It’s a wonderful feeling to see your business grow. When you have more customers, more profits, and greater success rolling in, every day is more exciting than the last. However, growth means your business will become more demanding, and you’ll find yourself busier than ever. This can present significant challenges — there are so many hours in a day, after all!
Automating your ecommerce business is the key to taking much of that weight off your shoulders. With ecommerce automation, you can streamline the repetitive or mundane parts of your business that would otherwise start to consume too much of your time.
What is Ecommerce Automation?
Ecommerce automation is the process of using software tools that will complete various tasks for you, rather than needing to do them yourself. While some aspects of the business will still require human input, a significant number of ecommerce tasks can be automated quite successfully. Automation works best for small, continuous everyday tasks that are always performed consistently.
Some good examples of ecommerce automation for online businesses are:
- New customers who create an account on your store are sent a “Welcome” email.
- New customers whose first purchase exceeds a certain dollar amount are designated “high-value” and moved to a specific Customer Group.
- Every customer is sent an email newsletter once a month, with high-value customers receiving many versions.
- Orders showing certain suspicious traits, like shipping and billing addresses that don’t match, are flagged as high-risk for review as potential fraud
- Existing customers who buy a specific item are sent an email about other suggested items that would complement their purchase.
- All customers get an email 30 days after buying to request a product review.
- When inventory numbers fall below a certain threshold, a purchase order is automatically generated for you to send to your supplier.
- Customers who leave items in their cart without completing a transaction receive email reminders as part of an abandoned cart recovery campaign.
And many more…
You can probably imagine how much time it would take for a business owner or employee to handle all these tasks manually, but since they always follow a specific procedure, it makes them perfect for automation.
How Ecommerce Automation Works
Ecommerce automation is driven by smart platforms that adjust to the actions, input, or feedback of website users. At the core of these capabilities is artificial intelligence (AI), which can mimic human actions and thought processes to a limited degree — although not nearly so limited as it was in its earlier days. Basic types of automation, such as those listed above, are performed by a simple AI with a list of criteria that triggers explicit tasks like sending an email after a pre-set time following a customer’s action.
AI is capable of more advanced tasks as well, and some AI can improve and expand upon its programming via machine learning. Machine learning is a method for improving the “intelligence” of AI by absorbing new information based on interactions with users. This enables the AI to become more efficient with time and to give visitors a more personalized experience.
For instance, machine learning can be utilized to enhance search functions in an online store by using the information given by customers when they perform searches: the keyword they look for, and the products they click on. From that information, the AI can learn which products in the search results are most likely to be relevant to the keyword that was used. These items will then be moved to the top of the search results for that keyword.
Machine learning can help a website to customize itself for individuals as well. You’ve seen this yourself every time you visit a website that shows relevant products. Those products have been chosen by an AI-based on what it has learned from you through your interactions with the website.
A customer service chatbot is another form of useful ecommerce AI that relies heavily on machine learning. Chatbots simulate a live chat with a representative of the business. Chatbots aren’t meant to duplicate a conversation with a human, but they can gather information through the customer’s chat responses and use that information in several ways. Chatbots can answer some questions and refer a visitor to the correct department based on their responses if needed. They can additionally make product recommendations and enable the customer to find what they’re searching for. Machine learning allows the chatbot to improve its automatic responses and feel more organic — and more “human” — to customers.