In 2020, the e-tail space has experienced everlasting changes tied to the pandemic. Businesses have had to rethink their strategies and redistribute resources to maintain business continuity. While moving online has been the initial response of many, brands who are thriving at this time are the ones that have focused their efforts on fundamentally changing how their organization operates. This means embracing technology and automation to better leverage growth.
Merchants in regions like the UAE have already made a pivot to ecommerce as they see online shopping growing exponentially in this area.
Today, it’s important for businesses, including those in the UAE, to prepare for the future (gear up with the right technology).
Let’s take a look at why businesses are implementing better technology infrastructure like automation to scale and personalize the customer experience.
What Exactly Is Automation?
Automation is an effective process for businesses to eliminate costly and time consuming manual data entry and business processes. It can take the form of AI, integration, or physical automation.
In 2020, ‘automation’ has been actualized as a proactive response to keep teams working effectively from home and ecommerce businesses running smoothly while still delivering an end-to-end customer experience.
Automation is helping businesses do more with fewer resources
Consider what is now happening in businesses around the world that have made investments in automation, moving much to the cloud. They are doing better than others due to the flexibility and resilience of their systems, and their quick move to action and implementation of automated processes. This proves automation has become an essential strategic approach for businesses to stay agile and scalable.
How Merchants Should Approach Automation
As your business grows, managing an effective customer experience becomes complex. Applications that once fit your business’ needs, won’t likely have the same functionality to handle increased demand. Merchants can approach automation to solve this issue by evaluating their customer experience strategy and the elements that inform it – their team, applications, and data.
A simple way to do so is by getting the people in your business involved in processing orders together. With the help of a ball of yarn or string, simulate your order fulfillment process. Have everyone who is part of fulfilling orders hold the ball of yarn and pass it to the next person until the ‘order’ is complete.
If you have more than 3 people touching ‘the order’ – the ball of yarn in this case – your customer experience is not ideal. This means there are likely some delays in your fulfillment process that introduce the potential for human error or inaccurate data, all negatively impacting the customer experience. Once you have identified the processes that are slowing your business down from this experiment, the next step is incorporating automation as part of your business strategy.
Here are three key areas you can take into consideration:
- Reducing manual processes and other tasks to free up staff time
- Automating key processes and data movements that inform the customer experience across all touchpoints
- Making smart technology investments to automate key processes within your ecommerce store
1. Reducing Manual Processes and Other Tasks
It is 2020 – modern times! It’s important for any business, especially within ecommerce, that businesses know it is not scalable to run your business on spreadsheets. Where, in the past, designated staff had time to manually manage tasks and update spreadsheets and other systems, priorities very much have shifted.
Businesses need to implement automation to not only replace manual tasks and data entry, but also to unlock time for more valuable, creative work performed by their staff. Investing in accounting software, CRM, and inventory management systems to automate relevant processes will help businesses operate more efficiently, and serves as the first step towards further automation
2. Automating the Customer Experience
If you are a Merchant on Shopify Plus, the world’s leading ecommerce platform, you can rely on various tools within the platform and the expertise of Plus Partners, VL OMNI included, to tailor the customer experience. Merchants can customize their ecommerce business and reduce complexity in it by turning relevant tasks into automated workflows.
From tagging customers for segmentation, sending personalized messages and discounts, streamlining tracking and reporting, standardizing visual merchandising, and improving fulfillment processes, you can automate the customer experience of your high-growth business with the help of various applications that work seamlessly with Shopify Plus.
Shopify’s Flow app is also an easy way to automate workflows across your online store and applications to a certain scale. Merchants can create automated workflows in seconds with easy-to-use templates through a visual builder, without writing a single line of code. A wide variety of applications and tools such as Dotdigital, Slack, Klaviyo can be combined with Shopify Flow to improve the customer experience of your ecommerce store.
3. Ecommerce Automation and Integration
As your ecommerce business scales, you will likely notice systems that once worked will become inefficient or break down as more demand, complexity, and repetition add up. Smart technology such as automation and data integration are risk-free responses to solve any scalability challenges your business faces.
Ecommerce automation helps reduce manual tasks at a bigger scale. Automation allows your teams to have better access to data, as well as giving them and your business more time to focus on important tasks in today’s environment such as working out deals with suppliers, understanding new fulfillment processes, product iteration, and more.
After investing in key technology applications, whether that includes ERP, CRM, fulfillment, and other systems and applications, the next thing you need to consider is tying it all together in a seamless manner. This is where data integration comes into its own.
Data integration connects disparate applications, allowing for consistent automated movement and delivery of data across a wide range of applications. It provides users with a real-time outlook of business performance and transforms data into valuable, usable information from different sources.
In a few words, data integration unifies your business processes and systems for future sustainability. There are various data integration approaches Merchants can consider. Depending on APIs and other requirements, this movement can be done in real-time with core business rules and discreet treatments applied directly to the data as it moves between internal applications and/or external systems.
Preparing For The Future Of Commerce
By automating tedious, repetitive processes associated with replicating and synchronizing data throughout your supply chain and customer touchpoints, your growing ecommerce business is taking a proactive step to empower its growth no matter what the future unfolds.
With that in mind, we at VL OMNI encourage Merchants to focus on their ecommerce back-end and not just the front-end of the ecommerce site. It is essential to take care of the front-end of your ecommerce store as well as seamlessly integrate your back-end systems. By integrating various processes between applications and promoting data cleanliness now, your business will be able to fulfill orders more efficiently, allow back-end systems to communicate with one another, have product information and availability up-to-date, and so much more.
Leveraging automation and integration as part of your business strategy is a game-changer approach to set up your business, staff and overall operations for success. Ultimately, making your business more scalable to adjust to changing conditions as they happen while creating better customer experiences and keeping employees happy and more productive.
We at VL OMNI are here to get your business going without costly interruptions. And more importantly, provide you with expert advice on data integration and technology capabilities your business needs to grow, scale and expand.