By the end of 2023, consumers will make 1 in 5 retail purchases online. Some ecommerce merchants may be looking for ways to work smarter, not harder.

Ecommerce automation software can help them do it.

Automation connects storefronts, online marketplaces, ecommerce platforms, shipping tools, marketing campaigns, accounting solutions, and more.

When you use automation to connect these elements, you can keep up with sales, offer five-star customer service, streamline your operations, and save money.

We've already answered questions around "Can accounting be automated?". But if you're an established seller who wants to save time and grow your ecommerce business, follow three more ways to automate to take your brand to the next level. 

3 simple ways to automate your ecommerce business

Most experts recommend starting small, integrating automation solutions into your internal-facing processes before you automate your entire business.

As you research different software, seek tools that promote seamless integrations between ecommerce platforms, CRM systems, email marketing software, and inventory systems to reduce manual data entry.

1. Sync orders and inventory on a regular cadence

There are dozens of ways to use automation in your business and online stores, from project management to accounting automation.

Common processes where automation can help established sellers include:

  • Accounting
  • Revenue and expense tracking
  • Inventory counting and dropshipping
  • Purchase orders
  • Business analytics and reporting
  • Project management
  • Sales and marketing

Automating when you sync orders and inventory can eliminate manual processes and repetitive tasks for several items on that list.

For example, automating the flow of inventory and order data every 15 minutes or every night ensures physical inventory counts, product listings, tax, revenue, expenses, and other order data are consistent throughout your operation.

Automating these tasks saves you time by not forcing you to update all that information yourself. Plus, the right solution can send notifications when items are almost out of stock, so you can avoid overselling and stocking out.

Put a greater focus on how you're going to scale your business instead of everyday tasks.

2. Generate purchase orders automatically

Automation systems that connect stores and ecommerce platforms like Shopify, Amazon, and, BigCommerce can turn manual tasks into automated workflows, especially where purchasing and purchase orders are concerned.

Purchase order automation software creates a PO for every order you download to accounting solutions like QuickBooks Desktop. For example, let's say you use automated workflows to send nine orders to QuickBooks.

Purchase order automation generates nine purchase orders from templates or based on customizable settings.

3. Use chatbots and easy-to-use communication tools to improve customer retention

As you expand automation into more customer-facing tasks, keep the customer experience front and center. Strive to deliver a seamless and unique experience with automation tools that personalize emails, track orders, and initiate support.

What does this look like in practice? Try using a chatbot to answer frequently asked questions or to direct them to the right customer representative. Set up an automated email system to send receipts, shipping updates, and other important information.

You might even send emails when buyers leave your website to recapture abandoned carts. Add advanced personalization to those emails and go beyond simply using someone’s first name in the salutation.

Then set up automated email marketing tools to segment your customers into different loyalty groups and nurture engagement through discounts and exclusive access to new products or services. 

From customer support to email marketing: 20 popular automation tools that save time, simplify workflows

There are dozens of tools on the market that can help you run your ecommerce business more efficiently.

  • For inventory: Clover, Ordoro, Zoho Inventory
  • For accounting automation: Webgility
  • For project management: Trello, Asana, Jira
  • For customer relationship management: HubSpot, Zapier,
  • For running your store: Shopify, Shopify Flow, Shift4Shop, WooCommerce, BigCommerce
  • For customer support: HelpScout, Zendesk, Olark
  • For sales and marketing automation: Klayvio, Mailchimp, SMSBump, Postscript, Buffer
  • For email marketing: Mailchimp, HubSpot, ConstantContact

Automation: How it works and if it's worth it

Automation performs tedious, often time-consuming business tasks by following a series of logic pre-determined by the rules you create. At a high level, automated workflows follow three steps: trigger, condition, and action.

  • Trigger: An action occurs, such as a customer submitting their email address on your website.
  • Condition: The tool follows logic to search your CRM and see if that email address has been used to buy from you in the past.
  • Action: Based on the condition, the software categorizes the email address into the right segment (e.g., loyal customers, new customers, and return customers).

You can apply this simple example to any complicated or time-consuming workflows your team has to stay on top of daily. Tasks that take three or more people to complete, involve multiple platforms, or are consistently triggered by certain actions are ideal for automation.

Notably, ecommerce automation doesn't replace your human employees. There are many tasks that automation can’t replicate.

So think of automation as a way to free up your team’s time to focus on more high-value activities, such as customer engagement, innovative product development, or sales.

Putting certain activities on autopilot — like publishing website and social media content, customer engagement and segmentation, approval workflows, inventory management, and reporting — allows ecommerce and marketing teams to do more in less time.

Plus, automation can reduce the risk of human errors. Accountants make mistakes entering data, social media managers send half-baked posts at the wrong time, and salespeople sometimes send the wrong discount codes to the wrong clients.

But these errors can be costly to your business (and its reputation). Automation reduces the frequency of human error while lowering costs and growing revenue. One study found that invoice automation alone can save companies between 60% and 90% per document.

Automating inventory management can prevent stockouts, eliminate overselling, and optimize inventory turnover. And automating marketing elements can lead to higher engagement, increased conversions, and improved customer loyalty.

Data shows that adopting automated sales and marketing solutions can support essential ecommerce metrics, increase lead quantity by 80%, and improve efficiency and marketing ROI by 45%.

Automation increases revenue 1.8x and order volumes 21x

Bases Loaded provides equipment and uniforms to hundreds of thousands of baseball, softball, and fastpitch teams of all levels. The store opened in 1997 as a small retailer in Northern California.

Over time, owner Dan Wells expanded to a 29,000-square-foot warehouse. In doing so, Dan's team had to keep up with growing online sales. Webgility's QuickBooks integration and automation capabilities were the solution.

“During the early days, manually posting a few orders a day was manageable,” Dan said. “But now, on a typical busy day, Bases Loaded automatically processes more than 1,000 orders to inventory, accounting, and shipping with virtually no data entry.

We could never process [all our orders] manually. We live in a 24/7 world, and Webgility keeps everything in check even when we are not at our business. The scheduler feature keeps posting and updating inventory constantly.”

When Dan and Bases Loaded started with Webgility automation, they generated approximately $1.9 million in revenue and less than 15 online orders a day. Now, the business experiences over $5.5 million in revenue and processes over 10,000 online orders a month.