Time is your most valuable resource – but as a store owner, there are so many tasks competing for it. You need to make sure the right products and inventory are on your website, fulfill orders and payments 24/7, process and dispatch packages... all while staying on top of marketing, reviews and customer service. As you scale, your ecommerce business processes get even more demanding.
So how can you make time for the work that brings in more customers while keeping everything else on track?
With ecommerce automation.
Automation is becoming a vital part of the future of tech – and it's no surprise that we're seeing it more in tools designed for ecommerce businesses. As a store owner, it's your secret to putting your time-consuming tasks on auto-pilot.
What is ecommerce automation? It means using software to turn manual tasks into automated workflows. These workflows can trigger internal or external emails, notifications or actions in other apps – such as creating new support tickets in your help desk. To make sure everything works perfectly, you can set multiple conditions that need to be true for the workflow to run.
Although ecommerce automation saves you time, it doesn't mean firing your employees – or yourself. Rather, it frees up your team's time for the customer interactions, creativity and big-picture thinking that matter most in your line of work.
To get started, here's a list of some of the best ways to use marketing automation for ecommerce, whether you're using Shopify, WooCommerce or another platform.
Automation software for ecommerce businesses
There are several types of automation software you can use for your ecommerce business. The most popular tools are:
One of the most popular ecommerce platforms, Shopify offers plenty of powerful productivity apps in its App Store. Many of these are designed for automation, including Arigato Automation or "the app with a million uses", Shop Workflow Automation and Stock Sync.
This ecommerce automation suite is available with Shopify Pro – which certainly isn't the cheapest (you'll want to be making over $1 million in annual revenue to justify it). It's workflow-based and makes it impressively simple to create automations both within Shopify and with other apps via seamless integrations. It includes automation templates that you can copy and adapt to easily get set up.
Shopify Flow automation templates are divided into: buyer experience, customers, inventory and merchandising, loyalty, orders, promotions, risk.
WooCommerce's automation tools
If you're using WooCommerce to power your online store on Wordpress, you also have a lot of options for automation. Most of these are powered by WooCommerce's huge number of extensions, which enable you to power-up your WooCommerce site with premium features and integrations.
Software to integrate with your ecommerce platform
You can also use automation software on top of your ecommerce platform. These include:
- Email marketing automation tools, like Mailchimp to trigger emails to your customers
- Automation tools like ActiveCampaign to trigger workflows for internal process and communication with customers
- CRM tools with automation features, like HubSpot
- Help desk tools with automation features, like Freshdesk and Zendesk
- Accounting and invoicing tools like Wave Accounting, Xero or Quickbooks Online
Read on for 15 of the best ways to automate your ecommerce business, including features from your ecommerce platform as well as other automation tools you can easily keep in sync.
15 ways to automate your ecommerce business
Customer experience & management
1. Track and reward your most engaged customers
Do you reward your best customers? Customer retention is valuable for all businesses, including ecommerce. Turns out you can increase your profits anywhere from 25-95% by increasing your retention rates by just 5%.
To reward customer loyalty, you could automatically add a free gift to orders over $100, or free delivery. With a tool like ActiveCampaign, you can also use segment customers based on lifetime spend and send them automated emails with rewards inside.
2. Sync your customers to a Mailchimp list
All of the top ecommerce platforms – including WooCommerce and Shopify – have native integrations with Mailchimp. So if you're using the popular email marketing tool to send your newsletters and email marketing workflows, make sure to sync your account.
An integration with Mailchimp can automatically pass the email addresses of shoppers who show interest in your emails into a specified Mailchimp list, so you can keep them updated with your latest products and offers.
3. Gather feedback after a purchase
Every ecommerce store knows how powerful reviews and honest feedback are. It can make or break your business. To encourage reviews, set up automated email workflows to send follow-up emails a certain amount of time after purchase. Ask for honest feedback and share a link to where they can post their review.
4. Reach out to negative reviews
If you receive an unfortunate 1-star review, make sure you notice it. You can set up an automation to create a support ticket in your helpdesk software to make it easier to reach out quickly and make amends – or at least listen and understand what's happened.
5. Tag and segment customers based on buying behavior
Segmentation can help you understand your customers and stay on top of the different characteristics they have. With a tool like ActiveCampaign, you can tag or segment based on demographics (e.g. gender or location), lifetime order value, milestones, number of orders, or any subscriptions or memberships, for example.
6. Automate inventory management for low-stock items
Running out of a product can mean missed income and frustrated customers. To avoid this, automate inventory management so you know when a product is low in stock.
With Woocommerce, you can trigger low stock notifications (based on thresholds you set) and out of stock notifications. This way you can instantly know when a product needs reordering from your supplies.
As a Shopify customer, you can use an app like Low Stock Alert.
7. Send abandoned cart emails
75% of ecommerce shopping carts get abandoned. Abandoned cart reminders help you bring customers back to your site—and with automation, you don't have to do a thing.
Integrating your ecommerce software with ActiveCampaign is an easy way to send abandoned cart emails. You can also look at other native integrations between your ecommerce platform and transactional email providers.
8. Try dropshipping for a bit of passive income
Did you know some ecommerce businesses automate order fulfillment and delivery? It's possible with dropshipping – a way to find products, add them to your online store, and ship them directly to your customers... without holding any inventory or risk yourself.
Oberlo, acquired by Shopify in 2017, is one of the most popular dropshipping tools. As expected, it integrates neatly with Shopify and you can add dropshipped products to your existing Shopify store, or create a new one for your dropshipped products.
The main challenge with dropshipping is finding the products that match your store's branding and quality standards.
9. Print shipping labels and send out tracking numbers with one click
By integrating WooCommerce with ShipStation, a single click can complete several time-consuming tasks:
- Sync your orders with ShipStation
- Create and print shipping labels for your WooCommerce orders
- Mark all orders as complete
- Generate and send tracking numbers
10. Send reminders to re-order consumables
Do you sell food, health or beauty products? Your customers might be interested in repurchasing consumables once they run out. To let them know, set up automated workflows to send reminder emails for these products a certain time after purchase.
11. Nurture leads into customers with email marketing
People don't always become customers right away. Your company will have its own typical customer journey, with people spending time in research and consideration phases before deciding to hand you any money.
However, if someone has given you their email address and permission to contact them, you can help this process along. Make sure that anything you send them is top-quality and valuable, perhaps with discount codes or free gift offers. Don't irritate them and make your potential customers click unsubscribe instead of buy now.
12. Schedule social media posts automatically
If social media takes up too much of your time, there are lots of tools out there to streamline processes.
Use the Shopify app Post Studio ‑ Auto Posting to automatically post products to your Facebook and Twitter pages every day.
Buffer is another app that lets you easily schedule messages ahead of time. It's simple to reschedule content that's performed well, too.
13. Add tasks to Trello, Asana or Slack
If you've used automation to find out when a product is low in stock or a customer left a frustrated review, you will also want to notify your team so they can do something about it. Another perk of using automation is that you can notify your team on the platforms you use most – like Trello, Asana or Slack.
If you're a Shopify user, Arigato Automation includes 100+ pre-built automations including pushing data to Google Sheets, Slack messages, Trello cards and more.
14. Choose a powerful help desk software
As you scale your ecommerce business, it's important to make sure your customer service is covered. Implementing help desk software is one of the best ways to do this.
With a platform like Zendesk or Freshdesk, you're in the best position to centralize your customer support in one place and get a clear view of tickets from all channels. These tools also give you many options for improving your customer experience with automation, such as with bots and satisfaction surveys.
15. Connect your business tools with PieSync
One of the most powerful ways to automate more of your business processes is to connect your business apps. In this post, we've covered many native integrations with Shopify and WooCommerce, but you can also use PieSync to ensure your customer data is seamlessly connected across apps.