It’s every entrepreneur’s dream to make money while they sleep – which is why so many have gone down the path of e-commerce. After all, this type of company requires no physical location, few (if any) additional employees, and you don’t need to stick to a traditional 9 to 5 workday.
However, starting an online business and keeping it running does require more work and effort than you may expect. Customers need help and assistance around the clock and purchase orders and item returns can happen at any moment. Furthermore, as an online solopreneur, you are required to juggle many different roles, such as marketing, accounting, IT, and customer service.
This is why automation is such an incredibly attractive and powerful tool for e-commerce. Thanks to technology, many of the time-consuming daily tasks can be taken over by computer programs and online tools – freeing up hours of work that can be dedicated to growing your business.
Here are four super simple ways to integrate automation into your e-commerce site for a better workflow that saves you time and money.
1. Sell Digital Products
Selling a physical product can’t be truly automated (at least not at this time). Someone has to physically stock the items, package purchases, and ship orders. While you can certainly outsource this to a drop shipper, that comes with its own set of potential problems and risks.
Instead, your e-commerce site could offer low-investment digital products that can be sold automatically. They require no restocking, inventory management, or shipping, and it allows you to run a much more automated business with little effort.
There are plenty of good business ideas for these types of digital products. It comes down to your imagination, interests, and areas of expertise. For example, selling online courses and classes has become a popular online trend, so if you have a talent like playing an instrument, painting, or speaking a foreign language, you can create an online classroom and sell access to videos and resources. If writing is your thing, you can sell online e-books. Another option would be to offer online templates for things like budget plans, customized calendars, or even other websites.
2. Integrate Chatbots with a Personality
Responding to customer inquiries and issues can be super time-consuming. Plus, the pressure is on for an almost instant response as customers become even more impatient for service assistance. When running an online business, your store never closes. This means customer service has to run around the clock.
One of the best ways to automate this task is through chatbots that are able to offer instant answers to common customer questions. According to Salesforce’s 2018 report on chatbots, the majority of consumers appreciate the constant availability and quick responses they can provide. They also agree that most chatbots are easy to communicate with and typically resolve issues promptly – which improves the customer experience.
The important thing to remember here is to make sure that a chatbot solves problems, not creates more of them. Be sure that it uses AI assisted natural language processing so that it understands what customers are saying and can provide understandable answers. It doesn’t hurt to incorporate a little bit of personality for some better branding and an improved experience for customers.
3. Create a Chain of Events Email Marketing Strategy
Email marketing is highly effective for re-engaging customers and encouraging repeat sales, but designing each email for specific campaigns can certainly take some time. Instead of sending out periodic promotional messages, a chain of events email marketing system can automate this communication in a much more effective way.
The key here is to optimize your messaging based on a customer’s behavior. Say that a customer browses your site, adds items to their cart, and then exits without a purchase. Sending out an automatic cart abandonment email in a timely manner can be highly effective and can possibly lead to a conversion if it reaches the customer at the right time. According to Barrilliance’s report, 46% of customers will open a cart abandonment email and about 19% will follow through with their purchase.
Create a customer journey map as a guide to help you design a trigger-based email strategy. Notice all of the dead ends that customers could make where a timely email could re-engage, such as after they visit your website, follow you on social media, or make a purchase. You may also want to automatically send out emails when an item comes back in stock or a product that they have viewed goes on sale. The secret here is to make the messaging timely and relevant, which is why using an automated system is the best option.
4. Invest in Predictive Technology for Automated Business Decisions
If you are selling physical products with your e-commerce business, you know that there is nothing that can kill sales faster than poor inventory management. Furthermore, when money is tight, it can be difficult to gauge how much stock to order before sales start to flow in.
AI-enabled predictive technology can solve both of these issues and more. AI is being used to predict trends and ensure that inventory is available to fulfil upcoming orders. These systems will track developments in the market, predict when orders are going to go up or down, and order inventory accordingly. This technology can also be used for price fluctuations (particularly if you are selling on sites like Amazon) to optimize sales by adjusting prices automatically and increase your profits. All of this is done automatically through predictive analytics, which means that you can sit back and relax while AI does the heavy lifting for you.
Running an online business can allow you to operate on your own time and terms – if you structure it correctly. By incorporating automation into the areas where it will make the biggest impact, your e-commerce company can run more smoothly and more intelligently for better results.