With the dizzying pace of competition in the industry today, you need every bit of boost to help your business gain extra runway – especially at the startup stage.
Exiting the brutal grind of “startup to scale-up” largely depends on how much weight you carry and your team’s agility. You’ve got to optimize your speed and energy. And sometimes that means doing more with less, reducing dead weight, and improving your operational excellence with automation.
While many levers of your business could use less human intervention, our focus for this piece is on helping you refine your Marketing, Chargeback Mitigation, and Shipping and Fulfillment.
But first, it’s crucial to consider the following keys for a productive automation process.
Suitability of Automation
Changing any aspect of your business means changing your entire business.
Beyond the strategic advantages and operational benefits of automation, it’s vital to think of the larger picture too.
- Will customers’ needs be satisfied as they interact with the business?
- Will your team perform at optimum levels with automated systems?
- How will you maintain systems improvement, and what level of reliability/ease of use do you need for an automated system suitable for customer use?
Effect of Automation on Use-Benefits
Being readily available to your prospects adds to customer value…provided that everything works perfectly.
Yet, when businesses distance themselves from the customer, the consequence is an erosion of customer value. If your customers can’t reach you to address transaction issues, the value and ease of online access is eroded.
Your eCommerce Software and Market Trends
The platform you built your business on hugely determines what you can automate. If you’re a new vendor just getting started, you might want to do some due diligence on the various platforms available in the market and understand their pros and cons before setting up your store.
The eCommerce landscape is upbeat with innovations and constant disruptions. Pay close attention to significant industry trends and market evolution to ensure your automation priorities move the needle for the business –you don’t want to automate your business to for “me too” reasons.
With those thoughts in the note, let’s dive deep into the three ways to automate your business to maximize growth.
Automating Your Marketing
You would expect everyone who visits your website to follow all the customer journey touchpoints you’ve constructed. But that’s not always how things work in practical terms.
For instance, 70% of readers who open this article won’t read it thoroughly. They will scan through it (in an F format) for essential points they can quickly apply. And they’ll move on to something else.
If I didn’t consider that fact when crafting the work, the use value would be diminished.
Likewise, no matter how well you’ve crafted your buyer persona to inform your buyer’s journey, shoppers might not always follow those systems. They might find your website through a Google search, but the conversion might happen on Instagram much later.
That means your eCommerce store must be omnipresent.
And the only way to be everywhere your prospective buyers are is through marketing automation.
The numbers tell a better story:
63% of brands using marketing automation outperform the competition with ~14.5% in sales uptick and ~12.2% reduction in marketing spend.
Consider these touchpoints when making your marketing automation decision:
- email marketing,
- social media,
Email marketing automation
Email automation is a crucial marketing automation process where you can use predefined workflows to send the right message to the right audience at the right time.
This type of workflow differs from a newsletter campaign because you set it up once and automatically launch it each time someone sets off the trigger through specific actions on your store. E.g new sign up, abandoned cart, etc.
Email automation is hugely effective for nurturing leads and driving sales from prospects and existing customers. And marketers say they generate as much as 320% more ROI per email than other promotional messages.
Use email automation to grow your business
Below are some use-case examples of email automation.
- Welcome new subscribers: Your first-time visitors won’t always make a transaction, even if your website is an e-commerce store. Welcome emails are like thank-you notes after a job interview, in this case. It’s not mandatory to send them, but marketers notice that welcome messages get 4x more reads and 5x more clicks than regular marketing emails.
- Minimize cart abandonment: Adding items to a cart is as easy as clicking on an item, but checking out isn’t always that straightforward for buyers. Research shows that 70% of e-commerce shoppers abandon their carts for reasons such as high shipping costs, registering for an account, or worries about the site’s security. Abandoned cart email workflows are a great way to recapture your buyers’ interest and stimulate conversion.
- Launch promotions or introduce new products: Email automation helps you avoid announcing every new product release, upgrade, or promotion to every customer but to shoppers who expressed interest in such information. Personalizing such email campaigns gives you an average open rate of 150%.
Many email service providers seamlessly integrate with most eCommerce software providers. But you readily use Alloy or Zapier to connect your email flows to service providers such as MailChimp, Lemlist, or Sendinblue.
Social Media marketing automation
Today, over 4.70 billion people use social media, and 227 million new users have come online within the last 12 months, with the average daily time spent using social media reaching 2h 29m.
If you’re not investing in social media marketing, you’re leaving money on the table.
Yet, you can’t possibly be effective on all the social media platforms if you don’t have a significant marketing budget and a large team to handle the workload.
With social media automation, you could program repetitive tasks to have the space to engage with your audience and build your following.
Aspects of your social engagements that you can automate
- Scheduling: Tools like Buffer help you set and forget posts to different social media accounts from the same portal. For small teams or one-person businesses, automated content delivery helps ensure you can drip-feed your channels while still managing other tasks. Plus, their analytics help you understand how users engage with your content for better planning.
- Chatbots: We know that chatbots help boost conversational marketing with pre-programmed 1:1 conversations with prospects. Automating responses to frequently asked questions helps you provide customers insightful support that makes you reachable any day.
- Analytics and Reporting: Capturing all the insight you need organically from every channel you use is daunting. Automating your analytics and reporting helps you connect all the relevant touchpoints of your business to one system to excavate insightful data needed for better decision-making.
Marketing analytics platforms can be expensive, but they give details about your customers in ways you might not have otherwise. And you can quickly see their journey through your platform – their doubts, step back and search for more data. If you’re in doubt about where to start, choose one aspect of your marketing and automate that for more agility and speed.
Automate Your Chargebacks
Automated chargeback management is a proactive, pre-programmed solution that gathers and submits chargeback responses on your behalf. It’s a software solution that helps vendors fight and mitigate chargeback using analytical, case-based, and just-in-time principles.
A chargeback automation service like Chargeflow gives you access to a tremendous amount of data like customer transactions, payment methods, and historical transaction patterns. These insights put you on top of your chargeback situation.
With chargeback automation, you also gain essential insight to know specific documentation to submit for representment, understand fraud patterns, thwart them before they materialize, increase your dispute win rate, and free up valuable time for other productive work. You’re not trapped in a rabbit hole of fighting to recover lost revenue or risking losing your processing rights due to excessive disputes.
How to decide whether your business needs chargeback automation
Looking at how friendly fraud (abuse of the chargeback system by cardholders) is spiking, every eCommerce business should consider automating its chargeback mitigation processes. Research tells us that up to 70% of all chargebacks are cases of friendly fraud.
Chargeback automation gives a better chargeback win rate, saves more than 45% chargeback costs…and you can skip the mundane evidence-gathering processes.
But for anyone still in doubt, here are some metrics to help you decide whether or not you should automate your chargebacks:
Does your business receive 10-20 disputes monthly?
Having up to 20 disputes each month means different things:
- You either don’t understand how to spot con artists,
- Your business model creates a loophole for chargeback fraud, or
- You serve a region or business vertical prone to chargebacks.
For example, if you serve customers in countries outside the U.S., Canada, the European Union, Japan, Australia, Singapore, or South Korea or deal with several currencies, your chargeback risk will be higher.
Digital goods and subscription services also attract abnormally high chargeback rates, and you should use an automated dispute management system to counter those risks.
How good is your dispute win rate?
If you’re like most online business owners, your best chargeback win rate is 12%. So it’s easier for these businesses to write off chargebacks as a cost of doing business, which is a double tragedy. Studies show that 40% of cardholders who complete a fraudulent chargeback will file another within 90 days.
A significant side effect of fraudulent transactions is that they subsequently pop up on secondary markets, cannibalizing sales and destroying the business’s reputation.
Chargeback automation service helps you fix that anomaly and gives you tons of data to stop any fraud attempt in its tracks. Additionally, you can tell which transactions can turn into disputes and forecast your revenue with insights from over 50 data points!
How much time do you spend fighting chargebacks?
From what we know, the average e-commerce merchant spends up to 17 hours each month fighting to recover $1,350 in chargeback fraud.
Chargebacks are a consumer protection mechanism that has ensured accountability and fair play for legitimate cases but hasn’t lived up to today’s eCommerce realities.
Here are some drawbacks:
- The merchant is automatically guilty until proven innocent once a cardholder files a dispute.
- Chargeback reason codes, which are supposed to guide the merchant on what they’re dealing with, are often the source of significant confusion.
Research shows that many cardholders file chargebacks for reasons that have nothing to do with what they stated to the bank. So the merchant is led on a goose chase of a losing battle because the merchant can only fight back against the reason indicated in the code. While you could win such a dispute if you know what you’re doing, the chargeback reversal is merely a consolation prize. You still spend time to fight a chargeback that should’ve never happened in the first AND must pay chargeback fees…win or lose.
Do you sell digital merchandise?
The service terms of most PSPs, like PayPal, say that if you do not have proof of product delivery for an item, the buyer wins the dispute by default. Online shoplifters know that. And they use that backdoor to take advantage of digital goods sellers.
With chargeback automation, you can sieve data from multiple sources to establish the credibility of the transaction. The data review options and fraud scoring techniques will help you catch trickier cases.
Automate Order Shipping & Fulfillment
A seamless order fulfilment process (80% or more delivery success rate) is one of the major determinant factors for the success of any business. Once a customer places an order at your store, the next thing they expect is to receive their order.
Businesses that take no consideration of effective strategies for accelerating future dividends of their marketing efforts with predictive order fulfilment workflows will only acquire customers to lose them again.
Can you assure fast shipping, effortless delivery, and sufficient product status information? Do you have systems for effective order delivery during peak seasons?
Research shows that automating your order fulfilment process helps reduce fulfilment costs by up to 15%. And you also eliminate costly human errors that result from optimum inventory management, warehouse operations, and returns control.
Some companies can afford to build the framework in-house. But you can outsource that part of your business to a specialist third-party vendor who takes care of everything, from warehousing to order delivery.
More so, you can equally automate those crucial workflows with separate software to suit your needs and budget. Thus, making order tracking, verifying, status updates, stock availability information, and order delivery estimates less burdensome.
Some order fulfilment tools to consider
Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) is an excellent solution if you’re conducting a significant amount of your eCommerce transactions through the online retailer behemoth. FBA helps maintain sophisticated records, and you can contact Amazon fulfilment centres to oversee your inventory and ensure the timely fulfilment of your goods. Its ease of use for Amazon vendors makes it a preferred choice for new or emerging companies.
For direct-to-consumer (D2C) eCommerce brands, ShipBob has a simple interface for managing orders across an expansive network of fulfilment centres. Their guaranteed two-day shipping across the continental United States gives you an edge over the competition. With ShipBob’s software, you can get essential data and analytics to hone your system’s efficiency further.
Fishbowl Inventory features comprehensive manufacturing and warehouse inventory management software that helps you automate fulfilment practices and expand your shipping efforts. The platform has many integration options — from eCommerce sites such as Amazon, Shopify, and eBay to financial products such as Xero and QuickBooks.
Fishbowl Inventory adapts to your established business practices for seamless reorder points automation and gives you tools to track inventory and prevent product shortages or order delays.
This article was contributed by Tom-Chris Emewulu, Chargeflow’s Digital Evangelist.
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