Any eCommerce business that is not trying to automate order fulfilment is leaving money on the table. Here are seven great benefits of eCommerce automation:
1. Prevent hard-to-fulfil orders
If a particular customer’s attributes (e.g. geolocation, previous poor transaction experience, customer support requests) collided with a particularly complex order composition (highly expensive products, bespoke products, or low stock), it may be best for everyone if that order were prevented from being submitted - diplomatically at least! Or at least if you were to add some additional processing time to set their expectations. When your fulfilment infrastructure is fully integrated and provides you with exceptional data to work with, it allows you to make real-time changes and calculations on your website to adjust the expectations of the customer by changing anticipated delivery dates or products available for that customer.
2. Ship orders faster
You are managing SKU inventory efficiently and you know it’s virtually impossible for someone to order an out-of-stock item (or you have a fully automated ‘back in stock’ workflow for those which were ordered when out of stock) and you know that all of your upfront ‘defence’ mechanisms preventing hard-to-fulfil orders from being submitted are working. Now it’s game time - nothing will be able to prevent you from shipping on, or ahead of, the time promised to your clients. And of course, at this point, your automated system will let your customer know that their order is dispatched providing them with a small dose of dopamine and the chance to put a small check next to your brand for diligent communication.
3. Automate inventory control
When a certain inventory item is spoken for, no one else can buy that one which would lead to someone having their promise broken. As a business, you have specified the inventory logic for that SKU or perhaps its category, based on historical data and predictive trends. You will know when you should order or produce more without tying up unnecessary levels of resources and cash in production or inventory acquisition.
4. Reduce costs and increase efficiency
Your automated fulfilment funnel gives you the performance metrics of any part of the fulfilment journey. You have the ability to see the fulfilment journey of a single order, all orders or any segment of orders (derived from customer attributes, SKU attributes, time attributes, and resource attributes). You can see their progression from end to end including subsequent customer-support requests. Armed with powerful granular detail, you can do further analysis to find opportunities to further improve throughput and cost from that stage.
5. Tailored customer experience
Armed with an array of data-driven customer intelligence, easily available on a per-order basis, you can design logic that enables your people to add in ‘little extras’ to orders for your customers with certain attributes (e.g. purchase history, demographic segments etc), creating entirely bespoke unboxing experience to drive word-of-mouth influence, purchase referrals and of course enhanced retention and repurchase behaviour. It could be as simple as tagging an order with tags like ‘EXTRAS - BIN A’ or ‘EXTRAS - BIN A x 1 and BIN D x 2’ with colour-coordinated bins in your packaging station to make it an easy-to-follow Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).
6. Improve business intelligence
When all of your individual systems are joined up to improve workflow efficiency, another MASSIVE benefit is that you can tap off all of the data from these tools and pipe it into a central place for analysis. You can cover the entire funnel from audience acquisition, through the channel-by-channel conversion rates, through fulfilment performance metrics, join it to subsequent customer support issues and then link it to repurchasing behaviour. Joined up data really does feel like an unfair advantage. Where some businesses just have a chaotic mess of paperwork, unparsed emails, and non-standard language across your channels and tools - you can have a refined, automatically updating dataset that spits out calculated metrics that allow you to precisely improve each stage of your customer lifecycle.
7. Improve customer retention
Your efficient workflows, enriched and data-informed fulfilment process, and completed view of your data all combine to give you a massive boost to customer retention AND lifetime value. So whilst some eCom businesses frantically ‘chase first clicks’ you are on date number 10 and really enjoying actually knowing your customers at scale. They focus on making a promise but your fulfilment automation prowess means that you are obsessed with keeping your promises. Can you guess which one builds your reputation?
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