The importance of automation in ecommerce is becoming more and more noticeable. As competition and necessary effort for tasks increased, manually managed online businesses became very inefficient.
In the Expert Round-up, where we focused on the question of why automation is essential, industry experts from Limespot, ShipBob, Omniconvert, Review.io, and Prisync shared their insights.
Let’s dive in.
Expert Opinion From Omniconvert
- Problem 1: Limitations of manual-store management (wasted time)
It is crystal clear how competitive the Ecommerce landscape has become. That’s why, it is crucial to work smarter, not harder. For example, one of the areas that’s vital, but poorly and manually managed is the customer experience. As customer acquisition cost is surging, companies must start to treat their existing customers better, in order to transform them into promoters and loyal customers.
- Problem 2: Why automation is critical to keep up with the Ecommerce powerhouses (competitive advantage)
Picture store A – they have a lot of customers, but they’re unaware of how happy they are, their data regarding customer satisfaction is siloed, and all their customer experience is manual and reactive.
Now picture store B – they have the same number of customers as store A, but they’re proactively handling customer issues in real-time, due to automated scenarios like this one: IF a valuable customer that bought 3 times from us is unhappy about the delivery time/package integrity, THEN offer an automated treatment via email coming from the head of Customer Experience.
Which of these stores is winning in the long run?
Expert Opinion From ShipBob
The order fulfillment process involves a lot of (literal) moving parts. From keeping an eye on every order that comes in, to spending time trying to hunt down where a certain unit of inventory is, there’s a lot of opportunity to waste time.
Whether brands handle fulfillment in-house or look to outsource fulfillment altogether, there are several considerations that speed up operations and help them be more competitive.
A note on streamlining and outsourcing fulfillment: This doesn’t always mean firing employees, or replacing them with robots. Rather, the tips below help staff do their jobs better and faster, even repurposing their time to focus on more specialized tasks, often increasing worker satisfaction by removing the mundane, repetitive tasks. This efficiency also helps reduce the number of decisions a warehouse associate needs to make, leading to fewer errors and faster turnarounds.
An automated order processing system receives and verifies customer order data to prevent the need for constantly uploading or reentering information from one system to another.
Each order placed across your sales channels is automatically sent to the fulfillment center location closest to the order’s destination (for the fastest, most cost-effective delivery). A picking list is automatically generated, which includes SKUs, quantities, and information on where items are located in the warehouse.
Rules set in fulfillment software are recurring, automated procedures that contain a trigger and action (and sometimes conditions). An example of a common rule is: “Every time an order is imported from my store, add a marketing insert into the order.” This helps the fulfillment team to automatically do the action without needing to be reminded to.
Your warehouse management system (WMS) should automatically assign similar orders (that contain inventory within the same area of the fulfillment center) to the same picker to reduce the number of steps required to pick orders for a more efficient workflow.
Using barcodes on storage locations and even on products can help further automate processes, as fulfillment associates can walk around with a wearable mobile barcode scanner that automatically updates the current unit count as you scan and retrieve each item.
Packing and packaging selection
Once all items are picked, the order is sent to a packing station, where a packer arranges the items in a box or mailer. To optimize the box selection process for each order, ShipBob uses a triple Cubiscan process, which measures the dimensions and weight of each item when they first arrive in the fulfillment center to ensure accuracy when choosing the best suitable packaging for the ordered product(s).
This information is fed into ShipBob’s box selection algorithm, and ShipBob also takes each brand’s packaging preferences into account to choose the most optimal package size and type (e.g., boxes vs. mailers) for any order combination each time.
Carrier lane sorting
Once packed and put on the conveyor belt, ShipBob’s sorting machines scan every single package to provide quality checks. The automated carrier sort machines are connected to ShipBob’s WMS, and read weight/dimension validations and assign sort lanes based on the carrier and service (e.g., packages shipped via UPS 2 Day vs. DHL eCommerce) to put packages in the appropriate gaylord that the carriers pick up each day.
This brings labor savings, higher order accuracy rate, enhanced scalability, reduced shipping correction costs, and improved accuracy in the chain of custody with carriers.
Tacking updates are automatically pushed to the Ecommerce store, where they can be shared with each customer.
Inventory tracking and replenishment
Stockouts can harm your reputation with customers. By implementing inventory management software (or by working with a 3PL that has built-in capabilities), you can automate inventory tracking tasks, such as setting up reorder notification points when inventory levels fall below a certain threshold and are at risk of being depleted. This way, you can forecast demand, reduce manual counting, and optimize stock levels with real-time counts at each location.
Expert Opinion from LimeSpot
Ecommerce powerhouses like Amazon are famous for leveraging advanced AI-based automation to improve product discovery, driving both conversion rates and average order value. Other retailers of all sizes have seen the advantage of following suit for the same reasons.
An advanced AI engine can look at millions of data points based on behavior, purchase and browsing history and other signals to automatically understand which products have a relationship, and for which customers.
For example, examining completed orders helps determine which products are frequently bought together or related to one another, helping to expand the shopping journey and drive up cart sizes.
Automation also helps retailers reduce merchandising overhead, keeping product collections and the relationship between items fresh and the site experience unique to each shopper’s individual needs. Ecommerce merchandisers no longer need to painstakingly manage product cross-sells and recommendations on each individual product page, a task that becomes even more cumbersome when you factor in variants being out of stock, or new products that need to get added in.
Finally, automation can help minimize the strain on customer service, by giving shoppers the right experience based on inferred needs and desires. Product recommendations can help with this on a basic level, but a more advanced strategy involves tailoring an entire site experience based on the segment a customer falls into. Everything from hero imagery and headlines to body copy and calls to action can be automated to reflect the buying group a customer belongs to, shortening their time to value on their site and boosting retention rates.
Expert Opinion from Reviews.io
Without automation, review collection at scale is not just impractical, it’s virtually impossible. Painstakingly time consuming and labour intensive, a manual approach yields little (or more likely no) ROI. But with smart automation, you can collect high volume, conversion driving customer feedback and UGC with ease.
What’s critical here is smart automation – a generic approach won’t work. Your collection process needs to account for multiple variables like the timing of your review request, where in the world the customer is located, and the type of product purchased – so you need tools such that allow you to create and automate custom sequences such as the REVIEWS.io Flow Feature. You also want to include action triggered follow ups in those sequences to make your collection process more effective.
Ultimately, it’s smart automation that will drive both the quantity and quality of your customer reviews – and bring all the associated benefits like a trusted reputation, social proof and greater online visibility.
A competitive advantage can also be gained through integration, and automating processes across your tech stack. For example, by integrating a product like REVIEWS.io with a customer service solution like Gorgias, you can trigger support tickets off the back of any negative reviews, alerting your service team to the issue right away. That means less time wasted on sifting through review submissions, and more time spent on providing exceptional customer service.
Expert Opinion from Prisync
How to Keep Up with Ecommerce Competition?
Ecommerce has become a place where competition is increasing dramatically and it started to be very difficult to keep up with the powerhouses like Amazon. So what should a merchant that is new or wants to become more competitive in the world of Ecommerce do?
First and foremost, avoid running your operation manually. This causes a lot of time wasted. You as a small/medium business have a key advantage over Ecommerce behemoths. Being agile! Double down on this and do not waste precious time on tasks that can be easily automated. Set this time for discovering growth & operational excellence areas.
There are hundreds of services that may help you to catch up with Amazon-level operational complexity with a friction of cost the Ecommerce giants are allocating, this time economies of scale on your side!
At Prisync, we thrive competitor price monitoring and dynamic pricing. Getting to track the prices of your competitors and setting the price of your own product according to how you want to position your pricing strategy is just one area you can start investing in immediately.
Some scenarios you can implement and improve your ROI would be dynamic pricing. Retailers worldwide are realizing the fact that customers are in constant comparison when it comes to product prices. There’s a high chance that you and your competitors have comparable products. Do you want to be the cheapest? So, you should be aware of when your competitors drop prices and you should decrease your prices immediately. It is possible to do this with price automation. Being always one step ahead will move you forward in Ecommerce competition.
Price automation not only helps you increase your profit with the right pricing but also protects your pricing strategy by tracking your competitors. Most of the Ecommerce powerhouses like Amazon change prices very often. Because the market changes so quickly and your pricing should be able to keep up with it. Continuously optimizing your product prices through dynamic pricing will keep customers relevant to your online store.
After that, it will be a lot easier to deal with Ecommerce powerhouses. Assuming they have a large share of the market, you can strengthen your position with pricing automation. Address the audience you want to focus on in the best way with the perfect pricing. Continue to save time and effort by automating your all manual work in the Ecommerce world. Become more competitive with price tracking and automation. In a such dynamic world, prices need to be constantly updated all the time by pricing automation strategies if you want to beat your competitors in this ever-changing market.
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