When you hear the word ‘automation,’ what’s the first thing that pops in your head? Some would imagine robotic arms in factory assembly lines and delivery by drones; others think of artificial intelligence like SkyNet taking over the world.
These make great headlines and awesome storylines for 90s movies. But in most cases, the power of automation is simpler, more subtle, and often surprising. Still, automation can connote expensive software that requires a rip-and-replace when, in fact, it just means plugging-and-playing.
In our recent survey with Golfdale Consulting, we learned that businesses under $1M spend over 90 HOURS every month on inventory management, product sourcing, and managing purchase and sales orders.
If you pay yourself $100 per hour, that’s over $108,000 lost every year doing manual (and boring) tasks!
It seems daunting to compete against Fortune Global 500 companies–which continue to amass record profits–on scale, efficiency or sophistication. But what SMBs can do better is appealing to consumers’ desire of unique and personalized experiences. That means spending time on things that will directly influence the customer’s feelings about your brand and customer service.
Small business owners and operators understand this, but they can’t hire more employees to handle all the important work. They must make-do with the available resources at hand.
Automation can help you take control of your expanding business reducing three things with your operations; time, cost and resources from a single dashboard – giving you the freedom and insights you need to work smarter and grow your business.
TradeGecko Connect – our workflow automation tool – can help you shift the focus of your team to more high value tasks. Additionally, you can also use it to be agile with your strategy as a merchant.
While Americans’ overall trust in national institutions have fallen to historically low levels, small businesses are among the most trusted institutions in the U.S., ranking just below the military which tops the list (according to Gallup).
That means consumers want to spend their money on small businesses. They want to see small businesses succeed.
But for businesses without a strong brand, trust must be earned. Among the many ways to gain customer trust–from creating content, demonstrating security as a priority, and showcasing certifications–businesses must make themselves available for customer inquiries. They will want to know about your business hours, return policies, shipping dates, or other product information. Speed is important in the Information Age.
A level of transparency also lays the foundation for trust with customers. An automated online ordering system produces more than just an electronic invoice – it is a point of communication that businesses can use to provide updates to customers during the entire order management and fulfillment process.
Trust erodes when businesses can’t deliver on their promises.
As customers increasingly expect a higher level of service at every touchpoint, businesses face pressure to provide faster and more personalized responses and order fulfillment to maintain a competitive edge. This means they need to be able to offer fast shipping and 24/7 customer service as standard.
To flex your commerce muscles and scale in today’s super competitive market wouldn’t be possible without unlocking automation. It’s a topic that can make any savvy tech entrepreneur uncomfortable. But chances are, you’ve already done unlocked automation without realizing it. If you’re using different types of software that are already talking to each other – such as your eCommerce store with your inventory system or accounting with shipping – you’re using automation.
Some of the entrepreneurs we work with start with something simple. Several months later, they’re using 4-5 different software platforms that can be quite intimidating. But as their comfort level increases with the availability of sophisticated features, they see all the repeatable, manual touchpoints. Any repetition is unnecessary work that can be automated.
With rule-based automation, founders and entrepreneurs can save time but also help them deliver consistent experiences with internal employees but customers as well.
There are software packages available where you can create “If-Then” rules to help you run your business more efficiently. For example, alerting sales staff to reach out when a basket size reaches a certain high dollar value.
Reducing the time between ordering and fulfillment has a direct impact on customer satisfaction. Automation keeps customers updated on order statuses in real time, and enables businesses to better serve customers.
Automation can also augment your customer relationship management (CRM) efforts. The right CRM allows you to:
CRM efficiency is crucial to successful supply chain management because your customers are at the core of your business, and thus at the core of your supply chain. Utilizing automation tools helps you provide better service and a positive customer experience.
Shoppers have different likes, interests, affinities and patterns when it comes to browsing and buying. But when markets and even niches are saturated… when eCommerce removes the face-to-face aspect and interactivity of shopping… how do you stand out?
The answer is creating a personalized experienced that delivers relevancy to the individual shopper.
If you’re already thinking about setting up a pop-up shop, train employees to engage customers without overtly selling. Depending on what the pop-up mission is, makes sure employees can deliver that message and story well, and collect any feedback or comments from in-store interactions.
This dialogue can be recreated in an online shopping experience. Integrate chatbots unto your website to ask questions or offer recommendations as shoppers are browsing. Create instant value by helping them arrive at the product faster and discover new products (upsell during checkout) that they might not have thought of. These can be set-up with your software or with the help of a site developer.
eCommerce gets more complex and competitive each and every day.
TradeGecko Connect can help your business manage sales orders, overflow, global geo-routing, instant communication with employees and customers, and reduce manual work. So you can focus on what you love best: growing your business.
Discover how your growing business can create seamless online and offline experiences as well as leverage new technologies to accelerate growth in 2019.