The retail giant Amazon plans to reinvent in-store shopping in much the same way it revolutionized online shopping. Amazon’s cashierless stores (3000 of which you can expect by 2021) give a glimpse into what the future of eCommerce could look like with automation.
eCommerce automation involves combining the right eCommerce software with the right processes and the right people to streamline and automate the order lifecycle. This reduces the complexity and redundancy of many tasks that an eCommerce retailer typically faces from the time a customer places her order until the time it is delivered to them.
Let’s look at why eCommerce retailers should prioritize automation in 2019.
1. Augmented Customer Experience + Personalization
A PwC study titled “Experience is Everything” suggests that 42% of consumers would pay more for a friendly, welcoming experience. Way back in 2015, Gartner predicted that nearly 50% of companies would be implementing changes in their business model in order to augment customer experience.
This is especially true for eCommerce, and automation in eCommerce certainly represents one of these changes.
Customization and personalization of services are a huge boost for customer experience. A BCG report revealed that retailers who implemented personalization strategies saw a 6-10% boost in their sales.
How can automation help? To start with, you can automate your email marketing campaigns and make them more personalized by adding recommendations, discount codes, and more.
2. Fraud Prevention
The scope for fraud on the Internet is huge. According to the October 2017 Global Fraud Index, Account Takeover fraud cost online retailers a whopping $3.3 billion dollars in Q2 2017 alone. Additionally, the average transaction rate for eCommerce fraud has also been on this rise.
eCommerce retailers have been using a number of fraud prevention tools such as address verification service, CVN (card verification number), credit history check, and more to verify the buyer’s identity.
An eCommerce tool equipped with Machine Learning capabilities such as Shuup, can detect fraudulent activity and effectively run through thousands of checks in the blink of an eye. Automating order handling can ensure that these preliminary checks are carried out without fail, in addition to carrying out specific checks to assess the riskiness of a particular order. Depending on the nature and scale of the enterprise, different retailers would want to set different thresholds for fraud detection, and eCommerce automation makes that possible.
If a medium-risk transaction is detected, the system can be automated to notify the finance department for immediate review, whereas high-risk transactions can be canceled immediately. Automating your eCommerce software processes allows you to break the mold of one-size-fits-all coding and make the solution specific to the needs of your organization.
3. Better Customer Service
Customer service and support is an essential part of the buying process. Automated customer support does not necessarily mean your customers will get canned responses to all their queries. However, it means that common queries can be dealt with in a more efficient manner.
Live chats and chatbots have become incredibly popular with eCommerce retailers because these features offer convenience to both the customer and the retailer. The retailer’s support staff will not be held up with routine inquiries and the customer can get their queries resolved quickly. Timely responses are a huge part of what constitutes positive customer experience. Live chat can even be used for shopping carts in order to decrease cart abandonment rates. Automating priority tickets as well as the follow-up on resolved and unresolved tickets is another way to automate customer service. With new generation automated CRM systems/ help desk software you can automate the tags that are used to filter tickets. It saves the customer service rep’s time and ensures that priority tickets are resolved quickly.
Customer support/service can be made as a strategic asset in your overall strategy. The same Oracle study mentioned above suggests that back in 2011, 50% of customers would give a brand at most one week to respond to a query before they stopped doing business with them. You can imagine what those same numbers for 2018 would be.
4. Order Fulfillment
Physical fulfillment of orders is prone to errors as it requires humans to oversee the warehouse selection. With an automated solution, you can set up an order fulfillment to match the warehouse requirements as closely as possible. This ensures that the closest warehouse which has the required item in stock is selected. This guarantees timely delivery of the order to the customer. It could also be set up to integrate with your billing software so as to calculate accurate billing/shipping charges, taxes (for out of state/overseas shipments), etc.
Automation can also help manage your inventory effectively. Product availability is updated automatically with each transaction, be it a return or the addition of a new product. If the stock of a particular in-demand item was nearing danger levels, your eCommerce software would send an automated email to the supplier asking to replenish its stock ASAP. Automation ensures that your prerequisites to order fulfillment are fulfilled for successful processing and delivery of an order.
Challenges with eCommerce automation
The aforementioned benefits are not without some risks, just as any evolving concept tends to be. One of the most important challenges to making automation work for eCommerce smoothly is data accuracy. As eCommerce platforms gear up for greater multichannel/omnichannel retailing strategies, automation is certainly going to help them bolster and enhance their workflows, but only if the right checks are in place.
Automation still has a long way to go, so for now, it might be best to focus on automating tasks that take up a lot of time such as updating inventory, reserving products for certain customers, updating customers on their orders, etc. Advanced applications such as fraud detection might still take a few years to be truly ‘automated’ and free from any need for human review. For now, eCommerce retailers still have a whole lot to look forward to.
All things considered, automating the key tasks/functions of your eCommerce platform will impart flexibility, agility, and a scope for improved customer experience. Invest rightly in automation solutions for your eCommerce software to stay competitive in the dynamic, unpredictable eCommerce retail scenario.
Fretty Francis works as a Content Marketing Specialist at SoftwareSuggest, an online platform that recommends software solutions to businesses. Her areas of expertise include eCommerce platforms, hotel software, and project management software. In her spare time, she likes to travel and catch up on the latest technologies.