The most incredible thing about Apollo 11’s journey to the moon was that it was accomplished without someone sitting at the steering wheel. It was engineered with systems that would triangulate its position based on the location and movement of various stars. It had sensors built in that knew how fast it was going, if it was slowing down or speeding up, and if it changed direction. Apollo 11 and all its successors had internal processes that handled the minutia and set the course ahead on autopilot.
Automation can do amazing things in ecommerce as well. By utilizing the right technology and creating processes that are scalable and repeatable, you can create tremendous momentum. Heck, you might even quadruple your vacation time.
Here’s how you can automate 3 of the core aspects of your ecommerce business:
Stage 1: Ignite Your Marketing Rockets
What Your Social Content Should Look Like:
The #1 goal on social media is to drum up interest in the products you’re selling. And the most effective social content you create will be visual depictions of your products. Many believe that producing great video and photo content takes significant skill. But that’s not always true. Apps like Over and Snapseed have significantly lowered the bar to produce beautiful product shots. Vine, when used well, can make you look like a creative genius in the art of 6 second video.
Creating a Process:
Building brand equity requires cadence and repetition. This is where apps such as Hootsuite, Buffer and SpringBot can be tremendously useful. Hootsuite and Buffer can be pre-populated with tweets, product pictures, product videos and informative content. Springbot goes even further and uses predictive analytics to suggest which marketing actions would create the best return on investment based on the performance.
Stage 2: Give Your Fulfillment Process a Trajectory
The faster a spacecraft moves, the greater the drag forces it encounters. As your ecommerce business grows, the burdens of managing order fulfillment will become increasingly time consuming. It’s important to create an order fulfillment process that scales with the growth of your business.
If you’re physically handing the fulfillment of your own goods, then Shipstation and OrderCup are two excellent automation tools to deal with the pains of creating shipping labels and keeping stock of inventory.
These problems don’t exist if you use a fulfillment center or dropship. But new problems – maintaining real-time inventory levels on your storefronts, sending purchase orders and retrieving shipment tracking information from your vendors – will rear their ugly heads. Many ecommerce owners spend soul-crushing amounts of time trying to get their shopping cart and their vendors to integrate directly. This is where my company, eCommHub, steps in.
To bring your fulfillment process full circle requires auditing what happens after you’ve sent your products. Services like Aftership can help ecommerce owners find out about undelivered orders and shipping exceptions before it’s too late.
There’s a lot of value in automating the different areas of order fulfillment. Shirley Tan, author of “Ecomm Hell”, eloquently summarizes it:
“…all the marketing, all the search engine optimization, web design, all of those are completely important. But, at the end of the day, the customers care about getting their goods. It’s the post-sale customer experience that is important.”
Stage 3: Orbit your customers
Custora claims that repeat buyers are worth on average 6x more than one-time buyers. It’s stunning how little businesses invest in creating a scalable process that can retain and re-convert their existing customers. Especially when so much can be done.
What can be automated in customer retention?
– Getting the contact information of non-purchasing site visitors
– Decreasing bounce rates and shopping cart abandonment
– Incentivizing existing customers to revisit and purchase
Getting Contact Information
Each site click is a possibility to create a customer. It’s a shame to let a site visitor leave without having collected some kind of contact information. Hello Bar is a brilliant tool that can help. It plops a toolbar into your site that subtly incentives customers to visit pages – such as promotional sites or your company facebook page – where you can collect their contact info.
Decrease Bounce Rates and Shopping Cart Abandonment
Two of harshest realities in ecommerce are that customers rarely stay long enough to add anything to their shopping carts and 85% of those that do, leave them abandoned.
Bounce Exchange is a tool that detects mouse movements and predicts when site visitors are about to leave your website. As soon as it predicts that a customer is losing interest, it displays a prominent light-box with promotional material or a call to action that can re-engage the customer.
Incentivize Existing Customers
It’s not easy to dangle a carrot. Understanding the cost vs. benefit of promotions can be very complex. Ideally, each promotion is tailored according to the individual customer. That’s where Custora steps in. It gives in-depth analysis of your customers and can tell you which products customers are most likely to purchase, handle the delivery of promotions and give feedback on what worked and what doesn’t. Windsor Circle and Jirafe are other excellent retention automation services to consider.
The foundation of almost every digital marketing campaign is through email. If you use Shopify, MailChimp’s Chimpified app is free plugin that lets you create targeted email campaigns to customers based on purchase date, type of product purchased and amount spent.
No one ever collided with the sky
If you compared eCommerce businesses to the launch of a spacecraft to the moon, here are the parallels you’d see. The stage 1 rockets was the sheer work ethic that launched your business off the ground. As your ecommerce rocketship flew higher, the air got thinner – and you’d agree because there was hardly any “time to breathe”. That’s when the solid rocket (stage 2) boosters kick in. Those are the processes and automation tools you’ll need to get to the next level. They’re essential to keep you from falling back down. Stage 3 is chillin’ at zero gravity.
So shoot for the moon with your ecommerce business and when you get there, make sure to let us know what the view is like.