While every e-commerce business shows some differences in their internal processes, operations tend to have similar workflows. After the moment you walk into the office and take the first sip of your coffee, you dive headfirst into huge workload including inventory management, product fulfillment, customer support, marketing operations, competitor monitoring, price adjustments – the list is endless… Especially if you run SMB online store, you may directly deal with these repetitive tasks.
I am assuming all e-commerce managers want to automate these daily repetitive tasks in order to improve their productivity and earn some time to focus on more growth and business development. The direct involvement of an e-commerce manager or owner to manual workflows may obstruct the scalability of the business. In other words, if you are too busy with the workload, growth will be extremely difficult.
But that’s not to say these routine tasks are not important. Actually, they are the core of your business that keeps your online store running and strong. The issue that needs to be considered is these tasks can be automated, delegated or redefined. You can take advantage of the similarities of the tasks and turn them into an opportunity for improving efficiency and adapting to automation.
You should hire tech enthusiasts interns or virtual assistants and start using automation tools which can help you run your online store, freeing up your time to focus the more strategic opportunities and decisions of your business that can help improve the growth.
We prepare a list of repetitive jobs which is mostly done by interns or virtual assistant to let you know before starting an e-commerce business. And, cool news! Some of them have an automated solution.
Build an automated and efficient structure
There are many useful automated tools in the market. Once you’ve analyzed your time, priorities, daily needs and tasks, you can start automating your workflows by using automated tools and software. Before that, keep these two quick advice in your mind;
-Evaluate your repetitive tasks and go after the tasks that are not sustainable when done manually.
-Acquire a tool that can perfectly perform without or at least with occasional involvement of you. Otherwise, it won’t save your time and improve your efficiency.
Especially in e-commerce, as there are thousands of stores, competition is highly challenging and dynamic. Customers don’t hesitate even one second changing their decision to leave your store for shopping from one of your competitors. So, as an e-commerce manager/owner, you should be aware of everything happening around you and in the industry. Therefore, monitoring the competitors and market gained significant importance in order to gain competitive advantage and always be one step ahead of the competition.
Here some of the daily must-do tasks which could be automated;
Tracking competitors’ prices
Let’s start with some striking findings;
- 60% of online shoppers named pricing as the main purchase criteria.
- 73% of online stores stated price changes are the major factor of competitive pressure.
As we’ve seen from the findings, online shoppers are incredibly willing to compare your prices with your competitors’. Moreover, thanks to the comparison engines, finding best deals has never been easier. So, ignoring your competitors’ pricing strategies altogether is not a sustainable business approach. As the online world is highly dynamic, you should monitor the competitor prices daily and adjust yours’ in order to attract more customers. Unfortunately, most retailers do this research manually. This approach is too-often a time-consuming, costly and frustrating task and often ends with mistakes. In order to overcome this problem, taking advantage of automated price tracking tools like Prisync is becoming an increasingly more popular solution. These solutions let e-commerce businesses track competitor prices automatically, gain real-time market intelligence and set dynamic prices.
Tracking competitors’ SEO & website performance
Tracking your own website’s performance is a well-known and highly prioritized task. But how about your competitors’? It’s something you want to monitor, but you also don’t want to be overwhelmed by reports on a regular basis.
You should continuously benchmark your online store against your competitors and industry, reveal your competitors’ online strategy and discover new opportunities. By doing so;
-You’ll get inspiration for new ways to connect with your customers.-Find out whether competitors are doing better than you.-Improve your strategies based on real-time data rather than assumptions.
To get the daily website performance data that helps you to generate actionable insights and make strategic decisions, you can use tools such as Alexa and SimilarWeb.
Moreover, tools such as Ahrefs, Spyfu and SEMrush help you to track your competitors’ most profitable keywords, paid ads and organic search and highlights them for you. They provide you an overview of any domain’s presence by analyzing Google.
Tracking competitors’ social media & contents
There are a gigantic amount of content and different social media channels in the online world. Therefore, following dozens of industry and competitor blogs can be a time-consuming and untidy but also must-do act. If you decide to ignore what is happening in the industry in terms of contents and social media campaigns, you may miss a lot of opportunities. Staying updated about the industry and the content strategy of competitors are vital tasks in e-commerce as it is evolving every day.
Instead of digging up the information manually, try to use automated tools that help you to discover which content of competitors has performed best and which social media channels are getting high engagement. In addition, by setting alerts, you’ll be notified when your brand or competitor is mentioned in any social media channel or updated new content. With tools like Buzzsumo, Mention you can save the hassle of manually gathering data across multiple dashboards and channels and reach the necessary outcome just with few clicks.
Hiring intern / virtual assistants
While the majority of tasks can be automated, there are still some areas that need direct human involvement. Here, some examples of daily e-commerce tasks that you can delegate to your intern or virtual assistants.
Creating contents for social media and blog
If your intern has some skills and interest in the industry, s/he can focus on producing content for social media channels and blogs. As learning with the practice is the most efficient method of learning, your intern will be also eager to take responsibility for producing content.
If you’d rather produce your content, your intern may help you to submit the articles to various platforms for you. Finding the relevant images, editing the article, making the wording responsive to SEO are also time-consuming but important tasks.
Social media management
The effect of social media to spread the brand is a proven fact. Posting content regularly and responding to consumers lead you to engage with your audience and keep your brand around your consumers’ circle. As your intern has born in a digital era and understands the demands of consumers (actually s/he is the actual consumer), s/he may help you a lot with conducting social media. Having someone fresh with a lot of authentic ideas will boost your social media marketing efforts.
In terms of UX, the product page can make a huge difference. Online shoppers can’t see your products from all angles or feel the fabric. Therefore, product images, descriptions and locations should be transmitted to online shoppers properly.
Think about you have hundreds of SKUs and they need to be updated on a regular basis. You have to spend a lot of time while writing product descriptions, matching the sizes, locating products to right categories, editing and uploading product images. You can delegate the intern / virtual assistant to these tasks to handle the operational tasks.
If your virtual assistant/intern has enough capabilities, s/he can ensure your website can deliver the proper experience to customers.
Your intern / virtual assistant can;-Update web pages (site content, team member, products)-Check broken links-Format images on the landing page.-Daily maintenance
Manage inventory & orders
If your intern is skilled in managing inventory, he can keep the stock updated, monitor stock levels, reflect the inventory data to the website, manage the warehouse and communicate with suppliers, send invoices.
You should continuously get industry, potential customers, and competitor reports. If you have no time of doing it, interns are great at market research. As Google is a major source of market research and also they are so talented of using Google, you can delegate interns to research the market.
You could be spending your time more efficiently. And, because time is your most valuable asset, increasing your productivity is crucial to your success. By turning these time consuming and repetitive tasks automated or supported by you and your employees can focus on high-value tasks such as optimizing your listings, product research and increasing your marketing efforts. Please don’t hesitate to share your comments and feedback.