other content. They require you to manage products in the store. You also have to segment the customers to deliver the right marketing material to the right audience.

All of these tasks will slow you down from doing what matters the most. Selling products.

When you automate marketing emails, blogs, product management, and customer segmentation, you’ll be amazed at how much time you have. You can focus that time on client acquisition, complaint management, and vendor onboarding.

You Remove/Reduce Errors

As I already said, when you have lots of humans working on something, it’s not easy to keep the errors at bay. They’re bound to occur. On top of it, all of your employees may not be available for work when you need them the most.

Opting for the best ecommerce solution will free you from these liabilities. You no longer need to worry about completing the tasks in time simply because software can’t procrastinate.

Most importantly, if you program the built-in features right, you can expect an error-free execution. Errors not only give your business a bad rep but they also mean more work. Not very efficient if you ask me.

You Get to Scale the Business

If there is no automation in place, finding room to grow a business becomes very hard. You’re always working already!

But when you open your mind to opting for the best ecommerce platform, you have infinite room for scaling. The software vendors don’t care if you’re processing 10 orders, 100 orders, or 1,000 orders every day.

The email marketing tools you use don’t care whether you’re sending 10 emails, 100 emails, or 1,000 emails every day.

The payment processor on your website doesn’t care whether you’re receiving 10 payments, 100 payments, or 1,000 payments every day.

You get my drift, right?

Increasing sales is the first condition of adding more to your bottom line. Small businesses struggle more with scaling as they’re limited in resources. Opting for simple open-source ecommerce software can create personalized shopping experiences for their customers, allowing them to scale infinitely.

You Improve the Customer Journey

This is one of the least appreciated aspects of commerce software. Customers appreciate online businesses that care about their time. They like to shop in online stores that don’t take too much time and effort to operate.

What I’m trying to say is that when you invest in a hosted ecommerce software solution, you’re automatically improving the customer journey.

cutomer experience

If you look at all the best ecommerce brands across the world, you’ll find one pattern. All of them have a spectacular customer journey. It doesn’t matter if they did it with commerce solutions or with manual labor.

I’m just saying you can achieve similar effects by going for ecommerce software solutions.

Who Are the Beneficiaries of Ecommerce Software?

In a broader sense, the entire eCommerce business benefits from an ecommerce solution. But who are the micro beneficiaries? Whose job would you be making easier in the long run? Let’s find out.

Operations Manager

operations are by far the hardest part of any ecommerce. Pretty much every aspect of the business falls under the jurisdiction of operations. Interestingly, an operations manager doesn’t have to be a subject matter expert. Rather, their job is to be on top of every department and delegate the work.

More often than not, 2 people retain full control of ecommerce software. The online store owners and the operations managers.

One of the primary jobs of an operations manager is to ensure seamless execution of everyday tasks. In a non-automated workplace, they’re the ones that put in the most elbow grease.

But when the store owner invests in ecommerce software, the operations manager can unleash productivity by streamlining the tedious tasks.

Marketing Team

A marketing team or a freelance marketing expert, whatever route you’ve chosen for your online store, marketing is an area of labor. It doesn’t always show because you see marketing professionals sitting on their laptops. Only they know how much work goes into successful marketing campaigns.

When online businesses invest in ecommerce solutions, they often come with marketing tools. Email marketing is a common example. Then there is social media integration, cross-channel marketing, and so on.

A lot of the tasks put into a marketing strategy can be automated with ecommerce solutions. This doesn’t necessarily make the jobs of marketing professionals easier but more efficient. They get to spend more time perfecting the marketing strategy instead of trying to execute the actions.

Customer Support Representatives

I’ve already hinted at how a customer support team can benefit from automation. Support is primarily customer management and you need CRM software to perform these tasks.

The good thing here is that a CRM is often part of basic ecommerce features. The customer support representatives you hire will surely thank you for the help you’re providing them by simply adding the ecommerce functionality.

Web Development and Product Design Team

Well, this is more of a benefit to the owner rather than the team. Most ecommerce tools come with a website builder integrated into the system. This means you don’t even have to hire a web development team.

But if you do hire someone to manage the product uploads or to handle the shopping cart software, they’ll benefit immensely from the key features of ecommerce software.

When I say product design team, I don’t mean the vendors. I mean the team responsible for uploading products, designing product images, and writing product descriptions.

The ecommerce software of your choice will integrate all of these features into one. Whoever is responsible for executing these tasks, they can do it from the software directly.

How Do You Choose the Right Ecommerce Software?

By now, you know why ecommerce software work wonders for businesses at all levels. If I did my job right, you should’ve decided to get the best ecommerce software that suits your needs.

But how do you choose one from the ocean of options? Even if you search for the “best e-commerce software” on Google, you’ll find hundreds of options.

Let me help you choose the perfect solution for your ecommerce site without going into the details of any particular brand.

Maintenance Time Matters the Most

Getting your online store up and running is a liberating feeling. However, it’s just the beginning of your journey. You have to rank the store for search engines, increase the product portfolio, increase the number of customers, and so on.

During all of these phases, e-commerce companies need maintenance. From SSL certificates to using third-party plugins, things can get technical over time.

This is why one of the first things you have to consider when getting ecommerce software is how much time you’re willing to put into maintenance.

Complete solutions like Shopify or BigCommerce are often the best choice if you don’t want to allocate time to maintenance. They offer hosted ecommerce software which means you don’t have to get web hosting separately.

The best part is that these ecommerce software are optimized for the fastest load time possible. They even downsize the product images when uploading to keep the site light.

Your Budget is Important for Sustainability

The majority of commerce solutions out there are subscription based. It means you’ll keep paying monthly or annually for the lifespan of your store. For obvious reasons, you need to keep an eye on how much ecommerce solutions cost.

the goal is to not ride the slippery slope of add-ons as you grow the business. You should opt for a hosted ecommerce software that includes all the advanced features you may need in the future.

Even if you can’t get the right package the first time, you should at least have the option to upgrade your subscription to a package that offers top-notch ecommerce features.

From what I’ve seen, the bottom-tier packages offered by ecommerce solutions are not a good place to start. You’re limited on many fronts, barring your ecommerce growth.

On the other hand, the premium package with all the SEO tools for a hosted ecommerce software may break the bank. And you don’t need all the features offered in the premium package right away.

The best approach here would be to go for the middle package when you first start. They include all the important ecommerce features anyways. The benefit of a premium package is scalability. You can always upgrade later on in the process.

Are You Tech-Savvy?

Ecommerce software is still software. More often than not, you’ll need to configure the settings for your store by yourself. So, you need to factor in your tech literacy before you opt for the best e-commerce.

For example, if you have to do search engine optimization manually, it takes a great deal of knowledge.

If the web hosting services are provided by a third party, that adds to all the configurations you have to do.

In case you’re not ready to take on the work, a hosted ecommerce software with drag-and-drop features would be the best choice for you. Both Shopify and BigCommerce are great.

But if you like to tinker with various settings, you may try more bare-bones ecommerce solutions. Adobe Commerce and Wix are 2 great contenders here.

Lastly, if you want to keep search engine optimization in your hands, WooCommerce is a great choice. It’s not one of the typical ecommerce solutions but a WordPress plugin. This is one of the best ecommerce software if you have the technical knowledge to work on search engines.

The Level of Support from the Ecommerce Solution

When building your store with ecommerce software, you’re bound to face some difficulties. Here, you have the option to choose the level of support you expect from the ecommerce solutions.

Complete solutions will almost always offer 24/7 support. You can access the features on the mobile app, giving you control at your fingertips. Many store owners compare reliable support from the vendor to having a business partner!

It’s even more important if you’re looking into the multi-store functionality. Building one store is hard enough. When you have to deal with multiple I highly recommend you look into the customer support of the commerce solutions before committing.

Of course, as you’d expect, reputable hosted ecommerce software like Shopify, BigCommer, WooCommerce, Wix, etc. all have excellent support infrastructure. Moreover, there are communities and online resources to help you ensure the best customer experience.

FAQ

Can you automate an ecommerce business?

Yes, you can automate practically any business these days. Ecommerce software solutions are excellent for automating tedious tasks like customer management, order management, payment options, etc.

Which is the best automation ecommerce software?

The concept of “best” is very subjective and it varies from person to person. I have laid out the factors that impact a point of sale the most. You can choose the best ecommerce software by analyzing your needs and my guideline.

What are the benefits of ecommerce automation?

The benefits are countless. First up, you get a website builder to design your store. Then you have key features like email automation, marketing, search engine optimization, etc., all in one place. Most importantly, you can save a lot of time and money that goes into doing these tasks manually.

Which is the main tool for software automation?

I assume you mean the framework all automation software is built on. It’s selenium and it’s been in the market since 2004 and has been servicing millions of business owners worldwide. It’s an open-source framework with a rich community of developers and users behind it.

What is the cheapest ecommerce software solution?

The majority of well-known ecommerce solutions are very cost-effective. You can get started with BigCommerce, Shopify, or WooCommerce for under $30/month. Choose the one you need carefully based on your requirements.

Subscribe
our newsletter

Stay ahead of the tech curve with our cutting-edge software and technology newsletter